Digital-first strategy is the only way to future-proof operating models: Harjiv Singh, BrainGain Global

BrainGain CEO, Harjiv Singh says in the post-pandemic world there will be a change in traditional forms of learning and educators

Aanchal Ghatak
New Update

BrainGain Global is a SaaS-enabled marketplace for higher education content, tools, and programs. It is a comprehensive companion for students and their families - across the learning lifecycle.


Harjiv Singh, founder and CEO, BrainGain Global, talks about the future of education. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: What will be the impact of COVID-19 on student mobility?

Harjiv Singh: The novel coronavirus is having a major impact on student mobility especially with regard to overseas education. China and India account for more than 56% of all students studying abroad. According to the 2019 Open Doors Report, China was the largest source of international students in the U.S. for 2018-19, with 369,548 students in undergraduate, graduate, non-degree, and optional practical training (OPT) programs.


With India being the second largest source of international students for the US, the outbreak of the pandemic, will be a huge hit to international student recruitment for universities globally, but especially, for universities in the US. There is no doubt that it will take a few years for global study mobility and overseas education to return to normalcy.

DQ: How can EdTech be used as a tool to face the challenge?

Harjiv Singh: Adopting a digital-first strategy is the only way to future-proof operating models, navigate current challenges and retain a competitive edge once colleges and schools are on the other side of this pandemic. In times of crises, education technology can ensure that education and learning do not come to a standstill. This is because EdTech offers platforms that enable continuity in times of social distance by making online learning possible for students and teachers alike. In the future, it could provide viable platforms for continuity of learning during any crisis.


Further, harnessing EdTech tools can help universities find the right cohort of students from across the globe quickly and much more efficiently. Universities can deploy EdTech solutions to conduct recruitments from across hundreds of cities simultaneously. Colleges can achieve successful global recruitment drives at much lower costs than previously possible--a boon considering currently stretched budgets. In fact, I believe that ed-tech holds the key to the transformation of our prevalent “industrial age” education system.

DQ: What does the future of education look like - virtual and remote learning?

Harjiv Singh: The pandemic is making it clear that a post-pandemic world requires approaches to learning that are more student-centred, competency and skill-driven, and outcome-focused. The world will need to move to a system of education that embeds flexibility in course structure. That way there would be a tighter connect between what is taught at university and the skills and competencies that the domestic and global economy needs.


Interestingly, this is exactly the kind of open-ended future of college education that was outlined in an unusual initiative--@Stanford Project. It proposes a blended model of learning that combines online and offline learning. The pandemic has occasioned a shift as a result of which a lot of energy and investment is now being spent on experimenting with forms of interactive learning in the online space. I think that these efforts can be combined with an exploration of learning and living on campus, now and in the future.

DQ: What are the precautionary steps/guidelines taken by universities and institutions during this pandemic?

Harjiv Singh: Almost all universities globally have introduced online and remote learning for currently enrolled students for the rest of the academic year. Universities are trying to be as communicative as possible with their students and have provided a set of guidelines on their websites as well.


As for upcoming sessions, universities are either postponing the beginning of the semester, offering students the option to defer study to the next year or shifting the first semester online.

DQ: How can BrainGain Global bridge access gaps between urban India and tier 2 and tier 3 cities?

Harjiv Singh: A major setback that students and their families in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India face is the lack of good quality and accessible educational infrastructure. Lack of committed teachers, coaching centres and quality education are why there’s a huge gap in educational outcomes in metropolitan versus tier 2 and 3 cities.


However, with the advent of ed-tech and online learning platforms, it is clear that education will steadily become more accessible to tier 2 and 3 cities as well. Not only does technology make education more easily available, but it also ensures a more personalized learning experience.

Harjiv Singh, founder and CEO, BrainGain Global


DQ: Do you think community-based content will get a push due to the current situation? If yes, how?

Harjiv Singh: I think that in a post-pandemic world, there will be a change in traditional forms of learning and educators will adopt a hybrid model which will also give emphasis to community-based learning approaches.

Distance learning will help schools, universities and other education institutes realize that online or offline learning by themselves are not enough and are best combined. This realization will also give rise to experiential learning which will combine personalized learning with experiences including student learning informed by exposure to communities, their challenges and needs.

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