There has been a dramatic increase in the number of students studying online in India since March 2020. The lockdown and fear of Covid-19 has taken schools, colleges and educational institutions online. Some edu-tech platforms have seen their user base double in the last 10 months in both segments- paid and free unique users in the K12 and post K-12 segments. Today, the number of students online stands at 90 million and will only grow from here. According to a report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India, the online education market for class 1-12 is projected to increase 6.3 times in the next one year and create a $1.7 billion market. The post K-12 market is set to grow 3.7 times to touch $1.8 billion.
Edutech platform upGrad reached a million users recently. It grew 100% in 9 months from the start of the financial year and is targeting Rs. 2500 crore in revenue for FY21-22. The platform has forecasted that it will reach the 2 million user mark within the next 18 months.
Even though upGrad has the highest ARPU programs among edutech platforms, students have increasingly subscribed to their programs highlighting the need for upskilling to remain relevant in the job market.
Job-seekers and recruiters are becoming better at traversing online mediums. When recruitment was frozen online learning platforms helped job-seekers to upskill seamlessly. “upGrad has been instrumental in getting over 1200 learners placed in 450 + reputed brands” says Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman & Co-Founder, upGrad. According to upGrad Data Labs, an internal arm for producing industry & company-specific data-driven reports & insights, the average pay hikes were to the tune of 46% well above the industry standards of 20-30%.
For BYJU’S also, with the onset of the pandemic there was a massive uptake in users, with over 40 million new students using their learning apps. Students from metros and non-metros alike have been increasingly accessing BYJU’S lessons. Student engagement rates increased by 30%, with students spending 100 min on the app instead of 71 minutes, per day.
Both companies believe that this growth, while accelerated by the pandemic, is sustainable. According to a BYJU’S internal survey, over 75% of parents want their children to continue learning online, even post the pandemic. The company is positive that this significant change in mindset will contribute to the steady growth of the edtech industry in the future.
“I believe we will witness the rise of a blended format of learning that combines the best of online and offline learning. The future will witness a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning formats,”
– Divya Gokulnath, Co-Founder, BYJU’S
Unacademy believes quality education has unfortunately been a privilege enjoyed by residents of larger Indian cities. With the astronomic rise of EdTech, the barrier to access has been demolished, allowing quality education at affordable rates.
“At Unacademy, we have enabled learners from all corners of India to learn from the best educators, at a fraction of the cost. We have a high learner base in Tier II and III towns; in fact 70% of our learners come from small towns.” says Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder & CEO at Unacademy. He believes that industry and market opportunity is still yet to be tapped and such a growth trend will continue.
The Effect on Publishing
Print in India shrunk to 25-30% of pre-Covid levels. Also, since the lockdown led to adoption of digital as the mainstream mode of teaching and learning, the demand for educational books dropped by 40-50% due to closing of schools and colleges. Universities are now embracing online education demanding digital learning solutions including labs, courseware and e-books. Stay at home learning is driving the need for digital courseware.
Publishers need to evolve in such a way that creates value. Publishers find it difficult to make online publishing monetizable as people expect online content to be free. In this difficult scenario, publishers who recognise the importance of technology as an enabler will be able to succeed by developing a viable learning ecosystem as a tool for universities, else they stand the risk of losing sooner or later. “We’ve been on a journey of transformation since well before COVID-19, executing a bold strategy to deliver tech-enabled products and services that accelerate the success of the world’s researchers, its learners, and its professionals,” says Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India
The Gaps That Got Created During The Pandemic
Chegg, an education technology company that provides physical and digital textbook rentals, online study help, skills training, and other student services says that nearly 60% of Chegg users polled during the pandemic said their in-person academic services, like tutoring or writing labs, were not made available online. One in four were unable to get Q&A help from their professors and 80% could not reach their TAs either. As a result, more and more are turning to online resources to keep up with their courses.
Since the pandemic, educational institutions around the world have transitioned to e-learning, and many are yet to return to in-person learning. “In August, Chegg.org polled 1,000 US high school and college students, and nearly half (46%) said they felt anxious about returning to school. It’s clear that students want part of their learning experience to remain online,” says Vijay T.S., Managing Director, Chegg India.
The focus at Unacademy is to build world class products that democratise access to quality education. “We are working on some products which will be 10X better than any other similar product in the market. Graphy and Mastree are already top-of-the-line products in their respective spaces,” says Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder & CEO at Unacademy.
The Future: Physical vs Online
Covid-19 has altered the landscape of education. Even large universities are adopting e-learning and thus in turn saving on investment in more physical infrastructure. This is also making education more accessible and affordable. Ever since the pandemic, upGrad enabled over 100 universities and colleges, including MHRD’s NIRF Top 100 universities to replicate their classes online.
“In 2020, a batch of 2859 learners, marked IIIT Bangalore’s largest convocation in the past 21 years and perhaps also the largest ever online course convocation in India.” says Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman & Co-Founder, upGrad. Edutech platforms have an important role to play in supporting physical institutes’ shift to online learning and working with them to give students the best possible learning support.
Upskilling & Jobs
According to upGrad Q2 reports, PG Diploma in Data Science, PG Certification in Digital Marketing and Communication, & PG Diploma in Machine Learning and AI have received the highest demand on the platform. Those with skills in AI & ML, Data Science, IoT and Cybersecurity are in high demand, many of them even providing placement assistance.
“Several traditional sectors, including banks and financial institutions, have switched gears to incorporate more digital technologies on a large scale. In fact, hiring for Data Analyst, Data Scientist, and Data Engineers, etc. to drive businesses has spiked tremendously,”
-Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman & Co-Founder, upGrad.
According to a recent study from the World Economic Forum and LinkedIn, by 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly. Wiley helps higher education institutions and leading employers to enable the future of education. ”WileyNXT, is a transformative job-readiness bridge education program which aims to create a future-ready workforce for the digital economy and place students in top technology companies,”says Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India. WileyNXT skills university candidates, certifies them and helps them get placed with technology partners.
Overall, edutech platforms will not only themselves continue to grow, in both K12 and post K12 segments bringing in more students from metros and non-metros online, but will also serve as a means to get better jobs via upskilling and assist physical institutions in taking part of their curriculum, as required, online.
“Edtech platforms do have the power to transform the traditional graduation and post-graduation culture from colleges.”
– Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman & Co-Founder, upGrad
“Our vision at BYJU’S is to re-define the future of learning and the way children learn. Our goal beyond numbers is to continue empowering students to become self-driven, lifelong learners. From introducing courses in vernacular languages to launching more subjects, we will continue to strengthen our offerings and penetrate further into India to address the learning needs of all students.”
– Divya Gokulnath, Co-Founder, BYJU’S
“The Pandemic has accelerated digital innovation in the Edtech space to solve real problems such as; cloud based learning simulators for low bandwidth, social collaborations in online classrooms, building interactivity. Institutions on the other hand are investing in upskilling the teachers, new grading systems, adapting to a completely new pedagogy as digital isn’t about taking the text online rather a completely new way of learning. Having said that, I feel, K-12 will see digital as an augmentation to in person learning while Higher Education will adapt digital as an active part of the pedagogy.”
– Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India
“The skills that employers are after are changing. Businesses are increasingly skeptical about whether colleges are producing the job-ready graduates they need. Success in the modern workplace often relies on specialized technical expertise, project skills, and continually updated knowledge – not necessarily best delivered by a once-in-a-lifetime four years at college. People need a better and quicker ROE – return on education.”
Vijay T.S., Managing Director, Chegg India
“Learners across the country have realised the unparalleled benefits online education brings on the access, quality and affordability fronts.”
– Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder & CEO at Unacademy.