Trends for Indian Education Sector in 2010

Jan 14, 2010

Indian education sector has gained significant attention from policymakers, investors, and media in the year 2009. It was filled with enthusiasm at one level and anxieties at another level. The year 2010 will continue to be an important year with increasing demand for education and corresponding new ways of meeting those demands. Given below are the top five trends I expect for 2010.

What are your expectations for Indian education sector in 2010? Please share your comments at the bottom.

#1: Internationalization would become more glamorous:
Internationalization as a strategy for building reputation will gain more prominence. This may range from establishing international collaborations for student/faculty exchange programs to joint research projects and offshore campuses. Increasingly, international collaborations will go beyond American universities as more European universities are expected to show interest in India. Innovation universities planned by the Indian government may also attract some big names. Both the Indian and foreign universities are eagerly awaiting policy clarifications on the foreign university bill, which would help in formal campus-based presence for foreign universities (not-for-profit will not be welcomed).

#2: Policy landscape will become tougher, wider spectrum of institutional quality:
Quality of Indian higher education system has lagged behind the growth in quantity. Given the unfortunate state of regulatory mechanism in India, there are several changes expected in the direction of transparency and stricter norms. Several institutions need to shape up to fulfill the norms. For example, UGC's mandate that all institutions should have NAAC accreditation and deemed universities process is being reviewed. Likewise, AICTE is planning for more information sharing and accountability from institutions.

Given the resource constraints, majority of the institutions will continue to offer mediocre quality of education. On the other hand, a handful of institutions like ISB, Manipal and SP Jain, will continue to strengthen/achieve global benchmarks. New age universities like the NIIT University, Vedanta University, Azim Premji University and Reliance University will also create new standards of quality.

#3: Growth of multicampus model, for-profit will not be welcomed:
Competition and opportunity would compel institutions with resources to gain scale, move beyond their traditional markets and innovate the educational offerings. Multicampus models led by institutions like Amity, IBS and IIPM will continue to thrive. Even reputed institutions will be expanding. For example, Symbiosis expanding and Narsee Moonjee entering Bangalore. 

Despite significant interest from the "for-profit" sector both in India and abroad, 2010 is unlikely to bring any change in the policy that would openly support for-profit sector. Even the foreign universities bill is not expected to provide any easier opportunities for "for-profit" universities. Having said that entrepreneurs/investors with "for-profit" models will have significant opportunities in the informal education sector (skill development, elearing) or support services (technology, test prep).

#4: Technology adoption will increase:
With the growth in scale of the institutions and multicampus models, there will be increasing need for streamlining and controlling processes. Technology solutions in the form of campus management software packages will gain ground. Even course management tools will become prominent among faculty for efficiently organizing their classes.

Companies like Educomp and Everonn at one level would continue to grow with the adoption of technology-enabled learning and support systems for educational institutions. One the other hand, elearning organizations, like Tata Interactive serving corporate training and development segment would also continue to grow. At the student level, test prep websites like ndtvtutor.com and learnhub.com, which are leveraging social networking and technology platforms for improved assessment, information sharing and learning will also become popular.


#5: Demand of professional talent in education sector will increase:
Indian education sector is growing at a fast pace but the professionals including faculty and administrators are lagging behind both in quantity or quality. This will pose even more threatening scarcity about the availability of faculty. The expansion plans announced by the Indian government and entry of many more private players would require faculty members and given the shortage of faculty either the institutions would further start compromising on the quality of teaching or projects would delay/abort.

On the administrative front,  the issue is not only about the availability of education managers, but more so of the lack of recognition of the "profession of education management" in itself. More institutions, who are aiming for high quality offerings, would adopt and recognize that building world-class institutions requires world-class talent. Efforts of FICCI, EDGE and magazines like EDU would sensitize and advance the professionalization of higher education management.

Overall, I am optimistic about 2010 and expect many new players and innovative models in the sector that would attempt to disrupt the inefficiencies and quality concerns. Do you agree/disagree? Is there any other trend to look out for 2010 in Indian education sector? Share your comments below.

-Rahul Choudaha, PhD

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