India’s Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education is substantially lower when compared to that of the US and other emerging economies. This is mainly due to two reasons: a) Inability of the Indian government to provide brick and mortar institutions to cater to a large, eligible student population and b) Shortage of quality faculty. This has led to the emergence of alternative methods of learning (AMLs) such as learning through correspondence, internet-based learning, satellite-based learning, and other hybrid models. The inability of the Indian government to keep pace with the required GER through more brick and mortar institutions, coupled with the emergence of AMLs, has created a large opportunity for private sector participation in AMLs. AMLs can have a significant outreach, while alleviating the need for a large pool of trained faculty. Investments in AMLs have proved to be capital efficient and scalable. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the impact and sustainability of AMLs in India. Given this framework and background, two private investments in the AMLs space were monitored: Universal Training Solution (UTS), which is a leading online and distance education provider in the higher education and skilling space in India; and WizIQ, which is a fast growing global online virtual classroom and marketplace. This paper evaluates the outcomes of private sector participation in the AML space on the various stake holders including the student community, working professionals and corporations along with commercial viability of such investments. Based on the outcomes measured through the study of two business models focusing on online delivery of education, the paper makes recommendations to organizations in the online education space. The paper has limitations though as the business models evaluated in this paper (UTS and WizIQ.com) have been in existence for less than three years. Hence future research may be required in a couple of areas. However, the paper does provide direction as to the possible future of higher education in India and whether bricks can indeed be bridged by clicks.
|Keywords:||Online Learning, Virtual Classrooms, e-Learning, Distance Education|
General Partner, Kaizen Private Equity, Mumbai, India