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Coursera’s rise in 12 months shows dramatic growth in India’s online education market

Online learning platform Coursera reported 49 per cent growth in students in India over the past 12 months, showing the country's booming demand for online higher education.  Overall course enrolments stood at 24.6 million as of the end of June, making India the country's second-largest market after the US.  Coursera also cooperates with 1,100 campuses across India co-creating courses for its students, accessing over 1.5 million learners as of June end, with 14.1 million course enrolments since January 2020.

Many of the most popular courses offered through the platform in India were related to computer science or IT, including ‘Programming for Everybody’ and ‘Python Data Structures’ from the University of Michigan, ‘Machine Learning’ from Stanford University, and ‘AI for Everyone’ from DeepLearning.AI.  Other popular courses included ‘English for Career Development’ from the University of Pennsylvania and ‘Financial Markets’ from Yale University.

The free online learning platform of the Indian Government called Swayam is also seeing massive jump in last two years as colleges are asked to impart education through the online mode.  The Indian regulatory body has revised the threshold of online education delivery by the Indian HEIs, increasing it to 40% and complete online delivery of degree courses by the top 100 Indian HEIs in the national institute raking framework for select subjects.

Beyond higher education Coursera also saw growth in its "Coursera for Business" arm and is working with eight State governments for its Workforce recovery offering.

British Council comments:

Online education is showing exponential growth in India.  The online higher education market alone, is expected to grow from 90 million individuals in FY20 to 133 million individuals by FY25 according to the Bengaluru-based market research firm RedSeer.  The paid users are expected to increase from 1.2 per cent to 8.1 per cent in the next five years.

From the UK perspective, HESA reported 3,200 students in India studying UK degree programmes online as of the 2019/20 academic year (not including students on traditional programmes forced online by the pandemic).  Although UK degrees delivered in India through distance learning are not officially recognised by Indian authorities, they are valued by many employers which means that graduates can find work in the private sector.

The number of Indian students following UK HE programmes through distance learning has increased by 56 per cent compared to five years earlier but still falls far behind the number of Indian students following in-person programmes in the UK.  Coursera's recent growth shows that there could be potential for UK universities to expand in this area.

If you have any questions, please write to Sandeepa Sahay (Regional Coordinator, South Asia Education Insight Hub)

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