In the latest Learn from India Showcase, Global EdTech innovation experts, Ravneet Pawha and Warwick Freeland, join David Linke to discuss cross-border partnerships, drivers of EdTech innovation, and improving student outcomes in the current and developing education environment.
David Linke, Managing Director at EduGrowth, brings together two EdTech thought leaders with lifelong experience in the Australian and Indian education sectors to discuss innovation, the growth of the EdTech ecosystem, and changes in education in recent and coming years. They are:
- Ravneet Pawha, Global Deputy Vice President and CEO (South Asia) at Deakin University and President of the Australia India Business Council
- Warwick Freeland, Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director IELTS for IDP Education
The highlights of their conversation and a full transcript follow below:
Technology driving innovation in education
In the 21st century, technology is one of the greatest drivers of innovation and expansion in education. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented acceleration in that sphere. Warwick explains that:
- The education industry has made approximately five years of progress over the past year due to changes caused by COVID-19.
- EdTech is specifically accelerating advances in testing, student recruitment, and student placement.
- Virtual events and virtual counselling are seeing explosive growth that will endure even after the pandemic has passed.
Despite the advances in online learning, there is still a strong demand for onshore and in-person learning. As the restrictions caused by COVID-19 start to ease, the education sector is likely to see a resurgence in face-to-face or hybrid learning. Despite that, micro-credentialing in particular may retain a large presence in the online space due to its nature and the type of students that it attracts.
“The whole nature of learning is changing now, whereas historically you’d do a degree or some qualification and then you’d work for the rest of your life. Now you actually end up doing a lot more micro-credentialing and micro-learning.”
Warwick Freeland, IDP Education
Embedding EdTech in the Indian Context
Warwick, with experience in the Australian, Indian, and global markets discusses the advantages of each, focusing on a comparison between the world’s two largest domestic education markets:
- China’s domestic market is the largest in the world, but products made in or for Chinese customers are often not viable on the global market.
- An exciting aspect of the Indian market is its large size, second only to China, and the viability of products developed there being marketable on a global scale.
Byju and Unacademy are examples of Indian EdTech companies that have started in India and spread globally.
“Part of the challenge for the Indians is that, while they’ve got a fantastic domestic market to target, they’ve also got to design products that will work in markets outside India as well.”
Warwick Freeland, IDP Education
India and Australia as Entry Markets
Warwick and David discuss the education and EdTech sectors in Australia and its particular advantages. They point out that:
- Australia makes for a very good entry market and testing ground for new products before they spread to the US, Canada, and Europe.
- India is also a good entry market due to its size and the openness of schools at all levels to accept and try new products.
Ravneet joins the discussion and adds that:
- The Indian government is supporting EdTech innovation by approving 40% of course curriculum to be delivered online.
- EdTechs targeting the Indian sector have a focus on affordability and scalability in order to address a very large domestic market. This translates well into moving into the global market.
- India has two markets: the massive student market and the rapidly growing upskilling market.
- EdTech is the solution for bridging divides between markets and cultures.
“I think the current and the future is going to be about a blended approach. I don’t think a 100 percent online approach will work. I do think that a blended approach will be what the future would hold.”
Ravneet Pawha, Deakin University
The future of education in India, Australia, and the world
From their experience in the global education market, Ravneet and Warwick discuss their thoughts on the future of the industry. Ravneet emphasises that many changes from the COVID-19 era will persist in the future:
- The hybrid or blended approach is being encouraged in India and will likely expand worldwide, especially for post-graduate and micro-credentialing programs.
- Online delivery of education makes it possible to tailor the education experience to the student’s particular needs. Courses of study will become more flexible.
- Once nations establish a robust online system, they will be able to absorb and adapt course programs from abroad to fit the needs of their domestic audience.
“Education where you want, when you want, in the style you want, in the modules that you want, is going to be where the future will be.”
Ravneet Pawha, Deakin University
Warwick discusses some of the practical challenges and steps that EdTech companies may encounter as they move forward from this year:
- Connecting large organizations like IDP and Deakin University to national programs and education providers is one challenge facing the globalization of education.
- EdTechs and education providers can learn from successful businesses, like Byju and Upgrad in India, to learn how to expand from their domestic market into a global one.
“At the end of the day it is the learner experience that we have to be very cautious about. Whatever you’re talking about, and if we can enrich the learner experience, and we can well price it, I think we have a winner.”
Ravneet Pawha, Deakin University
Now we’ve got an opportunity to meet with some people who have got cross-border education executive leadership experience. We’re going to meet Ravneet Pawha, who is currently the Global Deputy Vice Chancellor and CEO of South Asia at Deakin University and President of the Australia-India Business Council. Ravneet set up the Deakin University office in 1994, the first-ever international university offering office in India of any foreign education provider. Her awards include the prestigious Business Leader of the Year in India-Australia Business and Community Awards 2018, as well as the Exceptional Woman of Excellence award in the World Economic Forum 2019.
We’re also going to be joined by Warwick Freeland. Warwick is the Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of IELTS at IDP, which is an ASX-listed education provider. IDP is the world’s largest student placement business with offices in 30 countries including an incredibly large presence in India. IDP co-owns the IELTS English language test and runs the English language schools. Warwick is a Victorian ethnic expert with a strong understanding of the Indian ecosystem through IDP’s India office.
Warwick, maybe you can give us a bit of an introduction to IDP and the work that you guys do, and then we’ll talk a little bit about your role.
The IDP has had a long history since 1995 in India, and so it’s been a fantastic story for the organisation. It’s grown from virtually nothing up to approximately 2,000 staff based in India now. It really is an engine of our company’s success, and from a technology perspective when I joined IDP about 13 years ago, we had two people providing technology support in India. Now we have a hub with some 500 people based there. So as you explained, David, we’re a large student placement organisation. We also run IELTS globally around the world in well over a thousand locations in some 55 countries. We’re connected to approximately 1,000 universities around the world and so we’re going to look at a large digital presence. We probably have 100 million visits to our websites every year. India is a very important part of IDP and an important part of our success.
Australian universities were heavily involved in the establishment of IDP, right?
That’s right. Go back 50-something years ago, it was all Australian universities. It’s then been through a bit of a journey where an organisation called SeekBoard, half of it, but still the universities involved and currently on the Australian stock exchange. We’ve got a valuation in Australian dollars of about five-billion dollars, and Australia’s universities don’t have. So they’ve done pretty well.
It’s been a fantastic partnership, which is a great thing to talk about. Partnership between education providers and tech companies.
Let’s turn our attention to thinking about using technology to drive innovation. IDP is a fantastic case study of that. That’s a great case study of being able to digitise and do all sorts of things. Obviously it started in pen-and-paper, and you guys have been building some digital tools recently as well. What are the innovations you’re seeing around English Language Learning and English Language Acquisition?
It’s a really dynamic space. One thing that’s clear from a COVID environment is that a lot of things that I would have guessed would happen in about five years time have actually come forward. So that actually provides enormous opportunities for the EdTech sector to participate in new ways that they never could before. We’re seeing lots of advances that are impacting English language testing in the future, but also the whole industry that we occupy in terms of the student recruitment or student placement industry, where the use of virtual events, virtual counselling, and all sorts of other virtual services, which is really where EdTech has a strong place to play, because you don’t need that physical footprint which is traditionally what a lot of businesses have lived on. You can actually participate in a different way.
So through our digital campuses, as I mentioned, there’s about 500 people we have developing software and websites, doing testing and customer care. In India, we have 500 people based in Chennai. So it’s just a fantastic story. We go to India because of the talent that’s there, and that’s a key driver behind it. It’s a great talent market. It’s also a great market to operate in. But it’s also a way for us to link to other organisations because, whether it’s EdTech, in Australia, or EdTech in India, we’re keen to understand what people are doing. There’s potential and opportunity for them to join into these digital platforms that we’re building.
We’ll come back and talk about your presence in India in a lot more detail in a second. I want to just stay with thinking about the student experience, and think a little bit about the innovation that you’re seeing. What sort of opportunities are created for students? We’re talking about students right now who have spent the last 12 to 18 months working in online space. I’m wondering what opportunities you’re seeing around technical innovation and what opportunities it’s creating.
If you look at students, there are people I can put in two buckets. You’ve got domestic students and you’ve got international students. IDP’s focus is particularly on international students and there’s a bit of a difference in what the opportunities are. So for EdTech companies that focused on domestic, the opportunity for short courses, whether there’s been an explosion of interest in MOOCs and OPMs and those sorts of ways of teaching, and then for international students they’ve got this challenge now where you know some of them have been studying effectively online for some 12 to 18 months. So the way that they bridge that challenge is that their desire to actually connect to the institutions onshore, that’s still part of the journey that they like. It’s different from country to country. I have my Australia hat on. Australia’s been quite close, but it’s interesting that other countries actually have been quite open. Therefore the opportunities for companies to look at what the needs are for an Australia-bound student, versus a Canada-bound student, versus a UK-bound student are actually quite different now, whereas they always used to be kind of the same. In the US now, too, with a different president that exists there now, the opportunities exist there as well. I think there’s opportunities both at the client and the candidate end, and that’s going to straddle both of those areas.
There’s absolutely no doubt that there’s some real opportunity to create some efficiencies in those processes. If we think about this idea in education, of being able to move people from place to place, and being be able to help them, obviously, technology can mean that students don’t necessarily need to have that mobility. What’s IDP’s thinking around that?
There’s two aspects to that. There is still a very large proportion of students that actually want that face-to-face experience. They’re a bit frustrated at the moment because they haven’t been able to go on that journey but the whole nature of learning is changing now, whereas historically you’d do a degree or some qualification and then you’d work for the rest of your life. It’s changing now, where you actually end up doing a lot more micro-credentialing and micro-learning, and so therefore that’s an opportunity for IDP in the future to actually think about, “How do we participate not only in the full courses but also in the short courses as well?”
Let’s think about the value proposition from Indian EdTech entrepreneurs, thinking about the Australian context. I’m wondering whether you can comment because I know you said IDP has 500 developers in India. I’m interested in your view around why you’re based there. What are the things that you’re seeing? How are you seeing India as a place of innovation?
It all starts with the talent. India has a very good educational system to train fantastic people, and the work ethic and everything is fabulous. We have a very, very successful enterprise that’s based there. We’ve only had it at that scale for probably about a year-and-a-half now, but we invested to have a proper campus-type facility, and so that’s the environment that we want. But there’s no doubt that the benefits that India has are very significant because it’s a very large domestic market that Indian EdTech companies can connect to.
But then they’ve got this kind of nexus about how they consider to go additionally outside of India as well, and I’ve talked in the past that there’s quite a difference between China and India. They are the two most exciting countries in the world, whereas there is a very different dynamic that occurs there. In China now, you’ve got a market where typically Chinese companies don’t actually operate outside China. The market’s so big that they’re quite inwardly focused and they develop products and services that are very much focused on the Chinese student, and therefore a lot of them aren’t scalable businesses outside of China. So I think part of the challenge for the Indians is that, while they’ve got a fantastic domestic market to target, they’ve also got to design products that will work in markets outside India as well.
If I could pick any country in the world to to actually be connected to from an EdTech perspective, I think India would be number one.
There’s absolutely no doubt we’re going to be hearing later in this India Innovation Exchange. We’re going to be hearing from Josh Nester at Seek, who you mentioned before. In fact I was doing a prep call with him a couple of days ago and he was talking also about the opportunity, and comparing India and China. So coming back to the idea of being based there, I think you mentioned that you’ve got great, capable people coming out of there. Are you starting to see solutions that are of interest to you? Are you starting to see products coming from India that you’re thinking, “This is interesting?” or resources and support services?
I think we’re looking forward to seeing more of that. We’ve been pretty inwardly focused in terms of providing capabilities for our own organisation, and it’s been a great engine for that. We’ve needed that to run virtual events and virtual counselling. All of our staff in our student placement offices in India at the moment are working from home. We’re very conscious of the challenges that they have. But just to be able to do that, we’ve run hundreds of events for institutions virtually. Without our Indian hub, we would not have been able to do that. It’s been a great enabler for us but we’re very interested in effectively the ecosystem that exists around what we do. I think areas that we’re interested in are career direction, any sort of EdTech or apps that are connected to the career that a student might want to go on, there’s something we’d love to bolt on to the side of what we do.
Students have particular travel needs, accommodation needs, and lots of things. If they’re on an international journey we’re interested in that. The other area is actually in the English Language Learning side of things because of our IELTS business. It’s a very large-scale business. We have very huge points of presence around the world, and so therefore anything connected with preparation for English Language Learning or other forms of online learning in that area is of high interest to us.
Fair enough. If we think about India for a moment, one of the things that’s really interesting is, we’ve just met four of these four four Indian EdTech companies and I experienced this when I went to Bangalore in Delhi in 2018 and 2019. The thing that was really interesting to me was that their solutions were fully-formed. They were doing some really high-tech things, so I’m wondering whether or not you wanted to comment on the some of the solutions that you’re seeing out of India.
There are already companies that are just world-class, that are there, and any EdTech up and in any high-tech, high-growth area where you’ve got companies that actually are already at a significant scale. So Byju as an example, where it’s just fascinating, that obviously got tremendous capitalisation. It’s an organisation that just raised more capital, and they’ve actually an estate admission now of actually embarking on the world. In April they announced that they had provided their tutoring service on a global scale. So that’s an example of an Indian EdTech business that’s actually actually breaking out of the limitations of India to go further to the world and so incredibly successful. It is very good at that tutoring sort of industry, and they’ve supported companies around the world from a back office perspective. But also Byju is actually going on the front foot and actually is providing that as a primary service. Other organisations there, the large ones like Unacademy as well. There are some very big name brands that exist over there.
Emeritus is a fantastic example of an Indian EdTech company that is taking on the world in really different ways, and Byju is a great example which you mentioned.
If you think about the Australian market, and we think about Indian EdTech entrepreneurs providing resources into this, I’m wondering whether you want to think about Victoria as a refinement market and how we can use our time zone as an advantage for Indian tech companies making a step into other markets.
I’ll be honest, that as a logic has been around for a very long time. I’ve been around for a while now. I’ve been through the computer era, the electronics era, the automation era, the mobile phone era, and it’s interesting in all of those areas, and EdTech is no different, actually Australia has, and Victoria has, been a very attractive place to actually do proof cases for enterprises. I think that’s something that Indian tech businesses would have to experience because it’s just that the market in India is very different. In the China example I gave to other markets, and therefore you’ve got to find a market that actually is similar to the US, and Canada, and other places, and the UK which are actually great markets. But you know for a business to just kind of step into the US, and I mean we’ve been to the ASU GSP in San Diego where you’ve got businesses there that are sprucing themselves up, and I think the next one of those is in August. I wish I could go. But to tackle the US as your first entry market, I just think is overly ambitious. To actually use Australia as a test case and to learn how to adapt products to suit a particular educational system, that’s pretty common. In a lot of those markets it would make Victoria very, very attractive, and you just need to look at other organisations like McDonald’s that have typically used Australia as the test bed for everything from McCafe to anything else that they launched because they know, “Let’s try it there. If we can make it a success in Australia then chances are it’s probably going to work in the US and other markets.” at a lower cost than trying to penetrate the US, which is just such a beast that you kind of almost don’t know where to go, but also the best market in the world to go to when you eventually are ready for it, but you’ve got to be careful to blow a lot of money if you want to go in that direction. So I think Victoria would be a great place to test and refine EdTech concepts.
I think that’s a really good point, and that is I think if we just pause for a minute and think about the refinement, and you make a really valid point and that is, the reality is, if you’re an Indian EdTech entrepreneur and you’re going to start beginning your export market, there is a fantastic opportunity in this space to be able to come to Australia. You can refine your product here because, let’s just do some little statistics for EdTech entrepreneurs that are joining us from India today, 40 universities. They’re all really big customers. They’ll test your product. They’ll make it work. The school system has these fantastic opportunities to be able to scale to deploy your product into large suburban schools, into big regional schools, and in the smallest rural school. So if you can deploy to that network, you can deploy to anywhere. It’s a great opportunity to set up here. You can test your positioning. You can test how you go to market. You can refine your business. Then go to market model and there’s great support services as well.
Warwick and I have just been talking about Indian companies setting up in Victoria and going offshore, and now this is a perfect opportunity to say, “Wait a sec. We can also help going back the other way.”
I think that the interesting story with Nasscom is, I mean it’s not a very old story, just started I would say a couple of months back, and we started thinking about how do we go forward where we can offer some of our programs on to the Indian corporate sector from a b2b and a b2c perspective. So we got approached and discussed it with Nasscom, and it worked out. So we now currently are the largest provider from a university perspective, including all Indian universities as well for Nasscom to provide short courses. As we speak, we have more than 3,000 enrolments.
So this is the Deakin curriculum being delivered on an Indian learning management system at Nasscom, right?
That’s right. Deakin curriculum through Deakin call being delivered on Nasscom platform, which is an Indian platform and has access to the b2b and b2c platforms with about 13,000 enrolments already taken up.
Thinking about the capabilities of the Indian market that you see, you sit in a unique place right now. You’re based in India, you’re working with an incredibly large, well-respected university, so I’m interested in what you’re seeing in the Indian market. The Australian education providers to think about.
I would say that the Indian EdTech space is at a threshold of revolution, almost a strong revolution because the pandemic has forced us to do that at the moment. Even the UGC requirements today, which is the University Grant Commission, approved that all 40% of the curriculum everywhere can be taught online. This is a very first of its kind for India, and I think that this is a game changer for the education sector and the EdTech sector, both domestically and internationally. So Indian companies are really looking to be innovative. They are looking at scalability. They are looking at solutions, and what would be really interesting would be to see models of engagement with Australian providers. I think that India is a great tech hub, but it does need a highly sophisticated end-to-end solution offer, which I think can be in collaboration with the Australian EdTech companies.
Currently there are about 435 new EdTech startups that have started in the last 24 months alone in India, and that’s the kind of space you are looking at. The KPMG report actually tells us that the industry value in 2021 will be close to two billion US dollars of the EdTech sector. It’s a huge sector, and because of the sheer size of the market. And models that are scalable, well-priced, tech-savvy, and catering to the needs of the Indian or the international market, I think it’s a sweet spot for EdTech companies to come together both from Australia and India.
The University Grant Commission has now said that 40% of instruction can be online, which is a change in India. Are you seeing that in other markets, Warwick? Are you seeing that the pandemic has driven digital transformation that you hadn’t seen before?
There’s no doubt. I think things have been brought forward five years. The pandemic has created a really interesting dynamic, but I think people still like face-to-face learning because it’s more of a bonding experience. But you can’t do it at the moment. There’s no doubt that this has been a change in the way people are learning. It’s now a Zoom generation, whether we thought there would be or not, but people are absolutely used to learning in that way now. It’s inevitable that things are going to keep progressing, in particular that micro-credentialing area that’s just going to be the standard way of doing things. I think that’s a very explosive area, and for that upskilling in their careers and jobs, in an organisation like IDP, there’s an expectation that you continue to learn, and so therefore the way to do it will be online. You’ll be expected to do a course a year or whatever it is, because the things are changing so quickly you have to be doing it. I think online education in that sector will just increase.
I think the current and the future is going to be about a blended approach. I don’t think a 100 percent online approach will work. I do think that a blended approach will be what the future would hold. Currently, maybe because of the pandemic situation, it has to be completely online. But five years down the line, or even three years down the line, I think universities and education sectors across the world would need to come up with models of engagement with the right pedagogy, the teaching practices focusing on the digitisation process. But at the same time, making sure that the user experience is world-class. I think teamwork by teachers and the techie members from both sides to be working together is going to be where the future will lie. For institutions, I think a business model of high-value content delivered with the right technology and in real time is going to be the essence. Education where you want, when you want, in the style you want, in the modules that you want, is going to be where the future will be.
Coming back to the point that Warwick was making before, you’re right. There’s going to be a desire to have some face-to-face. It was a really interesting statistic that I saw from Professor Shirley Alexander from UTS a few months ago. She did a presentation with us focused on China, and she shared some data about student engagement, and the lecture even online had dropped. The participation face-to-face over the last years has been dropping. But online it’s dropped to almost non-existent, where workshops, and seminars, and practicals, and things like that have really increased in participation, both online and face-to-face.
I think you’re seeing that there will be some new engagement models. One of the things that’s interesting about Indian EdTech companies for non-Indian education providers is that Indian EdTech companies have to have robust technology, scalability, and deliverability because they’re delivering to incredibly large numbers. Did you want to comment on that?
I think that Indian numbers are always out of context when you’re looking at the Australian context. But having said that, because I sit between the two, I have to get my head in the right space. I’m talking numbers on both ends of the world. Having said that, I’ve been a part of some of the Indian EdTech companies’ journeys. Let me give you an example of Upgrad. Upgrad is a company that we started talking to way before the pandemic, and we launched the program before the pandemic knowing that this is going to be where the future is in terms of how we get together on a large-scale platform at a reasonably low cost course, but with high value. We picked up the market, and so, clearly, David, there are two markets in India. One is the student market, which is a huge number. I think it’s millions of students that one can reach out to. There are 200,000 schools, 35,000 colleges, and 700 universities in India. That’s the kind of scale you’re looking at when you start thinking about EdTech solutions. The other big market in India is the scaling-up market, the upskilling market where people are looking at international qualifications on EdTech platforms from the best of the best in the world, delivered online and in a hybrid, maybe with an Indian partner in real-time with support in India. That’s what Upgrad does. So even that initiative of Deakin University with Upgrad has been extremely successful.
Today as we speak, we have close to a thousand students in the pipeline looking at our Upgrad MBA Global Program with Deakin. Upgrad is a pop-up program using an Indian platform and Indian support system. But the curriculum, and the structure, and the framework are a Deakin framework, and Deakin University actually awards the degree in the end. I think it’s a combination of things like this that see the future in times to come.
What I’m really interested in as well, Warwick, if you think about deploying technology or using technology to drive some innovation, you’ve currently got a whole bunch of developers in India. Are they developing for the Indian market? Are they developing for your global operations?
There’s no doubt that the Indian market is a very important market. That makes it so it’s a fantastic place for people to be based, and to be targeting, because for us it is a very big part of our economic engine that exists. That’s important. But they’re absolutely developing our global systems, whether it be for virtual counselling or virtual events, or other forms like that because tech is just so important. We basically consider ourselves a software company now, which is quite a transition for an organisation. It’s just that things moved so fast as a kind of a slide example to one side, like the Canadian government introduced a change to their visa bill and then somebody changed their visa program about three or four weeks ago, which nobody expected. That increased traffic to our website by 100 percent compared to normal traffic. That happens so quickly. If you’re not operating in that digital environment, you couldn’t cope. Normal systems could not cope with dealing with that amount of people, a hundred thousand people that want to react with you and interact with you.
As just a fun little anecdote that you could use out of interest is that we provide a mapping function on our website because people want to know, for example, where they want to take a test. For a great consumer feature you provide a map, of course. You provide a map so people can see it. Our bill for one day for Google Maps was twelve thousand dollars.
You’ve got to be careful if you put a map on your website. API calls. It’s amazing the cost of these things at the moment. These things are happening really quickly. 100-fold traffic is not what you expect, but anyway a nice surprise.
I wanted to really focus on two things as we finished. Firstly I wanted to think a little bit about deploying education technology products in an Australian context and in an Indian context, and what are the things that we need to think about. The majority of the audience today are Indian EdTech entrepreneurs and Australian educators. What are the things do you think, Ravneet, you’ve been straddling both of these markets for a while. What are the things that you might give as a suggestion or a point of information for Indian EdTech companies thinking about trying to deploy to a large university like Deakin University?
I think the first thing I’d like to say is that you’ve really got to find the sweet spot because if I take the example of Deakin University, the reason why we wanted to establish a strong partnership in India in the EdTech space is because we see the future of our internationalisation with India. We believe that it has to be with an Indian platform in real time, so the service that you provide to an international organisation has to be in real time in the Indian context with of course substantial support from Deakin University, and Deakin systems, and Deakin pedagogy, and Deakin procedures. But frankly, David, if you actually start thinking about providing a service from Australia to India at the scale that it needs, at the price point that it needs, it’s not going to work.
The sweet spot is that Australian pedagogy, maybe international pedagogy, international systems but adapted to the Indian context on an Indian platform which can be jointly nurtured, delivered, and supported. I think that is where the real opportunity is, and it’s not just for the student market. It is also for the corporate sector. It is also for the upskilling market, which is a huge market in India as we speak. I think technology is the enabler here. It’s bringing the mindsets together and offering that solution.
Did you want to add something there as well, Warwick, around deployment and some of the things that you’re seeing.
One of the challenges for those organisations is to find the right way to link to other organisations as well. Because of that, the opportunities that exist, and you’ve got organisations like Deakin that are very large, and you’ve got IDP that is also very large as well. I think part of the challenge is for them to work out how they connect to those sorts of organisations. I don’t have a magic answer there, but I think that’s probably one of the roles for EduGrowth and similar organisations. I’ve been invited to a forum in India, but I think that’s the tricky part for these antique entrepreneurs in India, is to try to find how do you find that connection point?
It’s similar to EdTech companies in Australia too, being able to find those things. EduGrowth global Victorian, India’s didactic association are great points of beginning. What I will say for those Indian entrepreneurs that are with us: the one thing that you need to be incredibly careful of when thinking about deploying to Australia is, you’ll get an opportunity to meet with some legal people, and some accounting people who will give you some structure in that data security is incredibly important, that data privacy is incredibly important. But the biggest one that I want to give you without all of that regulatory piece, which we’ll do later in this program in a couple of weeks time, is it’s really about the size of the market. Remember as Ravneet pointed out before, the size of the Indian market in Australia, we are talking about 40 universities, 60 or 70 TAFE institutions, a thousand registered training organisations, nine thousand schools, so it’s very quickly that you can burn the market if you don’t approach it in a sophisticated way.
Be very careful about how you enter the market. What I mean by that is be conscious of the cultural differences between India and Australia, and the way that we do business. Specifically, remember that it’s a very small market, so if you burn through it by potentially alienating a number of universities then that may cut you out of the market. Also in the university space, specifically, the people that you want to speak to, they all know everyone else in that sector. So they are going to have reference calls to each other. Just be conscious of that. That leads us to that.
David, that when we started with Upgrad I must have had about 20 calls from various universities to talk about what the model is.
That’s just how this market works. There’s 40 universities, there’s 40 Deputy Vice Chancellors of Education. You’re like, this is simple, and they’ve all worked with each other, been at symposia together, written research papers together, so you’ve got to be really careful. You’ve got to make sure that you and I think.
One professional thought I’d like to leave people thinking is that at the end of the day it is the learner experience that we have to be very cautious about. Whatever you’re talking about, and if we can enrich the learner experience, and we can well price it, I think we have a winner.
If we go back to our topic, which was partnerships to drive cross-border innovation, what is the biggest opportunity you’re seeing from the Indian internet market from your seat? Warwick, do you want to begin by giving us a bit of an idea what do you think is the biggest opportunity you’re seeing out of India?
We are interested in things that are rich for our business, assisting from generic interests. There’s no doubt things that are connected to English Language Learning is something that we have a continuing interest in because of our IELTS business. Things that are basically services to aid international students on their journey and their career path, things connected to that. We will be happy to have a look. To me, they’re the ones that we would be interested in. But in terms of global scale, areas like tutoring, I think India does fantastically well. Byju is a great example of that, and I think that it’s the world’s capital for tutoring. So businesses like that would only be successful particularly if they can find particular niches to support the market there.
But I think there’s lots of opportunities, and just as a throwaway as well, David, we’ve got the AIEC which is the Australian International Education Conference, which is a higher ed focused conference that occurs once a year. It’ll be on again in October, and then October the next year, etc. Maybe that’s something that the Indian EdTech companies might consider. I know EduGrowth has participated in the past, but that’s a great way to get instant exposure to the entire industry in one fell swoop. I would throw that out there as an opportunity for them in the future.
Ravneet, what about you? What do you see is the biggest opportunity for Indian tech companies in the Victorian context?
Considering that India is at its threshold, given the use of technology, given the changes in the policy, given the National Education Policy, so I think that there is opportunity in both the education program space to connect with Indian partners and see where we can go with that. There’s also enough opportunity in the skilling space at the student level because India really does need to upskill the student community, both from a technical, as well as a human-centric skill perspective. I think there’s huge potential to do that. I think that the sweet spot is in collaborating with Indian providers. I really don’t have a very strong sense of being able to operate in silos. I think it’s about collaboration, and I think that an end-to-end solution going forward would be the way to go for both Indian as well as Australian providers.
Thank you both so very much for your participation today. It’s given us a great insight into some of the opportunities both here and in India for Australia for Victorian and Indian EdTech companies to connect.