This startup uses AI-backed platform to connect students with universities
Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder & CEO, LeverageEdu, sheds light on the disruption in the higher education sector and how his startup is helping to bridge the gap between students and universities in these times
What’s your assessment of the Covid-19 crisis, in terms of challenges and opportunities for the higher education sector?
Every crisis is an opportunity in disguise, so is this. First and foremost, it has given institutes of higher education a chance to take a pause, assess where they’ve reached and then start moving forward with renewed ambitions. I like how so many of them have this year overhauled curriculums and also done a top to bottom review of all programmes, ensuring what’s taught is relevant, plus also leads into opportunities of success in the world outside college. Moreover, the way the university community has stepped forward is enthralling – be it safety precautions, the massive government support in the UK towards international students, very fast changing reforms in countries like Germany, France and New Zealand.
Decisions of higher education are taken over a long period of time. And sometimes that’s even half a decade or more. Hence, the pandemic hasn’t really made people make drastic unplanned changes; infact, as per our survey, only eight per cent have decided to change plans. Given the recent announcements, mostly from the UK which is ahead of the pack right now, more European countries are likely to roll the red carpet for international students with exciting linked-to-job options.
How has your organisation responded to the situation?
We launched a brand new product for these times, called Uniconnect by Leverage Edu, in less than 15 days – and it has been a hit so far. We have had more than 100 universities participate, with an average student spent time of 45 minutes. The platform gives students direct access to universities in a face-to-face format, and allows them to apply to the college of their choice with just one click.
How can technology be leveraged in these times to ensure seamless education processes for students and universities?
A lot of universities have hinted towards adopting a hybrid model of learning in the next intake in order to avoid overcrowding in public spaces around campus and have introduced new class schedules to ensure social distancing is maintained. This calls upon universities to learn and adapt quickly, to take on a part of the learning online while still keeping the student experience at par with the offline parts that make the university experience what it really got to be.
Interactive online classrooms and remote proctoring will play a huge role here and Zoom calls aren’t the intended equivalent of an online class, things need to be built ground up. We have also had some universities using our online programme management (OPM) tool integrated within LeverageLive for webinar sessions.
How is your organisation complementing in this direction, using emerging technologies like AI?
The Leverage Edu AI algorithm is being increasingly used by students across the country, and after the lockdown, we have seen a huge boom in organic traffic; we now have over one million people accessing the LeverageEdu platform. The AI tool that helps students match to best-fit universities is free to use and has so far helped hundreds of thousands of students get matched to their best fit school based on their academics and other professional qualifications, interest areas, etc.
What are the industry best practices that you expect in a post-Covid world?
In the post-Covid world, we can expect universities to start operating in a neo-era. The character that globally acclaimed universities have shown in the present scenario, signals towards continuous evolvement into a sustainable hybrid mode of learning where curriculum and courses are designed to fulfill a job skill rather than an academic requirement.
Industries like EdTech and healthcare will be booming for the near future, so niche careers around that would encourage universities to come up with more technical courses which practicality transcends classroom book-guzzling. The liberal arts segment has also looked very promising recently and is definitely something to watch out for. Open thinking, diverse courses, fresher curriculums – the future is bright for the global student today.
What are your key focus areas in the near future?
Our key focus remains the same: building more deep and meaningful relationships with students and helping them achieve their dreams. We aspire to also build more industry-changing products for our students like Uniconnect. We always keep the student in mind in whatever decision we make and it will remain that way in whatever endeavours we take on; today, tomorrow and beyond.
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