Online Image Makeover: A winning mantra for Indian universities to gain edge over foreign educators

Like in every sphere, this competition has taken its battle online as well.

Published:November 18, 2016 10:46 pm

In a bid to expand India’s educational horizon, the Narendra Modi Government has openly invited foreign universities to set up campuses in the country. But India’s indigenous education sector believes such engagements will disrupt their significance, even if they are thinking purely from self-interest angle.

Earlier this year, the NITI Aayog came up with a tailored UGC Act and AICTE regulations to quell such fears, but although only little autonomy is expected to be granted to the offshore varsities, Indian institutions have been apprehensive about the cost escalation in the education domain.

In its report, though, the NITI Aayog believes that the likely increase in competition will raise the standards of higher education in India, stimulating India-born entities to lift themselves up to a level where they are able to compete on equal footing with popular foreign institutions. In the long-term, this move has the potential to benefit Indian universities.

Until recently, foreign institutions were allowed to share their academic resources and expertise only via collaborations with Indian institutes and accreditation route.

While the Government, besides helping enhance India’s learning spectrum through the introduction of full-fledged international institutes, would also be considering this as an opportunity for catalyzing investments in the education sector, it is obvious that Indian Universities are feeling the heat. With an inherent inclination of domestic students to tilt towards the ‘Western way of learning’, the competition will only get tougher when both start operating on common soil.

If a student could cut costs by not having to worry about travel expenses, accommodation facilities, visa issues etc. for studies abroad, why wouldn’t he opt for the same brand name he wanted to go for with the convenience of staying on home turf?

Like in every sphere, this competition has taken its battle online as well. With both foreign and domestic universities deftly trying to make their presence felt on the internet, the students will require an in-depth understanding and guidance of what’s on offer.

aReputation (areputation.co.uk), an Indo-British online reputation management firm, headquartered in New Delhi, reveals that an increasing number of clients are waking up to this stark reality and are seeking online brand management.

Megha Sharma, spokesperson at aReputation, says: “Indian universities, unfortunately, do not have a very good reputation. Private ones are grappling with controversies while the national universities have their own set of problems. Alarmingly, they have failed to realise the significance of online image. We have been servicing clients who are facing damaging prospects because of their inability to handle crisis.

“No one checks out an institution by physically going there to investigate and enquire before making a decision, it’s all available online. Or not. Our survey across the board has found that those who do have a presence are not the best versions of themselves. It has a negative influence on students who are in the process of making a choice that will shape their future. So it’s critical to ensure that the online presence is well taken care of.”

This is the digital age, and if the very institutions empowered and entrusted with the responsibility to take India’s youth forward don’t manage their image in a dynamic and credible way, there is little hope.