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Photo: iStock

How top universities including IITs are redefining education amid COVID-19

  • From brick and mortar exclusive campuses, the country’s premier institutes are now collaborating with start-ups, and customizing content to offer shorter, industry specific courses

NEW DELHI : India’s top technology and B-Schools including IITs are gradually shedding their exclusivity in education offerings to reach out to the masses, and a pandemic that has pushed people to accept and learn differently is accelerating the process.From brick and mortar exclusive campuses, the country’s premier institutes are now collaborating with start-ups, and customizing content to offer shorter, industry specific courses. It is opening the institutes of eminence in India to the masses, helping them earn a good revenue and become financial sustainable.

“The attitude of top institutions has starting shifting from offering quality education to a captive audience to a mass base. They have research capability but lack outreach. They have great professors but lack the desire for marketing and branding content. They want industry partnership in learning process but sometime lack resources to invest in it," said Santanu Paul, chief executive of TalentSprint, an ed-tech firm that has tie up with several top schools including Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C) to Indian Institute Science (IISc) in Bengaluru.

Paul said public expenditure on education will shrink in future, this necessitates the need for becoming more industry ready. Customized courses for both early stage professionals, senior professional and students from not so good institution will see a great demand as the job market evolves and the desire to optimize resources gains ground.

Agreed Hari Krishnan Nair, co-founder of Great Learning, another edtech firm helping top schools go to masses via online and blended learning. “Changing regulations, desire to cater to masses and the business imperatives are driving such a change. And Pandemic has accelerated the processes as online education largely short- and medium-term gaining acceptance and recognition," Nair said, whose company has tied up with IIT-Madras to offer advance program in cloud, block chain and IoT.

“The covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge to society and to businesses...and we all need to rise to this challenge. IIM-C intends...to develop better learning solutions at scale for Indian working professionals as they adapt to the emerging post-pandemic world," said Anju Seth, director at IIM-Calcutta, a pioneer in such education offerings.

IIM-C has partnership with TalentSprint for a FinTech and AI-Powered Marketing programme, and an upcoming one on Global Economics and Digital Money. Just not IIM-C, and IIT Madras, institutes like IIT Hyderabad, IIT Kanpur, Indian Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT), BITS Pillani, NIMMIS (formerly known as Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies), MICA Ahmedabad, Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, Grate Lakes in Chennai has partnered with ed-tech firm to cater to a wider students’ base. Deep tech like cloud and IoT, management, fin-tech and digital healthcare are among a host of specialized courses such schools are offering.

"The pandemic has made industry executives acutely aware of the need to continually upgrade their professional skills, and simultaneously compelled educational institutions to devise more flexible and more modular structures of lifelong learning for working professionals," said Anirvan Pant, a professor at IIM-C.

Nair of Great Learning said top schools are coming on board with edtech firms because they see a huge potential in this market, their industry connect, and top-class branding and marketing exercise.

“Online learning of specialized courses is different from classroom learning. It’s an experience you offer to learners. Its market worthiness and how it will help people to accelerate careers in a tough environment," said Paul of TalentSprint.

“Online course with value additions like industry readiness, placement support and contemporary learning experience will drive the sector. Only a library model of online lectures will not be helpful," said Mayank Kumar, co-founder of upGrad, another Indian ed-tech startup that has partnered with top Indian and global schools to offer such courses.

Janakiraman, a professor of computer science and engineering at IIT Madras said “as the world increasingly adopts frontier technologies such as IoT, Cloud Computing and Blockchain, it is important for our software engineers and software professionals to master these technologies. This is important if India has to retain its edge in a Software-dominated world. As India’s pioneering institution, we, at IIT Madras are happy to offer this Advanced Software Engineering program in collaboration with Great Learning."

IIT Madras, has tied up with a number of edtech players to offer specialized courses and even has started a four-year graduation course on its own with multiple entry and exit options and have kept the marque joint entrance exam off its selection process for such program.

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