Last week (26 Apr), news emerged that Singapore’s Temasek Holdings has invested US$120 million in a Mumbai-based startup called UpGrad Education, valuing the company at more than US$600 million.
UpGrad said it intended to use Temasek’s money to further strengthen its team, scale its global market operations, bolster its technology and product capabilities, as well as pursue merger and acquisition opportunities.
UpGrad, which offers over a hundred online courses to registered learners, said it also intends to expand its graduate and postgraduate degree portfolio in India with the new funding.
“This capital will further fuel our commitment towards global expansion as well as deeper India penetration, as we march forward with our goal of making India the teaching capital of the world,” said Mr Screwvala, chairman of UpGrad.
“Online degrees, especially undergraduate degrees, are a highly scalable opportunity,” he added.
He told the media that his company’s sales were doubling every year and he expects to raise another round of capital in three to six months’ time.
Screwvala maintained that 85% of those who signed up for UpGrad’s courses completed those. “Our completion record is better than that of many similar companies in the US,” he said.
UpGrad also wants to list the company in the public market in due course. “It’s a long-term business that we’re growing. As much as funding is a stepping stone towards building that, an IPO takes it to another level. When you’re a listed company, it changes your profile around the world,” Screwvala said.
Meanwhile, UNESCO has published a report saying that India’s education system is mired in corruption. It said that the sorry state of Indian education is partly due to views held by students that cheating in examinations is their traditional right.
In India universities, cheating is now well-established. The fees for manipulating entrance tests ranges between US$80 to US$20,000 for popular programmes such as computer science, medicine and engineering the report said.
Indian university caught selling over 36,000 fake degrees
Earlier this year, Manav Bharti University, a private university in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh was caught for having sold 36,000 degrees across 17 states in over 11 years, the Times of India reported.
According to investigations launched by Indian authorities in February this year, the degrees were sold ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 rupees (S$1,807 to S$5,420). Of the 41,000 degrees issued by the university, only 5,000 were found to be genuine
Following this revelation, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed that it began investigating 15 work pass holders in Singapore who had their declared education qualifications from this particular university in their work pass applications.
“If found to have falsely declared their educational qualifications, their work passes will be immediately revoked and they will be permanently barred from employment in Singapore,” said an MOM spokesperson in a statement on Wednesday (17 Feb).
CECA boosts foreign investments in Singapore
In an attempt to defend the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing pointed out some of the Agreement’s contributions to the Singaporean economy.
During an interview last year, Mr Chan stated that Singapore’s trade with India has grown by S$7.6 billion and investments which is 34 times since the inception of CECA in 2005.
If that’s not all, the soon-to-be Education Minister also expressed that CECA protects Singaporean companies that invest in India and also attracts foreign investors who invest in India who in turn employ Singaporeans to manage their investments.
He also went on to say that CECA gives Singapore a better access to a huge market like India as well as the benefits of tax savings that come from tariff reductions which in turn allows us to grow our capabilities.