The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has estimated that the country's market for primary, secondary and tertiary education will be worth over $50 billion by 2015.
The country has close to 13 lakh educational institutes. Of this, 12.8 lakh are schools, the rest colleges and universities. "The Indian higher education system is one of the largest in the world. Against only 20 universities and 500 colleges with 0.1 million students at the time of independence, we now have about 611 universities and university-level institutions and 31,324 colleges as of August 2011," says Sanjeev Pathak, Country Head, Attach & Emerging Business, Personal Systems Group, HP India.
The sheer size of the educational system in India presents a huge opportunity for IT. At the same time, educational institutions are increasingly looking at IT as an enabler to spread quality education. According to a report from Springboard Research, India's education sector will step up its IT spending to $704 million in 2012.
In addition, the education sector is delighted with the recent announcements in the union budget. An increase in allocation by 21.7 percent for the Right to Education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, to Rs 25,555 crore, and by 29 percent for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan to Rs 3,124 crore, reiterates the government's commitment to education.
As proposed, 6,000 schools will be set up at the block level as model schools in the 12th Five Year Plan. The government has articulated several initiatives to give a boost to public-private partnerships (PPPs) in this sector. PPP schemes for 2,500 schools and the credit guarantee fund for education loans to students is likely to pave the way for more private investment in higher education.
Factors such as online learning, foreign collaboration, competition among institutes offering higher education, and the efforts of vendors and partners have been driving the demand for IT products and services in the sector. Many colleges and universities have invested in or plan to invest in online courses, virtual classrooms, and sector-specific software applications. WLAN, SAN and ERP are the three most popular IT solutions adopted by educational institutes in India.