U Education aims to capitalise on the fast increasing demand for digital learning and online education
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | January 15, 2015
First generation entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala, credited with being one of the pioneers of the media sector, is making a foray into the education sector with the launch of U Education – a new age online company focussed on higher education. Screwvala has earmarked an outlay of Rs 100 crores in the first phase which go mainly into content, interactivity, platform, technology, assessments, adaptive learning, marketing and building a national footprint.
“India has the largest college going age cohort in the world, yet only one out five of them enrol into higher education, resulting in one of the lowest higher education enrolment ratios, even among most developing nations. If we have to meet our GDP growth targets, we need to at least double the participation rate immediately, otherwise we will miss out on our demographic dividend,” Screwvala said.
The Indian education sector is worth a little over $ 70 billion, of which Higher Education – comprising undergrad / post grad and doctorate – only account for $ 11 billion. The rest is broken up broadly with the bulk $ 40 billion coming from pre-school and K-12, and $ 4 billion from vocational education and another $ 15 billion being all the ancillary and support services (tutoring, uniforms, books and others). The sector needs over $ 200 billion in investment, between 2015 – 2020, to bridge some of the gap and get to a strong level of quality.
Mayank Kumar has come on board as Co-founder and Managing Director of U Education, with a decade of experience in the education sector across India, China, Latin America, SE Asia, Middle East and Africa. “Our goal will be to foster the next level of degree education / learning and train the next generation Indian workforce to take on the industries of the future,” he said.
U Education aims to capitalise on the fast increasing demand for digital learning and online education, leveraging technology and working to exceed the experiences and rigour even of on campus programs, whilst focussing on employability.
The perception of distance education programs in India had taken a beating in the past, driving a lot of Indian working professionals to take up MOOCs offering from the US, which may not be best suited for the Indian ecosystem. India, in fact, can leverage technology and bring in best of class experiences for our working professionals. In markets such as India, technology-based education can help leapfrog the capex-heavy traditional on-campus higher education and thereby increasing access.
“This sector is ready for disruption and innovation, the aspiration and ambition of young India has grown manifold, there is a willingness to pay for quality education and the digital and next-gen models are gaining acceptance amongst students, institutions and employers,” Screwvala observed, adding, “and our plan is to have a diverse set of offerings from the predictable ones in management, law, marketing, finance, technology, engineering to more in entrepreneurship, new economy expertise, and to cater to the growing sectors of sports, media, fashion, travel, hospitality and tourism.”
The needs of the industries are changing rapidly, and working professionals are looking to continuously upgrade their skills to meet the changing requirements of the industry. U Education will provide a flexible and personalised education to working professionals, and will cater to the specific requirements of new-age industries. The company aims to provide access to top-quality education to working adults, who otherwise have access to limited quality options.
When asked if any PE investment is envisaged, Screwvala commented, “No, we are fully committed to building the business without any distractions of external fund raising for the 3-5 year framework. Our focus is on scale, credibility, brand, original content, strong faculty, technology that lends to the best peer-to-peer interactions, all to create evolved graduates fit to take on the real world.”