Building Global Cohorts

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Karan Raturi, General Manager, North America at UpGrad joined the podcast to discuss the student and enrollment advantages of building global cohorts, especially in preparing students to compete in an increasingly global economy.

When we think about folks from other countries, each bringing their own perspective to a classroom, whether it's in person or digital, I think there's an incredible about of value add. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with car and Returne, general manager North America at Upgrad. Car and welcome to the show. Thanks, Erik. Great to be here. Really excited to have you and talk with you today about the students and enrollment benefits of building global cohorts. Before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both Upgrad and your will? They're certainly as you mentioned. I am car and Roturie and I am the general manager at Upgrad for North America, so largely responsible for the PNL of upgrads North American operations forming new university partnerships based in the US and global distribution rights for those partnerships here in the US. So joined UPGRAD early in March of this year and then it's been an adventurous four to five months with them. I bet. I bet current to kick us off today. What are some of the student advantages of having a cohort of global citizens in their classroom? Sure you know, I've personally been a product of two things. One is kind of growing up globally. So I've spent a number of years of my life in India, the early years and so through elementary school in India and then spending the later half of my education here in the US, and the change in perspectives...

...from that level has been tremendous in the value edition is brought in my own life. And then, you know, off to college and Grad School. In both of those scenarios here in the US, I was surrounded by students from all over the world sitting in that classroom and I don't think I fully appreciated what that depth of diversity brought to us in the way we solved our problems. And so when we think about folks from other countries, each bringing their own perspective to a classroom, whether it's in person or digital. I think there's an incredible about of value add one of the easy examples that comes to mind is is, you know, we had up Brad. I have, you know, data science courses, machine learning courses. As part of that, there's a lot of problem solving that you have to do in groups. There's a lot of mathematics that you have to solve as part of that problem solving in groups and you just learn the way mind work and the you know, some tips and tricks as to quick problem solving in quick mathematics that someone may have picked up, you know, in the way they've grown up. And it's it. You know, you see it all the time within the US. Rights of few go to. If you're at a university here in the US, you might make friends with the folks from the Midwest, from the south, from the West Coast, and each brings their own diverse perspective. Now, if you take that and amplify that times one hundred, now you're talking about folks from other countries and each comes from their own culture. At Upgrad we have case studies that are very tailor made to regions. So, you know, in the US we might do a case study on Uber and we still have a global court around that. In India we might do a case study around Ola, which is an Uber like service. In India we do door and Zomato, so because Avato is again a door competitor in in India. And it's interesting because they're sometimes they face the same challenges, sometimes they face different challenges and it's interesting to see a classroom off,...

...you know, students from thirty countries try to solve the same problem. One I'd love to just talk about one which is like cash on delivery is as a huge component of delivery services in India. So imagine an Amazon delivery person coming to your home and requesting cash for making that delivery. And you know, how do we solve for that? How do we build trust in the supply chain that delivery drivers are coming to your home and collecting cash and bringing it back to the office and so on so forth? And it's an awesome problem for someone who lives in a credit card world to try to solve as well. And that wouldn't happen if you weren't thinking about problems in a global perspective. It's super fascinating this this concept of the group dynamic benefits of globalization. So deloit did that study on cognitive diversity. This suggests having a diverse team and your work can increase company innovation by upwards to twenty percent, you imagined. You believe the same is true for creating innovative discussion in the classroom as well. Yeah, it's a diverse perspectives increase innovation in all settings. And so again I would break it down to the simplest of all settings, which is just a group of friends. And when you're sitting around, you know, a bonfire or whatever it may be, you will find that folks that have the most interesting positions on topics are often those that come from backgrounds most dissimilar to your own. So you know deloit's point of view. There is absolutely, I think, on inline with what we're seeing is as upgrond builds, these global coal courts. The diversity of thought in our class from online is is incredible and it decreases over confidence. If you have ten folks kind of aligned on a point of view, there's this perception that you're definitely going down the right path and you might not try to optimize or you might not look at other opportunities and you might miss some lowhanging fruit to do something even greater than sort of where you're headed. You know, this research has...

...been replicated in a variety of settings, including in, you know, in music, in work settings, and and what what is consistent is that bringing together perspectives that are not kind of aligned, or cultural backgrounds or socioeconomic backgrounds that are different from each other and up creating the best outcomes because you're challenging each other. If you look at cultures in terms of kind of company cultures, right, so you look at some of the the top employers in the country today, they have cultures that are known to be flat. So you know, folks that are new to the organization are challenging senior leaders at the organization and that's accepted and even encouraged. In the same way, you can bring that point of view to globalization and various cultures can start to challenge other cultures and then you end up with a work product, you end up with an output that is far greater in its complexity, maybe in its innovation, and I think that's where delay was really headed with with that research. How do you need to think about synchronous versus a synchronous learning when you have this globally diverse student cohort, all coming from different time zones and different life circumstances? So you know Eric already in the US, if you go to you know reasonably get school, you have professors that are largely sourced from all over the world. It's just the folks that are the best in their field, and that's what we're trying to do it up bread, is just bring the best resources to teach the topics that we think are relevant for our learners. And so what we do know, however, is in the secondary research we've done, as well as in focus groups with our own learners, what students of value is synchronous learning? So I wouldn't so I don't, you know, stress too much about the fact that you know where our professors from. Are they being able to relate to each of the the student population or student types in the in the individual cords? But what we look for, instance,...

...is are they leaders in the field and are they able to teach a case or teach a concept proficiently to a global student base? And so I am very much a proponent for a blended learning model, because part of the online experience is flexibility. So we do have a synchronous, you know, learning pieces within all our coursework, but we believe we deliver immense value through the synchronous components and to deliver that we make sure that the professor that is associated with our program is top notch and then they are able to overcome any concerns that there may be, even though I'd say they're largely not justified concerns, but any concerns that might arise due to like cultural differences within within the group. How do you think about scheduling and timing for those synchronous portions? Do you do set the time leaning toward East versus West and you know, hope the the right students hopped in or or your surprised when other people avoid that? They don't seem to mind coming in a midnight. No, no, you know, we've had an evolution there, Eric to be honest, and so we've gotten better and better. Right, so we're based in headquartered in India. We started delivering towards the the Indian population and it was difficult for American learners to join our American business grew enough to justify sort of its own, you know, time zone and delivery, and so we started resourcing and sourcing talent to to additionally deliver a second live session for each of our top programs in US time zones, which again it spans four time zone. So we I'd say we've had an evolution. We went from India only to India and what we called international, which clearly isn't sufficient and it's so it's a big, big world out there. And then we further carved it up and now we have sort of a dedicated sessions for India, India region, a pack, and then North America. As we've grown, we've felt that we have enough confidence to invest in additional delivery for our North American learners and...

...we're continuing to get to get better at that and refining it further so that each time zone is really accounted for. Is Not the easiest thing to do, but when you do it right and you do it well and you stick to it, it's a huge onlock because at the end of the day, folks are taking online courses, one of the biggest reasons, as we all know, is for flexibility and convenience, and so if you're going to use global cohorts and then not deliver it in a convenient fashion as per a working professionals timeline. You know their days and their schedules, because these are folks. You know, our average learner is between twenty five and forty five years old, and if we're not making it convenient for them that, you know, that takes away one of the big value propositions of online learning. And so we are laser focused on nailing that timing piece on delivery as well. So certain countries appear to be better at this building global chords than others. For instance, you know that the UK has three times the number of international students enrolled in their online programs in the US does. Why do you think American institutions are slight laggards here the Global Chord Game? Yeah, it's interesting because the the American universities, actually were ahead of the curve when it come when it came to going online. Right. So when we look at who went online first, it's US universities, no doubt about it. When we look at who went global first, it really seems to lean towards non American institutions. You know, part of it, I think is is regulation, so making sure that we keep accreditation standards high as we deliver these, you know, global courts. So there are only a few players, to be completely honest with you, in the world that, I think, can maintain the rigor can deal with the compliance and all of the facets required to take a US universities courses and deliver it to eighty five countries with confidence. And so of Grad as built the infrastructure to be able to do that, and...

...others, I'm sure have, but really that's part of the concern. Is How do we make sure when it's being delivered globally, that we maintain the standards we require? The second piece of it, I think is, is Brandon Prestige. So I think there's only a few, you know, countries or regions in the world that have universities that have global appeal, and the US is certainly the the home and then the UK, I would say, and Europe more broadly have more institutions as well that can be taken global. I think the US has felt that the market size in the US and the name recognition, the tradeoff that would come from going global and allowing a arge student population abroad to enter their programs might be in conflict or might harm them in the US in some way, and I think the UK and European institutions have been a little bit more willing to to examine that and see if that's how it plays out. And the US universities that have kind of gone down that path have actually had the opposite experience. So what we find is when you go online and when you go global, there is a halo effect and you actually get more on campus applications as well. So folks get to know of your brand abroad. So if you're working with up Brad and we're marketing you for one of your online courses in India, all of a sudden you're going to see a spike in on campus applications from Indian students as well. And so we're actually seeing that the universities that are most willing to partner and go global are not only not going to have that detrimental effect of brand erosion in the US, but instead you're going to have not only maybe this this sort of the same brand standing, but an influx of potential enrollments but also applications coming from around the world. Yeah, coming from the marketing in the enrollment side. The idea of you can get students room anywhere is really, really exciting and then it seeks inkstand up like, Oh man, I have to target students everywhere. Now what are the marketing and enrollment advantages and disadvantages...

...of trying to build class as across the Global Student Base? Yeah, so I may be touched. I'll touch on the potential disadvantage. That I think is relatively small because we've gone through this process now a few times and it's just making sure that a university, when you look to an online partner, that they are not just you know, a lot of OPM's, a a lot of online partners will talk about maintaining right identity, making sure your marketing is inline and getting approvals and so on. So for that that actually I don't think it's the difficult part. The difficult part comes in the delivery of your coursework and making sure that when someone in France, when someone in the UK takes a course from a university in New York or Florida or wherever it is, they're getting an experience that is in line with the standards and expectations of that university and the student experience isn't compromised in a way that is against the values and principles or the unique kind of marketing values that that that university wants the student to experience. I'd say that's like the risk, not more so than a disadvantage, but it's, I think, completely offset by the marketing advantages of going global and the two that are obvious, I think, our speed and scale. So when we talk about speed, today universities have the ability to partner and sign one contract and distribute their online coursework and with with a partner taking sort of full maketing responsibility and risk with the signature on one contract, and I think that's unprecedented. You know, largely universities look at one partner for the US, then they might slowly expand and test something in South America, pull back if it's not sticking, so on so forth. And certainly prior to that they were actually building campuses around the world. There certainly no need for that anymore. But they can take a graduate program that has a hundred students, professors are willing to, you know, work with an online player to take that program global and all of a sudden that...

...coursework that is that that return on a professor's time is now amplified by fifty because you can take that, you know, one hundred sort of student enrollment and make it, you know, a thousand or five hundred or Greater. Right up Grad is graduated eighty five hundred masters in data science students over the last nine months and that has been done at the same level at which our partner institutions would want admission standards to be, you know, for in person attendance. So without compromising quality. I think you can see scale. There are, you know, north of seven billion people on the planet and there are qualified students all over the world and the universities that provide that access are going to be long term winners. Car great stuff. Any final next steps? Of Vice pro institutions listening, considering the student and enrollment benefits of creating global courts for their online campuses. Where should they start? You know, I'd say look internally, look internally enrollment, look at programs that you think have global and mass appeal. Think about your own values and philosophies on access. We are big proponents of democratizing education and then, you know, evaluate the market place. You know there's plenty of folks out there that are looking to partner with the universities and can provide global courts for their their current courses or new courses that haven't been explored yet. And so I think, I think it's all about initiative. We meet with universities all the time and just what differs between them is willingness to look internally, be introspective, think about where opportunities lie and then scout a partner that speaks your language, just, you know, someone you can put your trust in with the brand if your university, and then someone who can provide the scale and to the ambition levels that you know you, you as a university administrator, are looking to achieve...

...with your enrollment, with your academic rigor and so on so forth. So that would be my guidance to any university administrator who is debating creating global courts current. Thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you or your team with they have any follow up questions? Sure, yeah, I'd love to connect with with anyone who would like my my email address is caren dot Roturi at upgradcom and my my phone number is for zero, four, five one. Eight, eight, one, two, four. More than happy to network and connect and discuss the potential of building global cords. Awesome carent, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you, Eric. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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