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Reimagining Higher Education in the New Decade

By Vaibhav Gawde, Head-Solution Engineering, Oracle India—5 October, 2020

Technology adoption in education has scaled beyond expectations, especially in the last few months. The current situation has served as a catalyst, causing a huge jump in online learning in the previous quarter or two. A ResearchAndMarkets study indicates that the online education market in India could grow at a CAGR of ~43.85% to reach INR 360.3 billion by 2024. Additionally, the pressure is on educational institutions to deliver a better experience, with similar or lower budgets due to increased financial constraints.

Future-proofing Learning

Adapting to these changes is particularly important in India, which has a sizable young population, with 50 percent of its total being under 25 years. Indeed, some statistics show that India could account for 20 percent of the talent pool of G20 countries. It is therefore essential that we ensure that this large prospective workforce is equipped with the right skills.

This is no easy matter. The pandemic aside, the world is in the middle of a technological transformation dominated by artificial intelligence (AI), automation, the move to industry 4.0, and cybersecurity challenges. Many traditional institutes are struggling to provide effective vocational training for students to gear up for this world. For example, a NASSCOM study predicts a demand-supply gap of about 140K in the field of AI and big data/analytics by 2021.

To create a future-ready workforce, it’s critical for educational institutions to future-proof the entire learning journey for students - from class content and delivery, to providing access to advanced technologies via hands-on labs, mentorship from top technology minds, and close collaboration with corporates to keep the curriculum current, and ensure robust placement programs - amongst other things.

At Sharda University, a private university located in Greater Noida, students are offered a learning experience very different from what most of us would remember in the last decade. Using insights garnered from AI and machine learning (ML) based solutions, the university redesigned its teaching delivery and mentoring programmes, to bring about a 12 percent improvement in the annual student satisfaction ratio.

In addition, access to advanced analytics and ML capabilities via a secure, modern, second generation cloud infrastructure, allows students at Sharda to bring sophisticated analysis to their projects and solve real-world problems with a data-driven approach. Use of these very solutions also enable Sharda’s IT team to accurately track the success of these projects. In summary, the university is equipping students to succeed in a world where digital business is the norm.

While only a few higher educational institutions like Sharda have embraced advanced and emerging technologies, by and large, all universities have similar goals.

Three areas every educational institution is looking to transform with a cloud-led approach

  • Improving student outcomes: For educational institutions, ensuring students get the most from their enrolment is the key. This means making sure that most students successfully graduate, and guaranteeing maximum employability. By providing students with access to the latest technologies, modern devices, and enough opportunities to do hands-on projects that simulate the professional world, they are likely to be much more employable than the average student with just theoretical knowledge sans practical applicability.
  • Raising institutional standing: A strong cloud backbone is an important tool to run a robust research program, build quality and reputation, and create distinct market differentiation. Hence, for larger institutions, maintaining a good institutional ranking is a priority if they hope to recruit good students and faculty staff, as well as attract research grants. Adopting a cloud-first mind-set helps universities improve agility, fast-track innovation and experiment with new learning models, offering students a modern and immersive learning experience.
  • Increase operational efficiency: Achieving the above goals i.e. improved student outcomes and better institutional standing is only possible with a strong digital core that drives great efficiency and dynamism. For a university, this will also help simplify overall administration and unlock better fiscal prudence, by using an OPEX model for leveraging IT. Improved enrolment experience and better student success will also enhance the university’s academic sustainability in the long run.

BITS Pilani is a good example. For such institutions that have multiple campuses, integrating their complex, hybrid IT landscape through a cloud-based system enables smoother operations; allowing the institutions to focus more on core priorities.

By focusing on the above three areas, universities will be able to enrol top young minds, raise student-centric engagement, and concentrate on making them employable from day one. And a cloud-led foundation is crucial for universities to help create the digital workforce of tomorrow.

About Oracle

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