Mumbai, April 24: Founder of online education startup UpGrad, Ronnie Screwvala, has decided to launch a scholarship fund of Rs 100 crores catering to professionals who are looking at enhancing their skills and qualifications.
The scholarship can be availed by anyone looking to undertake online courses and values of the same range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakhs. The former media and entertainment industry tycoon is reported to have said in a TV interview, “The inspiration for the scholarship fund was really our experience over the last two years with UpGrad and understanding that the need to push the credibility of online learning as a viable option is still not there.”
While Screwvala has already pledged Rs 10 crores as an initial corpus to the fund, he plans to take up the sum to a net amount of Rs 100 crores within the next 12 months. UpGrad has already partnered with the Modi government’s Start Up India programme and currently offers a four-week course on entrepreneurship.
Currently, UpGrad has over 6000 professionals who have enrolled in it nine programmes. The courses presently offered mainly involve data analysis and digital skills with varying levels of certification. Their duration ranges between nine and 11 months and can cost anywhere up to Rs 2 lakhs.
The platform has a tie-up with two major institutes namely; MICA (Institute of Strategic Marketing and Communication) in Allahabad and the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bengaluru. Interestingly, the scholarships would not be limited to the courses offered on UpGrad and working professionals can opt for any course of their choice from any online platform.
In a recent interview Screwvala also said, “The key criterion for selection outside of a normal aptitude test is that firstly, they should be working professionals… secondly for me personally, having seen what we have built, and me being an entrepreneur for the last 20 years, is attitude. So, when we are scrutinising people for the scholarship (it) is really going to boil down to attitude. If the attitude is right, your learning would be right.”
He then added, “Online education is a must for India. Statistics are that about 120-130 million people in India should be doing higher education today but only 25 million are doing it… It’s not that they can’t afford it… It’s about I have to start working. So, online is a must-to-do thing and the only thing is it should be credible.”
UpGrad aims towards obtaining the funds from high net worth people and companies. Having been the founder and former CEO of UTV, Screwvala with vast contacts has already made investments in 14 start-ups such as Zivame and Lenskart via his private equity firm, Unilazer Ventures Ltd