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NEW DELHI : American online education firm, Coursera, has no plan to diversify its product offerings to compete with Indian edtech platforms, such as Byju’s, said chief executive Jeff Maggioncalda.

In an interview, Maggioncalda said the Indian edtech sector has been “unsteady" and Coursera plans to continue offering quality education for adults, instead of expanding its focus on school students.

“Clearly there’s a massive need to educate hundreds of millions of people. What we have decided is that we’re going to stick to quality, and we’re going to stick to educating adults. There’s a really big difference between educating someone who’s in third grade and someone who is 50 years old," he said.

India’s edtech market, which boomed during the pandemic, is facing a turmoil as demand took a hit since the reopening of educational institutions with the easing of covid. This has led to reduced investor appetite in the sector, which raised over $4 billion in 2021. Last week, Byju’s announced plans to fire 2,500 staff in six months to turn profitable.

Maggioncalda acknowledged the “huge market" on the other side, but said it was also very competitive. “I’m not going to try to compete with a Byju’s in educating the young people. I don’t have a lot of strength there," he said. Coursera is better suited for higher education and students looking to enter the workforce, he added.

India is the second-largest country by user base for Coursera. Maggioncalda said the platform now has 17 million users in the country, and recorded growth of 34% in the last 12 months. The company also has 1,100 customers for Coursera for Campus, its online learning platform for universities, along with 1.7 million campus students.

“Everybody is trying to think about how to be online, and how to blend (hybrid). The experiments during , of integrating online courses, including courses from other universities and industry, has been an eye opener for all," said Maggioncalda.

He added that though employers in India are still looking for college degrees over certification courses, a certificate course along with a college degree is considered better. Sectors like banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), auto and telecom, with high degrees of digitization have been more accepting of such courses. Besides, tier II and III colleges see the integration of online courses as a way to “level the playing" field against top universities in India, he said.

“A lot of people fall into this dichotomy of what is going to win. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be traditional education integrating edtech," he said.

While IITs and IIMs are building courses for Coursera, it has tied up with Lakshmi Narain College of Technology, Bhopal, Shoolini University and Graphic Era University, Dehradun, LJ University, Karnavati University, CVM University and Marwadi University in Gujarat to offer courses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Prasid Banerjee

An engineering dropout, Prasid Banerjee has reported on technology in India for various publications. He reports on technology through text and audio, focusing on its core aspects, like consumer impact, policy and the future.
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