The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has led many to focus on upskilling for a dramatically altered and more competitive job market. Further, the recent announcements made by the government in relation to the New Education Policy, 2020, (NEP), which talk about enhancing the use of digital learning technologies and methods, could unleash tailwinds which would see the online higher education and lifelong learning market in India make a 10x growth in the next five years, and reach a market size of $5 Bn by FY2025, according to a recent report by RedSeer Consulting.
The National Education Policy (NEP), approved by the Union Cabinet on July 29, has a special focus on digital education and remote learning along with the question of equitable access to education given the digital divide in India.
According to the report, the growth in the sector would also be aided by macroeconomic factors such as easing of regulations for online degrees, plugging of supply-side capacity gaps and the realisation of the need for higher education and upskilling among students, among others.
The report mentions that of the $4-6 Bn market for online higher education and lifelong learning by FY25, 75% would be for online higher education while 25% would be for lifelong learning. The report adds that online higher education would benefit from increased public spending, targeted at 6% of the country’s GDP. The estimated figures include sales from edtech firms in India D2C (direct to consumer) sales only while discounting revenues from edtech firms based overseas.
As for the lifelong-learning market, the report cites factors such as a growing redundancy of skills, lack of industry-focused education and increasing unemployment as some of the reasons why people might opt for short-term online courses to gain proficiency in in-demand skills.
Indian Edtech Sector Poised For Growth
The edtech sector has witnessed a boom during the Covid-19 pandemic. While most of the Indian edtech platforms focus on the K12 segment and competitive exams preparation, a few such as upGrad also offer online degrees and diplomas in collaboration with top universities. Further, announcements made in the Union Budget this year allowed the top 100 Indian universities, as per the National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF), to offer full-fledged degree-level online education programmes. Currently, several Indian universities offer online-based distance-learning programmes.
According to the report, online higher education will play a significant role in fulfilling the supply needs for the growing body of students who will be seeking higher education in the coming years. From 40 Mn at present, with a Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 26% in higher education, if India meets its GER target of 50% by 2035 put forth in the NEP 2020, it would mean a body of 92 Mn students seeking higher education by 2035, growing at a CAGR of 6% as per government targets. Online higher education would need to be scaled up to meet the demands of these many students.
As for the larger Indian edtech sector, according to the ‘Future Of India’s $2 Bn Edtech Opportunity Report 2020’, capital inflows into the K12 and test preparation segments are comparatively higher. Together, K-12 and test preparation combined will make 66% ($1.3 Bn) of the total online education market size by 2021. Skill development and online certification are expected to account for $463 Mn of the Indian edtech segment, growing at a CAGR of 38% from 2016-21.