Ashis Munjal, co-founder and CEO of Sunstone University, talks about his vision behind the initiative, always putting the future of students and education first.
Sunstone Education began with a vision to bridge the industry-academia gap. The higher education institution offers a UGC-approved salary after the placement MBA program and AICTE-approved PGDM program where students pay a nominal fee at the time of admission and the rest is paid after the student’s lucrative employment. A model built to build students’ confidence, remove high costs as a barrier to entry and, most importantly, show accountability.
Ashis Munjal, co-founder and CEO of Sunstone Educational, shares his views on education, the success behind Sunstone, and the importance of always being student-centered.
What was the inspiration behind Sunstone Eduversity?
When you look at the education ecosystem in our country, we read reports that show that only 30-40 percent of new graduates are eligible for jobs. We have many students graduating, but the company will still complain that they can’t find the right candidate. It seems that very few students have the right skills to work in corporate. As a resource-starving country, this is very worrying and so, this is the problem we wanted to solve.
We wanted to create an organization that would brainstorm corporate ready candidates. Whose curriculum provides students with academic and technological adaptability that integrates them with corporates from the first day of their employment.
Tell us about your ‘Pay After Placement’ model
‘Pay after placement’ is a model where students pay a portion of the fee or registration in advance and then the rest after they get the job. This model helps build trust in our student community but is not the focus of what we stand for.
Sunstone’s focus is on providing students with the right education and skill set so that they can succeed. When a student joins an organization, they trust the system, they invest years of their lives in anticipation of further employment in the market. We stand for quality education and improved learning outcomes.
Can you tell us about your growth so far?
Starting in 2019, we are still understanding and learning the place. Answering questions such as: What are the critical elements? What do students need? What are corporates looking for? How can we turn this into a product?
Now that we’ve put these elements together the model can be aggressively measured. Growing in more cities, reaching out to more students and engaging more corporates. We have opened six new campuses and increased 500 times.
How can we get a comprehensive work and skill insight?
In the last 18 months, we have seen a complete change in the way we work. Skills that were prioritized two years ago may no longer be relevant Every educational institution must remember that the world is moving very fast with epidemics and digitalisation. We need to be equally quick to update our knowledge and systems.
For example, when Tik Tok took the world by storm, we launched a module to study its marketing strategies. When the app was banned, we removed it as a result. Now we are looking at the digital marketing of Instagram Reel. It requires such adaptability from the academy to ensure that students are equipped with the most relevant skills and knowledge.
What are your thoughts on the NEP 2020 policy?
The way the government is changing the rules and regulations of the overall education policy is far ahead. Before the epidemic there were very few online courses in universities, now the government has introduced a mixed model where up to 40 percent of a course can be offered online. It allows accessibility, professionals, lecturers, speakers can provide courses from all over the country.
They are pushing for more internship opportunities for students. Regulations are evolving and new ways of teaching are becoming more acceptable.
How has the concept of education in India changed in the last 18 months?
Both students and teachers are feeling more comfortable with online classes. That being said, a student cannot be expected to stay home all the time while studying at school. Education takes place outside the classroom through extracurricular activities, peer learning, group projects, etc. For this reason, the future of education will be further developed in a hybrid way.
Most companies feel comfortable working in hybrid type models where employees can divide work week between office and home.
How are you creating scale with increasing competition in the education sector?
Players competing against you is not a negative point. Education can be a huge market and having a lot of players can be a very positive experience, unless the goal is to help students achieve their desired results.
Achieving scale in this market is not a problem, especially when you have valuable products and you are making a meaningful impact on people’s lives. No matter what we do, we will always be student-first. This is the secret sauce. We have already seen a three-fold increase from positive word of mouth.
What will be the future of education?
The pre-epidemic world will never return. Once the dust settles, we have to adapt to a new normal. Education here can be a combination of online and offline education. Colleges have the potential to live and develop in a hybrid system. These are important for the growth of a child from adolescence to adolescence. Edtech certainly offers all kinds of opportunities.