Equipping The Most Relevant Skills And Knowledge

Ashish Munjal, Co-Founder and CEO of Sunstone Eduversity, opens up about his vision behind the venture, always putting the student first and the future of education.

Sunstone Eduversity began with the vision to bridge the industry-academia skill gap. The higher education institute offers a UGC-approved Pay after Placement MBA programme and AICTE-approved PGDM programmes wherein students pay a nominal fee during admission and the rest is paid after the student is gainfully employed. A model constructed to gain the trust of students, remove high costs as a barrier of entry and most importantly, show accountability.   

Ashish Munjal, Co-Founder and CEO of Sunstone Eduversity shares his vision on education, the success behind Sunstone and the importance of always being student-centric.   

What was the inspiration behind Sunstone Eduversity?   

When you look at the education ecosystem of our country, we read reports showing that only 30-40 per cent of fresh graduates are employable. We have a lot of student graduates, but companies will still complain that they can not find the right candidate. It seems that very few students have the right skills to work in a corporate. As a resource-starved country, this is very concerning and so, this was the problem we were looking to solve.  

We wanted to create an institute that would churn out corporate ready candidates. One whose curriculum provided the pedagogy and technical adaptability to students that put them in sync with corporates from day one of the jobs.   

Tell us about your ‘Pay After Placement’ Model  

‘Pay After Placement’ is a model where students pay a portion of the fees or registration amount upfront and then pay the rest after they get a job. This model helps us create trust in the student community but it is not the focus of what we stand for.    

The focus of Sunstone is to provide the right education and skill set to the students so that they can succeed. When a student joins an institution, they are trusting the system, they are investing years of their life with the expectation of becoming more employable in the market. We stand for quality education and better education outcomes.  

Can you tell us about your growth so far?  

Starting in 2019, we were still understanding and learning the space. Answering questions such as: What are the critical elements? What do student needs? What are the corporates are looking for? How can we turn this into a product?   

Now that we have put these elements together the model can be scaled aggressively. Growing into more cities, reaching more students and involving more corporates. We have opened six new campuses and seen 500x growth.  

How can we get a comprehensive job and skill insight?   

In the last 18 months, we have seen a complete shift in the way we work. Skills that were prioritised two years ago, may no longer be relevant. Every education institute needs to keep in mind that with the pandemic and digitisation the world is moving very quickly. We have to be equally fast to update our knowledge and systems.    

For example, when Tik Tok took the world by storm, we introduced a module to study its marketing strategies. When the app was banned, we consequently removed it. Now we are looking at the digital marketing of Instagram reels. This is the kind of adaptability that is required from educational institutes to ensure students are equipped with the most relevant skills and knowledge.   

What are your thoughts on the NEP 2020 policy?  

The way the government is making changes in the regulations of the overall education policy is very forward. Before the pandemic there were hardly any online courses in universities, now the government has introduced a blended model where up to 40 per cent of a course may be offered online. This allows accessibility, professionals, lecturers, speakers can deliver courses from across the country. 

They are also pushing for more internship opportunities for students. The regulations are evolving and new ways of teaching are becoming more acceptable. 

How has the perception of education in India changed over the last 18 months? 

Students and teachers are both becoming more comfortable with online classes. That being said, a student cannot be expected to just sit at home for the entirety of their schooling. Learning happens outside of the classroom, whether it is through extracurricular activities, peer learning, group projects, etc. For this reason, the future of education will evolve more in a hybrid way. 

Most companies are also comfortable functioning in a hybrid sort of model where employees can split the work week between the office and home. 

How are you building scale with the growing competition in the education sector?  

Having players competing against you is not a negative point.  Education is a very large market and having many players can be a very positive experience, as long as the goal is to help students achieve their desired outcomes.   

Achieving scale is not a problem in this market especially when you have a product that is valuable and you are making a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Whatever we do, we will always be student-first. That’s the secret sauce. We have already seen three times growth just from positive word of mouth.  

What does the future of education look like? 

The pre-pandemic world is not going to come back. Once the dust settles, we will have to adapt to a new normal. Here education is likely to be a mix of online and offline learning. Colleges are likely to stay and evolve into a hybrid system. They are important for a child’s growth through adolescence into adulthood. Edtech of course offers all kinds of opportunities. 

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