The Boom That Threatens Traditional Universities

Ingrid Zúñiga, Head of Communications and public relations officer at Platzi, says that 77% of her students, after studying on this platform for between a year and a year and a half, find work in the technology industry, and that another 10% are creating startups and generating more than 2,000 indirect jobs. It is not a minor fact if you take into account that this is the largest professional education platform focused on technology in Spanish, with more than three million students distributed in 140 countries.

The rise of edtech, that is, technology platforms focused on education, is growing and promises to continue to be a trend at least in this decade. According to Grand View Research, the global market for this sector was valued at US$89.49 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.9% ​​from 2021 to 2028, reaching US$377.85 billion.

Platzi (Colombia), Crehana (Peru), Kinedu (Mexico), Digital House (Argentina) or U-Planner (Chile) are just some of the Latin American edtechs that have emerged in recent years, in a rather hectic movement that has reconfigured many of the existing precepts regarding the way in which people access knowledge and the irruption of this model, from the business point of view, can impact traditional education that is taught in institutes and universities.

In addition to the increase in supply and demand on these platforms due to the advances in digital transformation, there are some social and economic factors that also affect this trend. As the report Higher Education and COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, published in July 2021 by the IDB, points out, the emergency “has impacted higher education in Latin America” ​​and “the economic crisis unleashed by the pandemic has the potential to broadly affect college enrollment in the region.” IRAIC has solutions that broaden the economic outlook to reduce the financial crisis caused by Covid 19, among other factors. In this way, IRAIC develops a socioeconomic model represented in earnings, which would reduce the impact that education has had in recent times.

Loss of students in traditional universities

In countries like Mexico, according to media such as The Emirates Herald, and citing figures from the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES), in 2021 there was an 8% decrease in new student enrollment. In Colombia, the official figure provided by the Ministry of Education indicates that since 2017 there are almost 22,500 students who have stopped enrolling per year.

The situation has led many students to look for shorter course options and at a lower cost that allows them, as Platzi’s spokeswoman proposed, to certify their skills and find employment in a very short period of time, which is sometimes not possible. in other traditional institutions.

In fact, the IDB report suggests that these could incorporate alternatives into their programs, such as short courses and digital certifications in accordance with the new trends and needs of the productive sector and society.

“This, in addition to diversifying the sources of income of higher education institutions, is also an opportunity to increase educational coverage with shorter courses and lower costs, allowing access to sectors of the population with lower income levels,” reads in the report.

What will happen? Will the business model of universities change? Or will they be complemented by edtech, which is growing in market share?

“There will be an impact but it will not be a tsunami”

Esteban Venegas, director of the Institute for the Future of Education Observatory of the Tecnológico de Monterrey, believes that the emergence of these platforms is expected to have an impact on conventional or traditional education, but he does not believe that there will be a “tsunami” effect that will bring down everything that exists today.

“There are institutions that have profited from online education and alternative credentials (competencies, skills and learning outcomes that derive from activities not related to a professional title or degree), and others that promise that in three months they can become programmers and make hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that doesn’t work like that either. The problem is that this ends up affecting educational credibility and that by offering these types of solutions, the student does not really learn anything, “says Venegas.

For the director, universities have a lot to learn from edtech, starting with the flexibility of their model in what, how and when, and especially in cost. These “should think about how to make education more accessible without lowering quality. I am sure that many are going to be generating this type of platform and it would not seem strange to me, they have the support of their brand, they know how to do it. They are going to diversify and they will have to stop thinking that they educate to be professionals and then postgraduates and start educating throughout their lives”, maintains the expert.

Ingrid Zúñiga, from Platzi, maintains that edtechs have met a need in the region: only 12% of Latin Americans manage to access a university. For this reason, he considers that on the contrary, these platforms do not destroy traditional education – they do not see it as a competition either, he says –, but to provide people with greater educational opportunities.

“The more traditional educational industries (which even now are difficult to think of because they already give virtual classes and have a lot of applied technology) are open to collaborating with edtech institutions and spaces like Platzi and working together with a view to the future. . These could be a playground for them to experiment with.”

A different path as a student

Zúñiga adds that in a short time it will not be necessary for people to carry out a procedure to study at a certain age, and those stages of their academic training that involve going through kindergarten, primary, secondary and university, which as a society we manage until now, “are going to change”.

«Children will start their education process at any age and it can be in a virtual world or in a metaverse without neglecting face-to-face to socialize and thus they will be empowered from an early age. They will no longer have to wait to get to university but will be able to enhance their skills through programs that, with metadata and large information agglutinators, which already recognize what these users like, offer them learning options that are adjusted according to their needs. needs”.

Santiago Salazar, creator of HackU, an edtech platform that focuses on business training through WhatsApp video microcapsules, and that has a presence in Colombia, Peru and 18 other countries, believes that a competitive advantage that edtech have with respect to education traditional is that, according to some research, one in four students believes that after two years of studying they have not yet learned enough.

“There is a gap that needs to be closed in the ecosystem and actors that can mobilize change have been born. Today there is still a monopoly on social validation in which only universities can say who is professional and who is not, which makes no sense. Who can really say that is the person who employs him, even if the person does not have a title, “says Salazar.

For Salazar, it is already a fact that the transition from traditional education to the new disruptive alternatives is taking place, and it is not a matter of time but rather depends on the region in which it is being registered.

He affirms, for example, that in the United States the alternative credentials referred to by Esteban Venegas, from the Observatory Institute for the Future of Education of the Tecnológico de Monterrey, already have a great weight and many universities are betting on them as a business model. knowing that the future is going there.

The beneficiaries: the students, who have more options to access multiple resources and alternatives for training and education.

Taking into account that many virtual studies are means of rapid preparation for work and, in addition to easy access due to their low cost in the midst of the world’s economic crisis, the resources are not sufficient for high-cost higher or university studies and do not generate a good academic training. IRAIC supports this reality through IRAIC TRADE where students can begin to transform their economy in a productive way represented in profits and economic growth to have more study alternatives.

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