Anand Sudarshan, CEO, Manipal Education, avoids questions on the institute's planned initial public offering (IPO). But he is ready to discuss the education reforms India needs. Timely reforms, he feels, could have helped inclusivity and enabled the country produce more graduates. Excerpts from an interview with Praveen Bose.
What’s ailing the education sector at present?
The lack of education reforms in the country is very frustrating. Though it is one of the most regulated sector, there doesn’t seem to be much of an effort to improve the situation. These are all adding to difficulties for the education providers to keep up with their expansion plans and their ability to improve the quality of education provided. With the sector being a closed one, it is not possible to bring in the best aspect of education into the country without any reforms.
Has Manipal received any feelers from foreign varsities for collaborations?
We have been getting feelers from many universities, from across the world expressing their wish to tie-up with us to start campus here, or to start joint programmes. We have also been in talks with some Ivy League institutions. But, with no clarity with regards to government policies, not much has been happening.
Are there any dangers of poor quality institutions making their way in?
Market forces will take care of the quality. The people will not spare those that are not good enough or not up to the mark. They will be weeded out in no time.
How has Manipal increased its geographical spread?
We recently announced our plans to set up a university in Malaysia. Universities in Malaysia have about 50 per cent of their students from outside the country. People go to Malaysia for education today as there are top notch universities. We have also spread our wings to the America with a campus in the Caribbean. This is aimed to tap the expatriate Indian population in the US. Our most significant expansion is in Dubai where we have set up a 250,000 square feet campus, mostly made of expatriates in the Dubai Academic City. We have 1,600 students studying there from 20 countries.
How much of your revenues come from your campuses abroad?
About 60 per cent of our revenue comes from abroad.
Today, South East Asia contributes 35 per cent of the revenues, West Asia 30 per cent, 35 per cent comes from India and North America.
How has Manipal leveraged technology?
Manipal has been very tech savvy, even in delivery of its education programmes. We have invested Rs 30-35 crore in distance education which includes investments on hardware, software, SAP backend and CRM backend. We aim to use it in content sharing. There will be use of technology in pedagogy. It will also help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of education. If technology is content-specific, effectiveness will increase. But for such an elaborate system it could take four to five years before it begins to work well.