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Business News/ Companies / News/  ‘Hero Vired to be alternative to colleges, focus on skilling’

‘Hero Vired to be alternative to colleges, focus on skilling’

We shall measure the learning outcome of our students week-on-week, what skills they pick up and what industry is paying for this, says Akshay Munjal, Founder, BML Munjal University

Akshay Munjal, founder and CEO, Hero ViredPremium
Akshay Munjal, founder and CEO, Hero Vired

The Munjal family-led Hero Group on Tuesday ventured into the ed-tech space with its new venture Hero Vired to be led by Akshay Munjal, who heads BML Munjal University. The new venture will offer an alternative to colleges as a hybrid university and focus on employability, Munjal said in an interview with Mint. It will be an independent entity and focus on deep skills and deep tech, including financial technology, game design, machine learning, artificial intelligence, design and entrepreneurial thinking, he said. It will partner with top global brands such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Edited excerpts:

What prompted you to enter the ed-tech space now?

If you look at education globally, everything is moving online or to a hybrid model. Before launching Hero Vired, we looked at the skill gaps, did research for two years, spoke to companies on what they require now, and what they seek in the next five years, besides looking at institutes in the world that are best in content to fill up those gaps. Then we partnered with institutions such as MIT and Singularity University. MIT has created a lot of content globally… and we wish to offer cutting edge programmes in deep skills. We, in India, are in a unique paradox. Millions of graduates are not getting jobs but the industry says there is a dearth of talent and the government says it wishes to double the gross enrolment ratio. If you look at tier three and four colleges, students are spending a few lakhs of rupees each for the courses, but are not meaningfully employed.

Here we are set to provide an alternative in partnership with institutions such as MIT for content and best faculties from top institutions globally and teach through a hybrid model. We can also look at executives, who are stuck in their careers. The sweet spot of course is places where there is demand and will continue to have demand, industry is ready to pay a premium. So, our starting point is employability.

We already have a few companies in this space. How will Hero Vired differentiate itself?

No one is providing an alternative to a college. Some of the companies you named are either in competitive examinations, coaching or short term (three-to-nine-month skills enhancement) space. We will go beyond this and offer an alternative to tier three, tier four colleges. That’s a big market. India has enough talent, but what happens to those who don’t go to top institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology or the Indian Institutes of Management and other similar quality colleges because of tough competition. This is where we come in. There is a need to cater to those top-quality students.

We shall measure the learning outcome of our students week-on-week, what skills they pick up and what industry is paying for this and how the salary will move up the chart. All of this shall be measured. This is what we have worked on for the last two years. We have developed a tech platform, partnered with the best, got the best faculty. Interestingly, the new education policy is allowing online education and credit banking, and while everyone is talking about online now the future is in hybrid learning.

Will you offer full-fledged degrees?

MIT has a concept of micro-masters and they have been developing them for almost 20 years. The micro-masters and credits will come from MIT and, if you are planning to go abroad, lets say to MIT, then it will transfer to your masters or doctoral programmes. A student can bank his credits in India also. The difference in existing options and ours will be visible. In self-pace learning the completion rate is 5% and we shall bring in faculties, mentors for live interactions and teaching, and customise the context as per domestic needs. There will be regular assessment and feedback on learning outcomes and progress.

However, in the micro-master’s ecosystem, either in the online or blended mode, the issue is about quality, lack of peer learning, and crowding of candidates for courses, leading to very little handholding, How will you address these issues?

We are not looking at tens of thousands of students. In a year, we are just looking at 1,500 candidates for the whole venture. The Munjal family is funding it and I do not have pressure to reach X-number and Y-valuation. We shall have small batches and personalized learning. Almost 30% of our university students get scholarship, almost free education. Same family philosophy here, too, though the university and the ed-tech venture will be two separate entities. No deserving student will be denied admission because of financial factors. We are also tying up with loan providers to offers loans at a subsidized rate.

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Published: 13 Apr 2021, 03:47 PM IST
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