Data accessed by TOI showed that around 1.1 crore enrolments took place on the platform between July 2019 and January 2021. An average of 27.4 lakh joined courses every semester since 2019 to study in courses offered by institutions like IITs, Indian Institute of Science, BHU and IIMs. “Covid is one of the major reasons for this growth. Growth that would have otherwise taken a decade has now been achieved in two years,” said V Ramgopal Rao, director of IIT-Delhi.
Enrolment in courses is expected to rise with the approval of credit transfers up to 40% from online courses towards the completion of degrees. Around 149 universities, including 26 central universities and 48 state-run universities will accept credits received on Swayam from 2021. Amit Khare, secretary for higher education in the education ministry, credited the new National Education Policy with facilitating the rapid growth of online learning.
He said though Covid hastened the pace, “ultimately it is the new National Education Policy which facilitated the developments. The first step being allowing up to 40% credit via online courses, followed by UGC allowing 100 top universities to offer full online degree programmes. Soon, students will be able to take any course from the choice of their institutions, earn and deposit credits and complete their degrees.”
The number of students appearing for Swayam exams and getting certified, or earning credits, has tripled since July 2018. Around 70,000 took the exams and nearly 65,000 qualified per semester in 2018; the number rose to nearly 2 lakh taking the exams in 2019 and 2020. An estimated 1.8 lakh students were certified per semester during this period.
The number of courses offered on the online platform has more than doubled since 2017. There were 323 courses available in July 2017, which grew to 876 in January 2021.
Career counsellor Pervin Malhotra said that the rise can be attributed to employers asking what students had done while colleges were shut due to the pandemic. Value addition and certifications achieved through Swayam helped increase students’ domain expertise in technical fields, she said.
“Another plus is that the brand value of a course offered by an IIT looks great on your resume. Why would a learner from a second-rung institution miss an opportunity to learn from lectures of IITs or NITs, earn a certificate or credit? Most students from second-rung institutions need supplementary learning and if you are getting it from premier sources why not?” said Malhotra.
Top institutes’ digital courses also witnessed significant growth over the past year. IIT-Delhi director Rao said that the institute had seen a marked increase in participation after it digitised 1,400 of its courses and made them available online.
“We launched eVidya during our last convocation with support of five edtech companies. Not only has it helped us reach students from remote areas, but our revenue has also increased by 400% in the online learning space,” said Rao.