Published: 16th June 2020
upGrad forays into the undergraduate market with Jamia Hamdard University and also expanded its portfolio to offer Finance and Law with OP Jindal Global University
Phalgun Kompalli, Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar of upGrad
upGrad, one of India’s largest online higher education companies, entered the Bachelor’s degree market for the first time with the renowned Jamia Hamdard University by announcing their partnership with the institute on Tuesday. upGrad will be offering an online-offline blended BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) and BCA (Bachelor of Computer Application) degrees to school pass-outs. The subsequent Master’s for these programmes, MBA and MCA have been launched as well. The courses will typically be priced at Rs 40-50,000 annually.
upGrad, which will now become India’s only EdTech major to offer online degrees, with offline basecamps and live classes, also announced its partnership with O P Jindal Global University (JGU), for two Master’s programmes — a one-year LLM in Corporate and Financial Law and a two-year MBA in Digital Finance and Banking. These courses are majorly focused at working professionals and will be priced at about Rs 2-2.5 lakh per year.
Announcing the launch of these online degree courses, Ronnie Screwvala, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, upGrad said “The ongoing global crisis calls for evolution on a recurring basis, especially amid the online education space which seems to be the only way forward, owing to its robustness and accessibility. At upGrad, we bear testimony to constantly evolving with the changing paradigm, and to developing better and better learning solutions. Our degree portfolio will enable learners to continue with their academia, without having to think about the overall crisis that has taken a sharp toll on the offline education system.”
He also spoke about the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education, which has increased from 25.8 per cent in 2017-18 to 26.3 per cent in 2018-19, while in absolute terms the enrolment increased from 3.66 crores to 3.74 crore students, according to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE). “As the government plans to take this up a notch higher by aiming to gain 50 per cent GER by 2030, we want to contribute towards this growth. Online education is not essentially placing a camera in front of you, it’s much more than that — a lot of research, ability to update content, blending the online-offline modes of teaching comes into play as well. COVID-19 has brought about a sort of urgency, but we have been doing the actual homework on how offline-online can be blended together. The misconstrued notion that online learning is a substitute for distance has to go. We are trying to reimagine online education with live lectures, offline classes, engaging programmes like the degree courses we just launched,” adds Ronnie Screwvala.
Speaking about the USPs of the degree programmes being offered in partnership with the institutes, Mayank Kumar, Co-founder and MD at upGrad said that all the courses will have different outcomes. “The courses offered with OP Jindal Global University will focus more on job and career outcomes after the learners finish their online programmes. For the Jamia Hamdard courses, we are also providing a multitude of opportunities — guaranteed internships, entrepreneurial support and learners can also prepare for government test prep. In the future, we are planning to partner with 10 other institutes for various programmes that have more employability linkage,” he said.
Dr Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard asserted that online learning will become a norm and that it’s here to stay. “GER will go up to 80 per cent in the upcoming years because of online programmes, it has the ability to surprise us. Indians spend almost seven billion dollars to send their children abroad, most of them are ones who couldn’t get into IITs here or the other top universities. This is the reality and that is a challenge which will be beaten by the online system. This money can come back to the Indian education system and we could do so much more,” he said. The professor, however, added that he is worried about primary and secondary education as he feels that there’s not much of a digital divide in higher education. “But the online system will create a huge digital divide in primary and secondary sectors. However, the partner programmes with upGrad is a wonderful opportunity for us and a step in the right direction,” he added.
Speaking on how online platforms and institutes are trying to work towards curbing the digital divide, Dr C Raj Kumar, founding Vice-Chancellor, OP Jindal Global University, says, “We will face bigger challenges regarding this. I have been noticing that a part of the problem is looking at companies like upGrad to solve the problem, it’s a larger government and public policy issue. A tectonic shift happening in the mindset of government agencies but the situation is not going to change in the immediate future. Online education should be seen from the point where it can be more democratised. Our generation moved from landline telephones to mobile phones, we need public policy impetus to build strong IT infrastructure thus making online education easier — more internet bandwidth, lesser costs. Also, these online programmes save cost when compared to physical courses on campus. We have seen greater acceptability of online learning and this should give us remarkable outcomes.”
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