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Understanding India: The future of higher education and opportunities

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We are living in an age of rapid technological changes. There is no industry or part of our life that has been untouched and changed by technology and the field of education is no different. Students are going to witness remarkable changes in the way they consume educational content, experience their college life and overall teaching pedagogy that we have been following for years. With the smartphone and internet penetration increasing in rural areas, these changes won’t be limited to urban areas but will change lives of students in rural areas too.

 

This opens up a range of opportunities for enterprising people wanting to begin their entrepreneurial journey in the education sector. India is one of the fastest growing markets in many segments and education is one of them. Furthermore, the recruiters and the corporate world has identified that a huge proportion of our graduates are not employable and the dissatisfaction of the students with current education system too, has reached a peak level. This make the current time to be the best to do a startup in the education sector.

The education industry faces a series of challenges and business need to understand the nuances of the education system to fully tackle them but there are several key areas that are going to define the future of higher education and opportunities that exist for people in the education sector.

future of higher education and opportunities

Expect an increase in the adoption of online education

Internet access is becoming common and among many uses, one of the major uses of internet is for learning. From just being a source for references, Internet is becoming a place where students can even get degree courses. Even in terms of online education, skill based courses specifically will be more in demand.

Opportunity –

Courses that have received accreditation from some prominent institute will see an uptick in enrolments. Furthermore, a reduction in the cost would really be able to make these courses receive mass adoption. Capsule courses that focus on teaching one specific skill (ex – leadership, negotiation) will be in demand as well.

 

Research driven pedagogy will become the dominant one

Curriculum that will involve lots of research and hands on experience (read – experiential learning) will be the preferred ones. Class lectures, assignments, terms and the other things that constitute regular pedagogy will be replaced by more hands on approach.

Opportunity –

Startups that can enable institutes to start or easily operate their experiential learning efforts by either creating content or connecting students to relevant sources can expect to do well.

 

Virtual reality and augmented reality will play a key role

Imagine models popping out of books that better explain the given topic, or simulation of different topics in the VR world that children won’t only learn from but also interact with. While VR is still a few years away from reaching a critical mass, augmented reality is widely used already (Snapchat, Pokemon Go) and will make its way into the education sector even more prominently.

Opportunity –

Companies working on A.R. enabled books that better explain the content and are more engaging, V.R. based simulations of various processes will see mass adoption in the coming times.

 

Personalization will become more of a need than a nice to have

The nature of work as well as what we study are becoming dynamic in nature. Students in the same class might want to learn different topics from each other or at least would like to learn one topic more deeply than the other. Same course content, curriculum to serve hundreds of students at the same time may not work at all in the near future making way for personalized solutions for students.

Opportunity –

One clear opportunity in this space is adaptive learning. Startups that create systems with their own content that adapt to a learner’s needs or simply integrate with existing systems to make them more adaptive can expect positive response from the market in the coming days.

 

Artificial Intelligence and big data are going to influence the future classrooms in a big way

AI systems and big data are already influencing our day to day lives and the decisions we take. The foreseeable future of education is not without systems where AI is not integrated.

Opportunities –

Opportunities exist both on the macro (ex – finding why a course sees decline in engagement after a certain time) and micro level (ex – intelligent bots that interact with students to increase engagement or assess their performance) with regards to AI and big data in the education field.

future of higher education and opportunities

Overall, the EdTech industry is booming and is witnessing a huge amount fresh entrepreneurs with great interest in the field. The question to be asked is whether these entrepreneurs will be able to serve the market well and continue to innovate at the rapid pace at which education sector is moving. Those who will be able to do so will definitely emerge as the winners.

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Editorial

Hiring From Colleges | Things to know and Learn before the Process

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Hiring a good candidate is an all-time concern for companies. Companies summon all their optimism when it comes to hiring, hoping that the talent they hire turns out to be good. While it’s not wrong to talk about how poorly our education system is structured to shape our students in terms of job readiness, in the end, it’s our job to navigate through these challenges and hire the best. From getting to know candidates and their experience to measuring knowledge, skills, aptitude and behaviors, the task list when it comes to hiring the right talent is exhaustive. But that task list becomes even bigger when it comes to hiring from colleges.

After having worked with multiple recruiters and student bodies, here are a few insights you can benefit from when it comes to hiring from colleges: –

Hiring

Image Source:media.licdn

Bulk Hiring from colleges: –

Aptitude based hiring with support from assessment companies can be your savior with regards to bulk hiring.

Whenever you plan to bulk hire freshers, one pragmatic expectation you should keep in mind is that nobody will start producing results from day 1. Also, you might have a certain set of requirements for the positions you aim to fill and properly testing each candidate for that is nearly impossible. In such a case, you must optimize your hiring process in a way that allows you to precisely measure things like aptitude, I.Q. etc. Properly measuring these allows you to hire people who might not be ready for the job from day 1, but at least have better capabilities than others to learn.

You can partner with companies which provide ready-made assessments like Aspiringminds, Elitmus and many more. Or you can get in touch with companies which provides assessment platforms where you can put your question and share the exams with students like Wheebox.

While many of these practices are already in practice, one of the best ways to hire freshers in bulk, I believe, is the one mentioned below: –

  1. List down your requirements or skills required
  2. Create a curriculum for the subjects (as per your organization’s requirements)
  3. Tie up with the university to embed the curriculum in their university curriculum as compulsory or optional as per their protocol
  4. Colleges will train the students as per your curriculum and make the students job ready as per your requirements

What After College is working towards such initiatives enabling companies and educational institutes to work out such collaborations.

 

Image Source: silicon.co.uk

Skills based hiring:-

The nature of work is changing, job roles are dynamic in nature, unfortunately curriculum are not hence grades and marks fail to be a good representation of a student’s readiness for job and skills. If you truly want to hire good talent, go beyond grades and start looking at skills a student possesses. Think about whether the student has the skills required for the job and bring him/her on board, being able to do this without getting influenced by a student’s academic performance is the key challenge recruiters need to overcome.

One of the best ways for skill based hiring is the following :

  • Organize hackathons in colleges, design the problem statement as per the organisation’s requirement.
  • Share the problem statement with the college students and give an overview of the problem statements.
  • Assess the student as per the performance of the student in the hackathon.
  • Hire the student as per your requirement

Hackathons have been common in the software domain. Many companies such as HackerRank, HackerEarth already enable brands to do the same online. This competitive format and its variations are also viable in sales, marketing, finance and other engineering domains too. What After College as a company have been working with institutions for a long time now in terms of enhancing the skills of their students and with a decade long experience of doing so, one thing I can say for sure is that skill based hiring works.

 

Image source:careermanch

Internship – Pre Placement Offer

I always believe that giving PPO’s to interns, who did well in their tenure and/or show promise is always a good investment. Because within their internship period, my company gets to know them and test them within different scenarios and also the candidates get to know about our company and its culture. And all this happens over a small amount of stipend or in some cases not even that. Instead if I hire someone full-time in my company, no doubt I get the chance to test him/her too but in exchange for one handsome package.

 

Image source: glints.sg

College Based Start-up Acquisition

Nowadays college based start-ups are doing so well. And these guys get so much exposure on their own about different job profiles in their early ages. Trust me, investing in these guys won’t be a loss to your company in any ways. They have all that you need; different skills, leadership qualities, risk management, decision making power, professionalism.

You can hire them directly in your company according to your required work and profiles or if their start-up is similar with the profile of your company then acquiring their working start-up can be a good investment again.

 

Image source: cbsdallas.wordpress

Hire immediately after school

Hiring candidates directly after their schooling can be a good experiment for your company although training them can be a tough job for your organization. But there are smart ways of pulling this strategy off that can ensure higher ROI then your current training and hiring methods.

With distance learning becoming huge in terms of demand, I suggest organizations to hire students directly after schools and train them as per their requirement. Here is my suggestion for the organizations:

Reports says that students after higher education are unemployable despite students paying huge college fees. The curriculum at universities isn’t well aligned with what organisations want either.

As a result, organization should hire the students after school by assessing them on the basis of aptitude and get associated with a university for providing accredited distance learning degrees to these students.

They should open a small college in their premises or tie up with a college for the same, train the students and also utilize them for the jobs at their organisation.

It is a win win situation for both students and organization where students don’t need to pay any fees to the organization for training and company get the employee with minimal compensation.

Synergies can be explored between colleges and companies to come up with innovative use case. Honestly, when it comes to hiring college students, we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be achieved.

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Editorial

Survive layoffs – How to survive the layoffs in the I.T. industry

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survive layoffs

Given the layoffs in IT industry, it’s important to keep in mind  and understand skills that are becoming outdated and being replaced by new skills which are highly in-demand.

Jobs in fields such as manual testing, tech support, system administration have become outdated and are being effected by the developments in the field of A.I, machine learning, automation and robotics process automation based systems.

Moreover, with newer developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation and cloud computing, which help complete the job with less manpower, software companies are now having to reconsider their strategies.

Furthermore many software developers are at the verge of losing their jobs as they fail to upgrade their knowledge to newer technologies. With AI based platforms that automatically make your website come into existence, web designers are going to get hit hard. Many other programmers might feel the heat too from these automated development platforms.

Job Cutting

However, there is surge in demand for latest and innovative technologies like data science, artificial intelligence, hardware product programming, machine learning and digital marketing. These are the fields where demand is higher than supply and hence people with these skills can get a premium on their salaries.

In fact, some of the sources that provide good skill based courses along with their fees are as follows : –

▪ Training + Certification (Around 35000 to 45000)
▪ Training at free or nominal pricing, Certificate at around $350 from renowned university
▪ Universities and offline training institute are also offering these courses

At this point, you must be thinking about the R.O.I of these courses.

Job cuts in Indian I.T. companies will be 1.75 -2 lakh per year in next 3 years, due to under- preparedness in adapting newer technologies hence it is better to invest money right now and be prepared for the future jobs, rather than thinking of R.O.I of the certification program. Although, as mentioned, due to lack of skilled individuals, people equipped with these skills can charge a premium in terms of salary.

Furthermore, in my opinion, one must have the 3 Cs to sustain in the uncertain Job Scenarios :-

▪ Complex Problem Solving Skills which involves computational thinking and solving real time problem
▪ Creativity & Innovation
▪ Critical thinking

If you are in the I.T. industry,  get started in new domains which can lead to employability. Furthermore, just knowing the basics isn’t going to cut it. People need to establish themselves as authority in their chosen field and have expertise in it.

Trump IT Layoff in India

Furthermore, the Trump administration has been cited as one of the major reasons behind the layoffs. It won’t be right to blame Trump, for he has fulfilled the election promise of giving jobs to local people including IT professionals by tightening H1-B visa norms, which were being misused by companies by paying less to foreign professionals working in US. It is for companies to tackle the situation, and such situation they have undergone in previous years. It is not new for them. They know to tide over it or at least this time, need to learn how to tackle such situations.

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Editorial

Why foreign universities cannot afford to miss Indian market

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Education businesses are always on a lookout for new opportunities to enroll quality students. Foreign universities hold many events and seminar for the same. Given the size of the Indian market, that is not enough.

India has one of the largest young population in the world. India will most likely be the largest economy and will be the most populous country by 2060. Many countries like U.K and the U.S.A are already deepening their network in India by opening up branches and providing certified courses.

The competition for the higher education market might seem huge to foreign universities given the fact that we have close to 38,000 colleges and 760 universities. Although the lure of quality education and certification from a foreign university among Indian students can help them win over local competition.

The market is open for foreign players because of the current challenges that the Indian higher education ecosystem faces. Centrally funded government universities are considered to be the best in India but the issue is that only 3% of students are enrolled in these universities. Rest go to the state funded universities or private/deemed universities. These 97% of students can be lured by foreign universities by providing differentiated values and quality that may not be found otherwise.

There are many reasons why foreign universities cannot afford to miss the India market and why this might be the best time to look at India as a market. One of them is the current government.

The current government is collaborative

Our current Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi is known for his collaborations with international institutions. The current government has done a lot for bringing foreign institutions to India and making the process of setting up business easy for foreign players. In fact, one of the biggest challenges that institutions face while setting up in international markets are the policies and regulations, with those things in place, there is no reason foreign universities should not come to India.

So how can foreign institutes tap the Indian market? Here are my few suggestions that can help out foreign institutions planning to setup business in India and enroll Indian students.

1. Open up Indian Campuses

While online courses might be the rage worldwide, Indians do prefer physical establishments. Having a physical establishment instills a sense of trust among students. The ideal way to go about it is setting up your campus in some good commercial area which can be used not just for counseling but also some small courses.

2. Bring scholarships to reach out to diverse Indian audience

India has abundance of good talent, but many time, talented students don’t have the financial backing to afford good education that would be able to make them unleash their talent to the fullest. In fact, middle class makes up for a good majority of the Indian population, a good scholarship can be a good way to tap into this scholarship – aspiring audience. Scholarships are a big deal for most of the Indian students and they generate a good word of mouth as well. This would also allow institutions to receive enrollments from a diverse bunch of students.

3. Establish qualifications that are recognized in both the countries

One of the biggest challenge students face while moving outside India for education is the recognition of their degree. The school and graduate level education in India follows a pattern different from outside countries. Often, talented students are not able to make it to international institutions because of these regulations. Mutually agreeing upon qualifications and degrees that are recognized in India as well as in the international country and can reap huge benefits for the international country.

4. Collaborate on key issues

India has a certain set of challenges where it could benefit greatly from academic and research work done by foreign institutions. Setting up research labs in India where foreign universities collaborate with the Indian ones to solve local issues would be a great step. This could be beneficial for both the institutions. If the aim is to drive enrollments at masters or PhD level, this method can be very useful.

But this is not all, creating student exchange programs, or summer schools can also create enthusiasm among students and lead to great word of mouth. Also, the old method of organising exhibitions and seminars is still effective today.

Given the numbers about Indian population and economic growth, India presents an opportunity for foreign universities that they should not miss.

Read more insights by me here.

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