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Why traditional MBA colleges should embrace edtech

Why traditional MBA colleges should embrace edtech

Universities will continue to grow, but there's no doubt that edtech firms will grow faster. What remains to be seen is if edtech platforms will leave universities behind in their wake or if their rising tide will lift universities as well.

Illustration by Anirban Ghosh Illustration by Anirban Ghosh

With critical gaps in the traditional structures of management education which edtech platforms have identified and are addressing, embracing edtech may be a good idea even for premium institutions to expand domestically and build their brand in foreign markets.

"The days of elite management education are over. Access is more important; we should provide access at the right price and people are willing to pay. Scale is critical now; we can no longer be teaching just 100 people in a class. Technology will help us to scale and make a large impact," says R. Srinivasan, Professor of Strategy at IIMB. "We should use partnerships to build brands and leverage technology to reach new markets and scale." Already, India's premium institutes enjoy great brand recognition in many markets, including Africa, South Asia and the Middle-East. Edtech platforms offer the means to expand further.

On the flip side, edtech firms also open up the market to foreign universities. While not yet financially lucrative enough for the likes of a Wharton or an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to enter directly (online), India is also too critical a market for them to ignore. An easy way for them to tap India, then, is to provide their content to edtech platforms that repackage and sell it to Indian students. Such partnerships are quite unlikely to cannibalise their main offline courses.

"While we have a capacity constraint, foreign universities have geography and regulatory constraints. Edtech platforms take this away. They can enter remotely and offer their degrees at a relatively low cost, and even a hybrid experience in their institution. So, we are going to face a really big challenge," says P.D. Jose, Professor of Strategy and Former Chairperson of digital learning at IIM Bangalore (IIMB).

Of course, the allure of an on-campus MBA programme will not diminish anytime soon for reasons like the campus experience, world-class resources and faculty, the social milieu and network effect. Universities will continue to grow, but there's no doubt that edtech firms will grow faster. What remains to be seen is if edtech platforms will leave universities behind in their wake or if their rising tide will lift universities as well. That, as Jose points out, depends on one's outlook.

"We [usually] think great institutions are those that keep people out. I think great institutions get people in and skill them before they go out. It is time to relook at this very model itself."

 

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