upGrad looks to be lifelong learning partner for over 1 b working professionals worldwide: Ronnie Screwvala

Ayushi Kar Mumbai | Updated on July 26, 2021

Ronnie Screwvala, Co-Founder and Chairman, upGrad   -  Businessline

Education tech major upGrad has ambitions to become a lifelong learning partner for a population of over 1 billion working professionals worldwide.

“In a couple of years from now, we are looking to be a lifelong learning partner to a billion working professionals across the world. That is a massive market because that means we are tapping into 5 billion opportunities over the years of these professionals leveraging this platform to learn new skillsets,” Ronnie Screwvala, Co-Founder and Chairman, upGrad, told BusinessLine.

As part of its global ambitions, upGrad is focussing on the study abroad segment. Here, upGrad aims to significantly cut back on the costs of a foreign degree by offering to undertake the first two years of university online. Students will move to their campuses abroad to conclude their degrees with the study abroad experience. “We want to expand the Indian study abroad market, which comprises 300,000- 400,000 students to an almost 4 million student market, by cutting the cost of studying abroad by half,” said Screwvala.

At present, upGrad has the programme running at a nascent stage with partnerships with two universities, James Cook University, Brisbane Campus Australia and University of Applied Sciences Germany. However, Screwvala said there are plans of roping in Canadian and US universities as well.

Credibility of product

There has been a spate of ed-tech companies that have seen a galvanisation of growth, since the onset of the pandemic, to varying degrees of success. Therefore, while online education has become more accepted in society, establishing its credibility as well as convincing Indians to take up online education remains a struggle.

According to Screwvala, upGrad is especially emphasising on long-form immersive learning. “Our focus is on courses running for a span of 10 to 11 months to really establish the credibility of the quality of the product we offer. Our faculty comprises 70 per cent of members of the industry itself,” Screwvala said.

The first two years of product development have gone into ensuring that they can capture the feeling of university online. “It is not a mere Zoom call,” Screwvala said.

“There is a huge peer-to-peer learning platform, where we are trying to remove the anonymity of the student enrolled and maintain contact with the student to keep the engagement going so that students are less likely to drop out,” he continued.

Amidst the recent flurry of major startups listing for IPO, Screwvala dismissed speculations that his ed-tech major plans to follow suit. “Listing is an evolved process for which you need to show business stability, a critical mass of customers, and you need to be very clear regarding what your ambitions through listing are, otherwise there is no point,” said Screwvala. upGrad had recently raised $120 million from Singapore's sovereign fund Temasek in its first external fundraising.

Published on July 26, 2021

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