Coursera doubled its annual India additions in a pandemic year

Bengaluru: Coursera Inc. doubled its India additions in 2020 as people stayed at home for work and study amid a raging global pandemic.

The US-based online education platform added 10.6 million learners from India last year, according to its Global Skills Report, 2021. That compares with the 5 million learners in 2019. “We are up over 100% from the previous year,” said CEO Jeff Maggioncalda.

The growth came because the Covid-19 pandemic made universities teach online, he said. “Two years ago, the Indian School of Business was the only Indian university that published on Coursera. Now, four more universities have joined,” Maggioncalda said.

Coursera is witnessing interest from elite Indian universities to publish online material on the platform. “There’s clearly a strong direction towards online learning that’s happening in India,” he said.

The government has also been encouraging online learning. “India has been putting more and more emphasis on access to high quality education. The government has been increasing the number of credits that can be earned online,” the Coursera CEO said.

At 34%, internet penetration in India is among the lowest in the world, according to Global Skills Report 2021. The emphasis on internet connectivity after the virus outbreak is higher than before.

“Governments are realising that the job opportunities that will be available for remote workers are going to be huge. So, even if you don’t move to Mumbai or Delhi and live in a rural area, you can work remotely so long as you have an internet connection,” said Maggioncalda. The internet is key to both learning and job opportunities, more so because of the pandemic, he added.

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More than half of Indian learners enrolled on Coursera are learning on mobile devices, the report stated. The top three courses that Indians signed up for were ‘Programming for Everybody’, ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘English for Career Development’.

The median enrolment age on the platform in India is 27.

“There are 190 countries on Coursera. The youngest country is Egypt, and the second youngest is India. So, India has the second youngest learners of any country in the world,” Maggioncalda said.

Coursera remains optimistic about the country. “A 100% growth is hard to do every single year. But the overall demand for online education will be higher than it was prior to the pandemic and that means there are going to be more opportunities and more growth,” he said.



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