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Mayank Kumar

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Mayank Kumar is Co-Founder and CEO, UpGrad.

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The Present and Future of EdTech
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The Present and Future of EdTech

Coronavirus unleashed a whirlwind that many could not brave. Even well-planned industry infrastructures failed to cope with the pressures and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, and rightly so. No one, anywhere in the world, was prepared to confront something of this magnitude.  However, the pandemic proved to be a watershed moment for two industries in particular – EdTech and eCommerce. Although EdTech is an emerging market that was steadily gaining pace, COVID-19 gave it the extra momentum, making way for the sector’s massive expansion. India’s EdTech market is all set to increase by 3.7 times in the upcoming five years, growing from US$ 2.8 billion (in 2020) to US$ 10.4 billion by 2025).  The EdTech Revolution For long, educational institutions in India have followed the “factory model” approach that entails a common and standard learning methodology for all. Students are treated as components of an assembly line where each student learns at an average pace in a classroom-based environment. There’s hardly any scope for personalized learning in this model. What the factory model approach fails to consider is that each student is different – each learns at a unique pace. They have different ways of grasping the same concept. What may work for one learner, may not work in the exact same way for another. Consequently, classroom-based learning often leaves gaps in the overall learning outcome. This is where EdTech enters to transform the education and learning scenarios. EdTech has emerged as the new supplementary education or “coaching” opportunity that students generally gained through private tutors and institutes to fill the gaps in classroom learning. EdTech is a vital link between student enrolment (participation) and enhanced learning.  Today, thanks to EdTech platforms, students can enhance their knowledge base and clear their doubts through online learning portals, programs, and institutes. From short-term certification courses to long-term undergraduate and postgraduate programs, EdTech platforms offer a wide range of industry-relevant courses. EdTech is bringing forth pioneering solutions that go way beyond classroom learning to include personalized course curriculum and learning approaches to cater to the needs of individual learners. Modern EdTech solutions and learning programs are designed to help students enhance their competencies, critical thinking and creative abilities by integrating theoretical learning with practical experiments, case studies, and assignments. The core idea of EdTech is to create such educational programs and courses that are highly relevant to the changing times.  For instance, at upGrad, we have collaborated with some of the top universities, both in India and overseas, to offer a diverse range of online programs. The top university names include IIIT-Bangalore, MICA, Duke University, Deakin University, NMIMS, IMT, IIT Madras, Jindal Global Business School, BIMTECH, and LJMU. upGrad courses cover general education streams like Arts, Education, Law, and Health & Psychology, along with some of the most trending industry domains, including Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Software & Technology, Marketing, and Management.  With over 300+ hiring partners, we strive to help launch the careers of our learners. Our instructors and faculty members impart knowledge through a combination of live lectures and online learning sessions. We provide 360-degree career support and dedicated doubt resolution slots, resume building sessions, and mock interviews to enhance the learning experience of each student. Not just that, upGrad learners enjoy the perks of engaging in one-on-one interaction sessions with industry experts and mentors, participating in hiring drives, and offline networking sessions. Together, these activities ensure that candidates are well-groomed and ready to step into the professional world.  Besides helping close the learning gap of classroom-education, EdTech is also playing a crucial role in bridging the skill gap. According to the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2019, as of 2019, India ranked 68th out of 141 countries in terms of competitive index, slipping down by 10 places from 2018. Even though our country boasts of massive market size, educated youth, and innovation opportunities, India falls significantly behind in workforce skills, particularly digital skills, vocational training, and the readiness of finding competent and skilled professionals. What’s even more surprising is that despite being one of the biggest markets for Internet and digital technologies, India held the 120th rank in information and communication technology (ICT) adoption! Source  What does this highlight? It highlights a very important fact that although we have one of the biggest pools of talented and educated professionals in the world, they lack industrial competency and skills. In a market where many jobs are being sidelined by automation and other technological interventions, it is mandatory to upskill to boost your professional value. EdTech platforms offer the perfect solution for professionals to upskill. They make higher education and vocational/technical training accessible to students and professionals from all backgrounds. You can choose to further your knowledge in any specialization you want via online learning without hampering your professional commitments. The best part is that you can learn at your preferred pace and convenience. When the country’s educated and professional populace is equipped with industry-specific skills, it creates a foundation of a competitive workforce and economy.  The present and future of EdTech Since the pandemic broke loose, people have largely been confined to their homes, thanks to intermittent and indefinite lockdown periods. Everything – from grocery shopping to office meetings to learning – shifted to the online domain. As people couldn’t venture outside, they resorted to accomplishing all their tasks online. During the pandemic, schools and educational institutions adopted digital technologies to facilitate learning activities at home itself. Governments, educational institutes, and teachers across the world innovated new approaches and techniques to help students learn and grasp concepts through digital learning. Granted that not all of their teaching strategies were successful, it proved one important fact – learning can happen beyond the classroom as well. Almost all private educational institutions in urban areas shifted to the online learning model to enable teacher-student interaction in real-time. But government-aided and public educational institutions struggled quite a lot to offer such learning facilities to their students owing to limited resources and funding.  What’s necessary is for institutions to be in sync with the EdTech Readiness Framework (ERF), a key metric for tracking the growth boosters in the EdTech industry. For EdTech to bring a tangible disruption in K12 and post-K12 segments,  it is crucial to align learning strategies with the four key tenets of ERF: Digital adoption among families and individuals Awareness of EdTech Willingness to pay for EdTech solutions Funding in EdTech companies India’s rapid and expansive Internet penetration, increasing awareness of EdTech and digital technologies among the general populace, and a massive untapped market creates a promising outlook for EdTech players. As per the latest stats, over 4,450 EdTech startups have been launched in India between January 2014 and September 2019. By 2025, it is estimated that EdTech products & services will have more than 37 million paid users. Furthermore, according to Redseer’s Edtech Report, by 2022, online education solutions for K12 will likely increase 6.3 times, becoming a US$ 1.7 billion market. As for the post-K12 market, it will expand by 3.7 times to reach a market size of US$ 1.8 billion.  Source Source   Omidyar Network India’s 2017 research maintains that by 2022, India will have half a billion new users, a.k.a., the Next Half Billion (NHB), who’ll come online for the first time. The NHB demographic will primarily comprise the “aspirer” segment who’ll adopt a mobile-first Internet approach. The aspirer segment encompasses numerous occupations under its canvas, including small shop owners, vegetable vendors, domestic help, security guards, masons, electricians, plumbers, and gig-economy workers. This demographic that was largely deprived of quality education facilities are gradually entering the digital umbrella, thanks to increasing Internet penetration, affordable data plans, affordable smartphones, and increasing access to online marketplaces and vernacular mobile applications.  Source These stats only reinstate that India’s EdTech market is rife with opportunities to transform and disrupt the traditional education landscape.  What needs to be done? Education delivery and unemployment are two major challenges India faces. Although the primary and secondary school network has expanded considerably over the past decade, the enrolment ratio is not very impressive. As of 2019, India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education stood at 26.3%, indicating that there’s still a long way to go. Infrastructure is one of the biggest obstacles in the delivery of quality education to students throughout India, particularly in remote and rural areas. Can EdTech coupled with affordable Internet connectivity then solve such challenges and transform education in India for the better? As per recent stats, India’s online education market is set to grow at a CAGR of 21% between 2020-24 to reach a market size of US$ 14.33 billion, indicating that there’s immense potential in this sector.  However, the problem lies in the fact that the present challenges faced by the education sector are not concentrated in a single region but arise from multiple domains, right from infrastructural and technical to behavioural. While the current market trends show that digital learning is here to stay, EdTech players need to collaborate with both government and private educational institutions to create a well-designed educational infrastructure and delivery model. Meticulous planning and access to the right tools can help EdTech companies to accomplish the three much-needed tenets in education: equity, quality, and public outreach.  Here are the four main concerns that must be addressed to give shape to the EdTech revolution in India: 1. Infrastructure – The pandemic resulted in a major shift from the physical classroom learning model to the digital learning model. While this shift may alleviate India’s pressing problems of physical infrastructure, the digital learning model must also consider how to reach every nook and corner of rural India to cover the financially and socially marginalised sections. Governments must play an active role here. They must design affordable digital solutions that can reach the masses and not just be limited to the urban areas. For instance, the television learning approach can make a real difference in the delivery of education to one and all. 2. Educational content – With changing times, it is imperative that the educational content taught to students also undergoes a revision and upgrade. After all, what value will a degree hold if it cannot get you a job or make you a self-reliant individual in the present job market? Schools, colleges, and universities must revamp their curriculum to incorporate trending and in-demand skills like coding, machine learning, business management, etc. This is the reason why upGrad has been focusing on delivering quality educational content on the hottest topics in the industry right now. The idea is to help the present generation acquire skills that are not only relevant now but will also be there in the future.  3. Teacher upskilling – With the learning models and content changing before our eyes, it is important for teachers to up their game. Educational institutions must invest in training and upskilling their teaching staff to help them deliver best-in-class education to students. They must be ready to leverage and adopt digital learning tools and platforms to ensure that students can continue their learning seamlessly. Proper training and upskilling will help teachers and instructors to respond adequately to the changing demands of the education industry.  4. Peer-to-peer learning – Socialization and peer-to-peer learning are two of the biggest plus points of school-based classroom learning. Students get to interact with their peers, share their ideologies and opinions and learn from each other. Such everyday interactions among students play a crucial role in shaping their minds and social behaviour.  Typically, digital learning platforms fail to acknowledge this aspect of classroom learning. However, EdTech platforms can address the problem of social alienation by conducting offline networking events where students can interact with instructors, peers, and industry experts to gain a more comprehensive viewpoint. At upGrad, we try to hold offline events, BaseCamp for students to encourage them to interact with their peers and mentors.  Concluding thoughts… It is clear that tech-based learning solutions are the future of education. What was optional until now is rapidly transforming into a mandatory need for creating a learning environment that helps learners acquire industry-relevant skills. With the EdTech wave fast-penetrating into the Indian education scenario, it is safe to say that governments, educational institutions, teachers, parents, and students are becoming more inclined towards digital technologies. In the coming years, India will witness a steep rise in investment, innovation, and adoption in the EdTech sector. 

by Mayank Kumar

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20 Feb 2021

Letter from the CEO: Take Charge of Your Career
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Letter from the CEO: Take Charge of Your Career

Take Charge of Your Career from UpGrad I have been thinking about this for some time now and the idea behind UpGrad in many ways was formulated from our combined thought processes on how new technologies are impacting Indian industries at large, and the Indian IT industry in particular – a topic that is being discussed everyday in our media in the form of job losses, firing, layoffs, disappointing IT sector earnings etc. In the past few months we have all read and seen many stories around this increasingly uncertain world of technology and automation. Learn Online MBA Courses from the World’s top Universities. Earn Masters, Executive PGP, or Advanced Certificate Programs to fast-track your career. One can look at this as glass half empty, or one can be optimistic about what is happening around us. I have always believed that the gloom surrounding the number of jobs being lost is not adequately compensated by the optimism on the types and magnitude of jobs being created in new-age areas of data, digital, products, cybersecurity etc. With an acute shortage of 2 lakh professionals in Data Analytics by 2018, 1.5-2 lakh jobs in Digital Marketing and thousands of jobs in the Product Management space expected to come up, we are faced with a new challenge of matching this demand for new job roles in emerging areas, with adequate supply. The conventional education model is letting us down in this regard. Top 5 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Be Asking Themselves Today, more than 80% of engineering graduates are unemployable. Roughly 50-60% of employers are facing difficulty in filling jobs. The head of a leading technology consulting firm was recently quoted as saying that about 65% of IT employees are not even re-trainable. It does sound a bit scary… I guess in this entire narrative what we have failed to see is that those employed in the IT sector are too comfortable – doing the same thing over and over again. The fact that a lot of what they do is getting obsolete, hasn’t sunk in. Everyone is thinking that their company will help them get re-skilled. But the Indian IT services sector in India employs roughly 3.5 million and the challenge of upskilling the IT sector workforce puts the industry and young India at a crossroad. One where individuals must get up and take charge of their career – on their own. https://journal.upgrad.com/employability-solution-skill-development/ If you were once a systems administrator you could now be a system and network architect. If you worked as a web designer, opportunities in UX are now knocking at your door. You could go from being a project manager to a product manager and much, much more! This is why, at UpGrad, we have committed to the cause of preparing the driven, ambitious and motivated youth of India for the careers of tomorrow. We believe that instead of getting swept away by the wave of automation, one should ride it and take charge of their career. Our programs around Data Analytics, Product Management, Digital Marketing, etc, have been carefully created keeping this very objective in mind. We have been fortunate enough to witness tangible change in the lives of our students. These are extremely motivated individuals who decided to upgrade their skills at the right time and successfully transition into newer fields. We have seen hundreds of career transitions with 30%+  salary hikes. About 80% of our batch of Data Analytics students belonged to an IT background and they were able to get jobs at companies like E&Y, KPMG, Fractal Analytics, Societe Generale, PayTM, Shopclues, Phillips, WNS and many more. We have proven that just because a program is online does not mean that the education is less rigorous. The programs that we have created push individuals to learn new concepts, equip themselves with new skills and be ready to face the future. One of our students, Thulasiram, made a remarkable shift from the Navy into Data Analytics. He says – “I was ready to push myself, challenge myself to be able to learn Data Analytics. I knew that would be the game-changer in my career.” Data Analytics Student Speak: Story of Thulasiram Cities such as Bangalore had made a similar change possible many years ago and were largely responsible for the rise of the Indian middle class. In Karnataka itself, (given that it is home to Bangalore – the true Silicon Valley of India) in 2015-16, revenue from exports of electronics, IT software and BT fell by 65 percent from 2014-15, according to a newspaper report. In addition, in 2015-17, tens of thousands of IT employees were laid off­ by giants like Wipro, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and even start-ups like Flipkart. The rise of the Indian middle-class was made possible by the rise of IT in India; it is now time for a similar structural adjustment with respect to data and digital technologies – better known as the Fourth Industrial revolution. The only way it will happen is if individuals take charge of their career and not expect others to help them! If you want to learn more about marketing and entrepreneurship, Liverpool Business School & upGrad offers Master of Business Administration (MBA) Liverpool Business School which helps you to transform your career. The program provides 1-on-1 mentorship from industry leaders, 1-week immersion program at University campus, dual credentials (MBA from LBS & PGPM from IMT), network with peers at offline basecamps and more.

by Mayank Kumar

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11 May 2017

The Idea Called UpGrad: The Path-Breaking Data Analytics Program
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The Idea Called UpGrad: The Path-Breaking Data Analytics Program

This is the last of the third-part series written by Co-Founder and CEO, UpGrad, Mayank Kumar Some early signs we have observed in the online education market have reinforced faith in the online education space in India. More specifically: a) Our Entrepreneurship Program tangibly impacting the entrepreneurial journeys of our program participants; b) Our Data Analytics course totally surprised us with the response that it got from the market and; c) Some personal stories on how UpGrad’s program has changed the way our students look at education. I talked about the first point regarding the impact of our entrepreneurship program, in my previous post. In this third post of the series, I will touch upon the b) and c) aspects. The Idea Called UpGrad: Why Education is Serious Business Check out our data science certifications to upskill yourself Data went big… Image source: TechandMate Let’s begin with our experience with the Data Analytics program in collaboration with IIIT Bangalore. We launched this program in May 2016. Priced at INR two lacs, this was one of the most expensive programs in our portfolio. We were expecting 100-150 odd students as the price point was high, the program duration was nine months and it was conducted completely online. To our surprise, we found the program was being oversubscribed to! 300 students enrolled for the program and paid INR two lacs upfront. The overall value of online education – where you can gain new skills/qualification while continuing to work – excited a lot of working professionals and we saw participation from people across experience levels. It is again a strong validation of our hypothesis that online programs offer a viable option to many working professionals who may not have time to leave their job to learn a new skill. Also, to our surprise, we found many folks with 10+ years of work experience taking up the program. This again illuminates one of our hypotheses, that many want to learn and stay relevant, but lack access to quality and credible options. At UpGrad, our goal is to empower these individuals to help them meet their full professional potential, and this experiment helped us get just a little bit closer Our learners also read: Top Python Courses for Free Changing lives… Lastly, I would like to share a story of one of our students in data analytics. We understand that the education sector has massive opportunity to build a scalable business. What is equally important, however, is to appreciate and understand the long-term impact that education can have on an individual’s life. One of our students, Thulasiram, has been in the naval forces since a very young age – he joined almost immediately after school, right after graduating from the 10th standard. He dropped out of formal education at a young age and never had the flexibility or option to go back to an offline campus. He completed his entire higher education through the distance education mode and then went on to become an instructor at a naval college. upGrad’s Exclusive Data Science Webinar for you – Transformation & Opportunities in Analytics & Insights document.createElement('video'); https://cdn.upgrad.com/blog/jai-kapoor.mp4 Top Essential Data Science Skills to Learn SL. No Top Data Science Skills to Learn 1 Data Analysis Certifications Inferential Statistics Certifications 2 Hypothesis Testing Certifications Logistic Regression Certifications 3 Linear Regression Certifications Linear Algebra for Analysis Certifications Thulasiram joined UpGrad’s program to learn about data analytics, and gain a new qualification. Personally, it gave me extreme satisfaction when one day he mentioned that across all his higher education programs and degrees, he never had to study for more than a day to get the degree. And it is the first time at UpGrad that he is receiving “real education” and feeling the presence of a real challenge. Explore our Popular Data Science Degrees Executive Post Graduate Programme in Data Science from IIITB Professional Certificate Program in Data Science for Business Decision Making Master of Science in Data Science from University of Arizona Advanced Certificate Programme in Data Science from IIITB Professional Certificate Program in Data Science and Business Analytics from University of Maryland Data Science Degrees Read our popular Data Science Articles Data Science Career Path: A Comprehensive Career Guide Data Science Career Growth: The Future of Work is here Why is Data Science Important? 8 Ways Data Science Brings Value to the Business Relevance of Data Science for Managers The Ultimate Data Science Cheat Sheet Every Data Scientists Should Have Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Become a Data Scientist A Day in the Life of Data Scientist: What do they do? Myth Busted: Data Science doesn’t need Coding Business Intelligence vs Data Science: What are the differences? “I am getting real education from here. Want to learn – that’s all”, Very few things can bring the kind of joy that positively impacting someone’s life in this way, can. This, to me, is the real power of education (online or offline). If UpGrad can deliver real quality education – that makes people learn new concepts, question the answer, debate, be creative and push their limits – we will remain on our path to achieving our purpose, and in that process, build a satisfying business venture at scale. Featured Program for you: MS in Data Science from University of Arizona

by Mayank Kumar

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20 Mar 2017

Post Budget Reactions – How Did the Education Sector Fare?
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Post Budget Reactions – How Did the Education Sector Fare?

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post, India. It has been authored by Mayank Kumar and Apoorva Shankar. In a previous article, we jotted down our expectations from the Union Budget 2017-18. As a sequel to this piece, let’s see whether the budget could live up to these expectations. This budget was touted as a crucial one for many reasons. The most important being the time at which it was being presented — right after the historic demonetisation move and at a point that marks the halfway milestone for the Narendra Modi government. One great highlight of this budget was its focus on enhancing the quality of education. While all eyes were on black money and corruption disincentives, easing cashlessness for the masses and farmers, as well as an increased impetus for real-estate, other infrastructure and industry — something that is always an expectation from this government — social sector reforms always end up taking a large chunk of the Central funds pie. The Best Time to Learn is Now: Free Learning Week Powered by UpGrad Take education for example. The entire sector has been allocated ₹79,686 crore this year, with the Department of School Education and Literacy receiving ₹46,356 crore and the Department of Higher Education getting ₹33,330 crore. Higher education allocation has increased once again this year by approximately 12% (from revised estimates of 2016-17 to budget estimates of 2017-18) compared to a subsequent roughly 6% increase within school education. While overall this is good news, let’s take a quick look at what the Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, proposed in his speech and what it specifically held for the education sector. Quality of education One great highlight of this budget was its focus on enhancing the quality of education. For more than a decade now there has been a lot of public debate surrounding the quality of school education and how to maximise learning outcomes rather than focus disproportionately on inputs such as school infrastructure, etc. In this direction, the FM has proposed a new category for the assessment of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s progress. All interventions within the scheme will now also be mapped along quality and learning outcomes. 32 Marketing Ideas from a Marketing Growth-a-thon Emphasis on research The government’s announcement to empower higher educational institutions to become world-class institutions with a focus on research is an admirable one. Much has been said and written about the dwindling funds for high-quality research within Indian higher education institutions and thus, the difficulty in retaining good faculty, etc. In addition, a Higher Education Financing Agency will be set up with an initial capital of ₹1000 crore. Moreover, reforms in the pipeline for the higher education regulator, UGC, and more autonomy for institutes spells good news for the sector. Outcome-based accreditation will be on the agenda. A boost to entrepreneurship The Centre’s commitment to entrepreneurship education and training should also spur economic growth and help in achieving the ambitious GDP target set between 7-8%. Start-Up Founders Listen Up! Freedom at Work is the Key to Success Online learning From a policy perspective, it is encouraging to see a mindset shift. This is evident with the launch of a platform called SWAYAM, which will offer more than 350 online courses for free. This should propel online education significantly in the country and enable much-needed and large scale adoption of on-the-go, flexible, outcome-based and high-quality education. Developing the online education ecosystem in the country will not only address the challenge of access, but also allow content to be adapted real-time, basis relevance and industry needs, etc. Incentive for continuing education while working Some cheer has come for working professionals trying to up-skill themselves and learning while doing full-time or part-time jobs. Those who are non-resident IIM students and enrolled in the PGDM program have now been provided service tax relief. This is encouraging in light of scores of working professionals who are now studying, and trying to acquire newer skills, while working. Launching UpGrad Xchange – Where Sharp Minds Meet A note of caution The Budget, however, is far from breaking the status quo when it comes to the education sector. While more details are awaited on the break-up within all schemes, etc, from initial announcements and allocations many promises do seem like lip-service and only future courses of action will determine how much really changes. All in all, the increasing focus on higher education, digital and online education, as well as learning outcomes and improving quality are heartening to witness in the form of budget proposals, only the test of time can help us deliver a verdict. This post has been co-authored by Apoorva Shankar, Head of Content Marketing at UpGrad.

by Mayank Kumar

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13 Feb 2017

CEO Speak: Union Budget 2017 and What’s in it for Education
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CEO Speak: Union Budget 2017 and What’s in it for Education

This article was originally published in HuffPost India and Business Today. As all eyes now turn towards the Government of India in anticipation of the Union Budget 2017-18, one of the questions we should all be asking is, what will it hold for the education sector? Over the last 10 years or so, education policy has seen many ups and downs. While the allocations to the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Human Resource Development saw a roughly consistent increase from 2008-09 to 2014-15, this changed from 2015-16 onward. This may have largely been due to the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the impact of which was felt in the quantum of Union allocations decreasing, with the expectation that state budgets would make up for it, especially in the case of centrally sponsored schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. While this may have been the case, it is unclear to what extent states have done so, and therefore highly probable that overall funds to the education sector have been cut. The true metric of success for higher education is not just showering national institutes with funds. It also means building the ecosystem… While the school education sector (elementary and secondary education) saw a nominal increase of 3% from revised estimates of 2014-15 (₹42,220 crore) to budget estimate of 2015-16 (₹43,554 crore), and a major dip before that from 2013-14 to 2014-15, higher education was better off seeing a 14% increase from revised to budget estimates of successive years (₹25,399 core in 2014-15 to ₹28,840 crore in 2015-16). Ever since this government came to power, one great standout has been the increased focus on higher education. (Also Read: How Product Managers Visualize Data) In 2016-17, under the Department of Higher Education, ₹7997 crore was intended to be spent on general higher education. Expenditure on e-learning such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and ICT was estimated at ₹552 crore. While the funding for Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) was estimated at ₹4984 crore in 2016-17, the funding for National Institutes of Technology (NITs) was ₹2630 crore and for Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) ₹730 crore. The funds allocated to the Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyan went up by 13% this year, from the 2015-16 budget allocation. All in all, things are looking up for higher education. Moreover, the government’s increased attention towards skill development and its acknowledgement that education is not going to be enough without a high employability quotient, is reassuring. However, in an absolute sense, higher education (college and university level) still lags behind elementary education, i.e., standard one to eight. Elementary education has gone from 52% of the total education budget in 2014-15, to 48% in 2015-16 and finally, 45% in 2016-17. On the other hand, higher education went from 33% to 39% to 40%, along the same timeline. Image source: Rediff Now, there are three main challenges that the government is yet to tackle. These are what we should be keeping an eye out for in the upcoming Budget: 1. Enhance the quality of primary education The true metric of success for higher education is not just showering national institutes with funds. It also means building the ecosystem and providing high-quality education that prepares outgoing students for a rapidly evolving workforce. While some methodologies have been developed by the government and private bodies to measure learning outcomes/quality of school education, it is tough to do this for higher education as the success metrics are varied. If students are not learning at the very first rung of the ladder, it is unrealistic to expect them to even reach the last rung of higher education… However, going by learning outcomes of schoolchildren at large: standard five students who can read a standard two level text has declined from 56.7% from 2007 to 42.2% in 2014 in government schools. The corresponding decline in private schools is from 69% to 62.5%. In addition, the percentage of standard five students who can do division has declined from 41% in 2007 to 20.7% in 2014 in government schools. In private schools, this percentage has reduced from 49.4% to 39.3%. The situation is not looking good. (Also Read: Top Data Analytics Trends to Follow in 2017!) Naturally, if students are not learning at the very first rung of the ladder, it is unrealistic to expect them to even reach the last rung of higher education, let alone excel at it. The government should act as an enabler and allow only those institutions to thrive that strive for excellence, rather than get caught up in the pointless debate of public vs private. 2. Bring focus back to secondary education The next issue is the lack of adequate attention being paid to secondary education (standard 8 to 12). The Union Budget has always fallen short of expectations when it comes to this segment. Over the past few years, allocation to this segment has stagnated around a lowly 13-14% of the total education budget. Not only this, there is no law backing secondary education either, unlike the Right to Education Act, 2010, which makes it compulsory for the government to provide elementary education for all. (Also Read: Start-Up Founders Listen Up! Freedom at Work is the Key to Success) Thus, secondary education in India is not only suffering from poor learning outcomes but also low enrollment (averaging at about 49% for the last 10 years) and high dropout rates (average of 54% over a decade, till standard 10). Image source: William and Mary School of Education   3. Promote technology for learning The final but equally important issue would be the adoption of technology to enhance and support learning. Although the government is making some advancements in this area through initiatives such as the Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan (a scheme targeted at students between six to 18 years of age and aimed at inculcating a scientific spirit in them) as well as initiatives where existing schemes will be implemented with the help of ICT such as, Swachh Vidyalaya, etc, it has a long way to go when it comes to pedagogy, quality, technology platform and other services support that can be provided to students, across all education segments. (Also Read: 32 Marketing Ideas from a Marketing Growth-a-thon) The government, as well as industry representatives, must begin to think about what we can do for higher education— the implications for not doing so would be dire for our economy and the future of our demographic dividend. With these points in mind, we are hopeful for a big, optimistic and transformational Union Budget 2017-18. – This post was co-authored by Apoorva Shankar. To know more about our courses in Data Analytics, Product Management, Entrepreneurship and Digital Marketing; visit us at UpGrad. 

by Mayank Kumar

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27 Jan 2017

The Idea Called UpGrad: A Start For Start-Ups
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The Idea Called UpGrad: A Start For Start-Ups

This is the second of a three-part series written by Co-Founder and CEO, UpGrad, Mayank Kumar Faced with the challenges that I spoke about in my previous post (The Idea Called UpGrad: Why Education Is Serious Business), my co-founders and I set off on what would not just be an arduous journey, but possibly a back-breaking one. Were we going to make it through the other end? Was there to be an end, at all? Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs… We launched our first Leadership & Management program. Why Entrepreneurship? If learning should lead to increased employability, generate more jobs and higher pay grades, then won’t entrepreneurship, in the next decade, be the largest needle mover for new jobs in the country? Can entrepreneurship really be taught? Our answer was ‘yes’. That answer, unfortunately, made it challenging. We thought that if we need to see whether online works or not, we would need to take a program, which for most people might be categorized as ‘a nice thing to do’ and not necessarily something they ‘need to do’. We dove headfirst to challenge that very assumption. And finally, it was a great case for us to display the power of online, as well as its engagement and learning hooks. Not just a content library… When we started this program, we got many questions and assumptions ranging from – Can entrepreneurship be taught? Whatever there is to know is available online for free; and If you don’t do it yourself, what can a program teach you? With all these questions in mind, we were very clear on what we wanted to achieve with this program, and that was providing clarity of thought to aspiring entrepreneurs. We were also very clear that we did not want this to just be a content library rather the program must have a tangible impact on an individual’s career and profession. We ended up successfully training 400+ entrepreneurs. Mayank’s recent article in YourStory on why online education is more than a content library And the journey begins… We kick-started this program in November 2015, after which we started two more batches in April and June 2016. Our fourth batch recently went live in October 2016. We have got 5000+ applications till date, across batches and, after filtering them through a selection process, we admitted a total of 400 to our class, in a very short period. Each of them has paid INR 50,000 for this three-month program – a first in the online space in India (we’ve had more firsts since). Top 5 Questions Entrepreneurs Should Be Asking Themselves  I’m graduating today… online! Of our first batch of 100+ participants, our completion rates were 95%+ (which is unheard of in online education) projecting a very high level of engagement. We had the first ever online graduation ceremony for this first batch! The Start-Up Guide: What Do Investors Look For? Impact… When our batch started; 50% of the students were still in jobs but looking to get clarity from our program on when they should make a switch, and of that 60% are now out of those jobs and starting up their own enterprises! 50% of our program participants could launch their product in the market post completing the program and 10% of them got their first funding – partly based on the confidence they got from the program and partly from the Pitch-Day we hosted for all those who had completed the program. These are small numbers, given that India will need 100X of this to start up but it’s a good star and a very strong affirmation that online learning in India will have its skeptics but only results will show otherwise. When we decided to measure the impact on our graduating class, we were surprised to find that: 90% pivoted their business model  Half of our participants launched their product  One-third saw an increase in their revenue; attributed to the program   And half of them found the right business partners, in their batch-mates These are encouraging signs for building the ecosystem for online education. Building the credibility of online education is going to be important and I think this impact assessment that we conducted has validated our approach. In my next post, read about the launching of our Data Analytic Program and how we proceeded with it.

by Mayank Kumar

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08 Dec 2016

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