Higher education firm upGrad goes bullish on small town India

As education goes remote in the pandemic, online higher-education company upGrad on Saturday said it is witnessing a great response from learners in the tier 2 and 3 cities and small towns in India and will seize the opportunity to take its cutting-edge technology education solutions via virtual classrooms deeper into the country.

upGrad, which offers more than 100 courses in collaboration with top-notch global/local universities like Deakin Business School (Australia), Duke CE (US), Michigan State University (US), Liverpool Business School (UK), IIT Madras (India), IIM Kozhikode (India) and others, has empowered over 10 lakh registered learners over 50 countries across the world.

“Beyond working professionals and lifelong learners, we are witnessing a great response across age groups in India from all corners of the country. The proportion of small-town India has increased significantly on our chart because pandemic has sent thousands of people home and they are joining online classes from their hometowns,” Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder and MD, upGrad, told IANS.

According to Kumar, the pandemic has brought in a tectonic shift in online education and higher education is witnessing a tremendous surge across the globe.

Co-founded by entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala, Kumar and Phalgun Kompalli in 2015, upGrad has achieved an annual revenue run rate (ARR) of $165 million and maintains a strong network of over 20 national and international universities.

What sets it apart from other online players is ‘deep personalisation’, where counsellors virtually handhold each learner for the entire duration of course.

Each student over a year goes through more than 50, one-on-one coaching sessions from their future hiring managers/business leaders and get personalised job recommendations based on their experience, aptitude and personal ambition.

As a result, the course completion rate is 80 per cent which is unprecedented in online education worldwide, according to the company.

“We are seeking collaborations with more Indian higher education institutes to widen our reach and benefit more and more learners in the country,” said Kumar, an IIT-Delhi alumnus who has over 10 years of experience in education as an investor and an advisor.

Earlier this week, upGrad announced to acquire video-enabled learning solutions provider Impartus, committing over Rs 150 crore towards the buyout as well as to boost its growth and cement its foothold in college education.

Impartus, now a 100 per cent subsidiary of upGrad, has been rebranded as ‘upGrad Campus’.

‘upGrad Campus’ will have two business verticals. While under B2C vertical, it will offer several job-oriented courses, under the B2B vertical, these offerings will be to HigherEd Institutions (HEI).

The move will enable upGrad to add 50,000 paid learners in the very first year of the acquisition, according to Kumar.

In the pandemic-hit 2020, more than 450 companies including ZS Associates, PayTM, Gartner, Flipkart (Walmart-acquired), Accenture and E&Y hired more than 1,200 learners from the upGrad talent pool.

In 2021 till March, jointly with the recruitment and staffing solutions firm Rekrut India which is now a 100 per cent subsidiary of upGrad, the company has enabled over 2,500 career transitions, with a highest salary hike of 400 per cent (a package of Rs 73 lakh per annum).

“We don’t offer short-term, one-month-odd courses. We offer extensive courses and extend solid knowledge that takes time and a lot of hours. We believe that the knowledge that we offer, our users can use it to his/her advantage in real life,” Kumar said.

( Originally published on May 29, 2021 )

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