The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown from March 25 impacted businesses across the country. But the e-learning industry has been able to weather the storm by offering upskilling, certification and training programmes to those stuck at home.
The impact? Enrolments and revenue have seen a jump for these players. Industry sources said it is not just freshers and laid-off employees who are opting for these courses, but also salaried professionals who have some free time since they save on their daily travel time.
Take education-technology company Great Learning for instance. The firm saw a 150 percent year-on-year (YoY) rise in its revenue to Rs 325 crore in FY20.
The company attributes its rising growth to increasing demand for upskilling in digital competencies like data science, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, among others.
The company crossed 25,000 learners across its post graduate programmes in FY20. Great Learning said it has started FY21 with its learner base growing five times due to an increased interest from professionals and college graduates who had to stay at home.
Mohan Lakhamraju, Founder and CEO, Great Learning, said, “From working professionals to college students and even senior executives, we are witnessing a desire to keep pace with changing business and technology landscapes by upskilling themselves. We expect FY21 to be a turning point for online higher education in India.”
Other players offering online skilling programmes are seeing a similar growth.
Edtech major upGrad, India’s largest higher education provider, just moved their start dates for all their 40 courses to the beginning of every month instead of quarterly to take on the surge in demand from working professionals. This has more than doubled their course capacity, and each class now has a peak of 1,000 learners at any given time.
“Larger the online class, more active is the peer-to-peer learning. So, it’s the inverse of offline learning,” says Ronnie Screwvala, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, upGrad.
The edtech major saw a 72 percent growth in learners onboarded in April and had 500,000 learners. It aims to double its revenue by June.
In Q1 FY21, upGrad said its revenue will cross an annual run-rate of Rs 500 crore with the launch of their live learning platform free of cost to multiple colleges and universities.
e-learning platforms have also been able to onboard institutions like schools and colleges to help expand their revenue base. The e-learning segment in India is valued around Rs 4,500 crore right now.
For instance, e-learning platform Geneo saw a surge of five times. The online learning platform onboarded over 500 schools and over 100,000 learners since March. The firm said over 66,000 students registered for Geneo live classes.
Shourie Chatterji, Head – Digital Initiatives, Schoolnet India (Geneo is part of this entity), said 40- 50 percent registrations for live classes were from Tier II cities.
The opportunities arising out of the lockdown in this space is also pulling in new players. On July 16, Mumbai-based real estate consulting firm Sai Estate Consultants announced that actor Suniel Shetty has invested an undisclosed amount in its edtech venture Sai Estate Management & Skills Institute (SEMSI).
The company said SEMSI is estimated to be valued around $80 million. SEMSI's online platform aims to offer online courses and certifications in the areas of real estate, sales and marketing along with skill development programmes.
This edtech player is yet to launch its online platform. It aims to initially attract as many as one million active users after launching.
India's online education market is expected to touch $1.96 billion (approximately Rs 15,000 crore) by 2021, according to a KPMG report.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.