Online mode of Higher Education to witness 14.5% growth rate: Report

‘The UGC regulations for online programs allowing Universities in India to offer online degree programs and the government’s impetus on improving the gross enrolment ratio will boost the online higher education industry,’ states the latest report from Schoolguru Eduserve (a TeamLease group company). According to the report titled ‘Trends and opportunities in the online learning market’, the enrolment in Online Degree/ Diploma Programs will witness a 14.5% CAGR growth and will reach 63.63 lacs by 2022. As per the analysis, the enrolment growth that India will witness will be comparable to that of the United States of America and Europe. During the academic year 2015-17, the online higher education enrolment in US and Europe were 16% and 12% respectively.

As per the study, the positivity is not limited to formal higher education alone, in fact, the entire gamut of online education eco-system – formal degree / diploma programs and re-skilling programs – will see an exponential growth. The total enrolment in online education is estimated to grow at 33.6% CAGR and cross 2.12 crore by 2022. The online re-skilling and certification market (for the repair and upgrade) is expected to touch INR 3,333 crore by 2022.

Key findings of the report

  • The Indian Higher Education market is set to grow at 6.09% CAGR (2018 – 2022).
  • Total enrolments [Degree/Diploma] shall grow at 8.2% CAGR from 3.66 crore in 2018 to 4.63 Crore in 2022.
  • Online degree programs were not legal in India all this while and Universities will start offering these courses from AY 2019. Online Program enrolments [Degree/Diploma] shall see a 14.5% CAGR growth from Nil (2018) to 63.63 lacs (2022).
  • Indian higher education market has a significant tilt towards the under-graduate programs that comprise of about 63% of the total student base. However, with the expansion of the re-skilling market this percentage is set to change.
  • The “Reskilling” component of Online Education is estimated to grow at 22.23% CAGR from an estimated 66.47 lacs (2018) to 1.48 crore (2022).
  • The online re-skilling and certification market (for the repair and upgrade segment) is expected to touch INR 3,333 crore, growing at 38% CAGR between 2018 and 2022 and shall definitely be larger than the traditional degree programs.
  • Enrolments for Online Degree/Diploma education in India are expected to grow at a rate (14.5% CAGR) that is comparable to enrolment growth in the US and Europe markets (16.8% and 12.1% respectively, over 2015 – 2017).
  • 66% of the students in US universities pursue associate and bachelor degree and 56% of the students in European universities pursue higher education.
  • Online education has rapidly evolved over the past 5 years and is set to enter the era of Virtual and Augmented Reality at the learner-end and AI and machine learning at the back-end.
  • Bachelor of Arts is the most popular under-graduation program, followed by Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce. However, for the Post graduation courses, students prefer Social Sciences, Management and pure Sciences as their stream of choice.
  • About 42% of the students undergoing a graduation program want to be employed at the end of their courses.
  • The Indian secondary education has 94% students being taught in the vernacular medium, the largest amongst them being in Hindi. Hence it becomes important for Universities to ensure that the online programs that they offer are available in vernacular medium also.
  • Indian learners prefer to use their mobile phones (80% learners) to access their online courses due to increased mobility and convenience; albeit they shift to using desktops for heavy course material that need the student to carry out practice driven tasks.

Speaking about the report and the growth prospectus of online higher education, Mr. Shantanu Rooj, CEO and Founder, Schoolguru Eduserve Pvt. Ltd, said, “Online education is not only a growing industry, it is an effective model that can address the challenges of cost, equity, and employability for our education system and help the industry in the prepare, repair and upgrade of its workforce. Online learning can provide a potent alternative for the massification of higher education thereby helping the country improve its GER rates from the current 25% to the targeted 30%. Further, if blended with on- job learning, online education has the potential to dramatically improve the employability of our youth”

As per the detailed report, gaining knowledge (33%) and securing better job prospects (27%) are the key drivers that are prompting students to opt for online higher education. From a program perspective, associate and bachelors’ degrees are the most preferred programs. In fact, more than two-third of the students in India prefer to pursue an associate or a bachelors’ degree. Further, from a stream point of view Arts, Science and Commerce are expected to be the key drivers of the enrolment growth.

Apart from the growth drivers, the report also delves into the challenges that can impact the growth.  As per the report, the biggest challenge that the industry is facing is lack of awareness, which raises concerns about the authenticity of the courses. The other hindrances are unavailability of qualified online instructors, inadequate student-faculty interactions, lack of enough understanding among the instructors to coordinate online assessments, duration of the course, the course content design, lack of innovation in the content, lengthy enrolment procedure and high fees.

The report also shares suggestions that can help fix the challenges and maintain the growth momentum. Some of the recommendations are

  • Adopt a collaborative approach between online program management (OPM) players and Universities, wherein the OPM players lend their technological and strategic capabilities and Universities provide their academic expertise.
  • Develop innovative products addressing the rapidly growing re-skilling and up-skilling market.
  • Create courses that are contextual to the job-role, have flexible entry and exit points, varied durations and provide transferrable credits.
  • Re-look at the medium of instruction and offer subject materials in vernacular mediums as only 6% of the students who pass higher secondary are from English medium.
  • Incorporate continuous technological innovation and up-gradation to stave off obsolescence.
  • Adopt best practices and emulate the successes from across the globe.

The ‘Trends and opportunities in the online learning market’ report is the first in a series of knowledge leadership initiatives from Schoolguru Eduserve to curate an ongoing discourse on the state of Open and Distance Learning in India.