Technology Is Pervading Every Aspect Of Our Working In Education Sector: Ajeenkya Patil
D Y Patil Group, one of the most respected groups in the education space, is a forward-looking group and is adapting fast with the changing times. It has major plans to launch an online platform which will offer not only traditional, but also new age courses on Artificial Intelligence(AI), Cloud Computing, Blockchain Technologies, and Aerospace Engineering amongst others.
The institute believes in democratizing education and hence plans to launch around 41 schools in Tier II cities in the next seven years. It also has plans to establish two universities with an investment of Rs.1000 K crores in the coming years.
Please share your view on the current scenario of the education industry
Traditional education systems, with emphasis on engineering, medicine, and other such traditional courses has been in play for ages now and has worked well so far. But, I think times are changing and hence, education needs to evolve and keep up with the advancing technologies. I believe that the advent of the internet has been a game changer in everything, including the education sector. Educational institutions are innovating, slowly but steadily, to prepare the students for the future skill sets that would be demanded by the industry. Disruptions brought in by technology are really challenging us educationists, where we are constantly challenged to remain relevant and to innovate.
We are living in a very fascinating era, which is a mix of both the analog and the digital world. This throws open huge opportunities for today’s students and aspirants as now they not only have the traditional and age-old courses to choose from but can choose from an array of new & emerging courses, which leads them to exciting and unchartered career paths.
What is your view on advancing technologies like AI?
While technology brings in numerous advantages, let’s not forget that certain technologies like AI can pose as a great threat to our basic and fundamental right, like the Right to Privacy! In a world which is merging and becoming one and everything is going digital, I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to remain private.
Hence, I believe that there has to be a legislative intervention, where the government puts in place policies and measures that safeguard its citizen’s interests. It is imperative that the policymakers have to stay a step ahead of the advancing technologies, act and react even quicker to align privacy rules. If we can take care of this ethical aspect, then we have a winning situation and technologies like AI will definitely be a boon and not a bane.
Will technology determine the future of education and children?
Technology is going to change the entire landscape of education. right from the courses being offered to the teaching medium and methodology. In future, education will be available right at your doorstep and on demand.
Imagine a scenario where a child sitting in India, wearing a Virtual Reality headset is taking lessons from the best teachers around the globe at the lowest cost possible through augmented reality technologies. In my opinion, in the next 20 years, an educational institution will be a very different place. The entire education system will shift onto a virtual space and the brick and motor module would exist only for the ‘experience’ factor.
Hence, universities that have only classroom modules have to act fast and start having a mix of both, online as well as offline modules. Children of the future are going to be very different. They may not want to read through textbooks, they may not want to be in the confines of a classroom.
Earlier, children used to follow the aspirations of their parents. But today, the aspirations are more about the child itself. The child of today is more aware of what they want than the child of yesterday. Even the jobs of the future are going to be very different and advanced in nature.
How is D Y Patil Group adopting the change?
With all the disruptions that are happening around us - books going off the shelves with Amazon taking over that space, disruptions in the music industry, the education industry is not far behind. I believe that some large global players in this space will dominate this space with online and offline offerings.
I see D Y Patil Group being the content backbone to these global players. We are building our IP, our online platform so that we can provide the back-end and the bandwidth support to these large players in the near future. Since the past few years, we have been digitizing, archiving all our lectures to build intellectual property as we have some real world-class talent in our campuses.
We are also introducing new age courses like AI, cloud computing, blockchain and aerospace engineering. We have a Think Tank of people from over 20 countries who come together to innovate curriculums every year. This Think Tank has people from all age groups – right from 13-year-olds to scientists with grey hair.
Please tell us about your incubator program
We are very proud of our in-house incubator program. The program is aimed at creating an ecosystem which encourages innovation. Our plan is not only to nurture novel entrepreneurial ideas that our students want to explore, but also some promising startups outside the campus. We would provide seed funding to innovative ideas in healthcare and education space primarily, but we are open to other sectors as well. We plan to start with a corpus of Rs.10 Crore and there would be many industry stalwarts on-boarded as mentors and advisors.
What's your current market presence and future expansion plans?
Currently, we have schools, colleges, and universities only in Mumbai and Pune. But we are looking at expanding soon in northern cities as well. We are planning to launch around 41 schools in Tier II cities in the next seven years with 1200-2000 students in each campus.
Also, we have plans to set up additional two universities, incurring an investment of Rs.500 Crores for each in the coming years. Both universities will have 30K students. We are yet to identify the cities for these universities. For our digital portal, we are setting up a new center in Pune. Globally, we are present in Belgium. We are now launching a medical school in the Caribbean as well and we want to expand into the South American market.
What is the philosophy of D Y Patil Group?
Education is currently the privilege of a very few. We want to penetrate into the rural areas, bring high-quality education to the masses at a low cost. We want to leverage the power of technology to achieve this goal. This is actually my father’s vision – to democratize education.
At D Y Patil Group, we always have our eyes set on the futuristic trends, so that we better prepare our students to be industry-ready and excel in their respective fields. We believe in T-shaped learning where our students have an all-round knowledge of different sectors like business, tech, humanities, finance, etc. along with in-depth expertise in a particular subject of choice. We also encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in our so that they become employers rather than an employee.