3 minute read 25 Feb 2021
Trends in higher education

Vision 2040: A prescience to the future of higher education in India

By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

3 minute read 25 Feb 2021

Industry body FICCI and EY analyze the key drivers and emerging trends in higher education that are propelling Education 4.0 to the forefront and paving the way for the future of education in 2040.

In brief

  • The shift to Education 4.0 has brought greater flexibility, evolution in education delivery and enhanced personalization, thus suiting the needs of today’s learner with it
  • Emerging acceptance of online education has been accelerated by the pandemic, and a global shift towards digital and tech-fueled learning has acted like a testbed for Education 4.0 and its focused view on ‘the future is digital’.
  • Visionary documents such as the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as well as the Budget 2021 can help influence, as well as establish, some of the innovative aspects being adopted by institutes today.

Education 4.0 and resulting trends

Education systems have evolved over the centuries in response to social, economic and technology innovations, which in turn are impacted by the evolution in education system. There has been a shift from Education 3.0 to 4.0 bringing with it a variety of educational programs, instructional approaches, learning experiences and academic support strategies that are aligned to the learner’s distinct needs, aspirations and interests.

In Education 4.0, the learner will always be at the center of the education ecosystem, learning at the university as also from peers, industry and society at large.

To cater to the level of personalization required in this paradigm, higher education institutes (HEIs), could redefine the education ecosystem by enriching the student learning experience, focusing on employability and providing opportunities for research excellence. Responding to the evolving student needs coupled with rapidly changing industry demands, HEIs now have a greater onus to develop an ecosystem that will provide a high-quality educational experience.

 Is the glass half empty or half full? Where do we stand today?

With technology acting as a catalyst for innovation, changing student needs, acceptance of online learning, impact of the pandemic and the release of new education policy emerge as the key drivers for the ongoing evolution of the education system.

Steadily rising cost of higher education along with emergence of new learner profiles have enabled a shift in the higher education sector in India recently, from more physical in person teaching and learning to online mediums and pedagogy.

However, this shift to digital has brought about challenges for stakeholders who are finding it difficult to adjust to the “new normal”. New methods of education delivery, preventive access to research facilities, differentiated partnership models, reduced funding and complete dependence on technology across functions are some of the key obstacles facing students, faculty and HEIs.

The pandemic accelerated this shift in higher education and acted as a test bed for Education 4.0, transforming concepts of personalized learning and integration of technology to reality. India’s new NEP, launched in 2020, could also further build and strengthen some of the more sustainable initiatives in the new paradigm.

Education system in 2040: Outcome of rapid evolution and rollout of the NEP

Education system in 2040: Outcome of rapid evolution and rollout of the NEP

The pandemic and the introduction of the NEP together have reemphasized the need to integrate technology as an additional dimension in the higher education ecosystem, especially to deal with the unexpected challenges caused as a result of COVID-19.

Majority of institutes today have switched to purely online delivery in education as well as adopted digital tools and technologies across different functions, as a result of lockdowns. The reliance on digital, although on the higher side today, will continue to persist, thus changing the way traditional institutes functioned and imparted education.

The NEP encourages the online and distance learning, as well as promotes flexibility and innovation across the different aspects of the ecosystem. The Budget 2021 further details specific funding for functions which can help initiatives become sustainable in the long-run and transform the Indian higher education ecosystem.

This report highlights global best practices to identify the changes that have taken place and their role in the movement towards the future of education in 2040, across the higher education landscape.

Recommendations for the future

Identifying the sustainable practices across the higher education ecosystem and ensuring that important stakeholders are satisfied with their experience is key. Revisions, redesigns and restructuring across the higher education ecosystem while visioning a transformative and progressive higher education landscape, could help the institutes offer a quality student centric and holistic experience to learners. 

The pandemic triggered transformation of the higher education sector and has accelerated the move towards Education 4.0, a technologically fuelled, student centric model that promotes flexible learning paths and focuses on skill requirements of the industry.
Amitabh Jhingan
Partner – Education, EY India


The entire higher education ecosystem has undergone a massive transformation in the year 2020. This report analyzes how the pandemic, NEP 2020 and changing student preferences have acted as a testbed for Education 4.0. It also focuses on assessing and understanding the aspects that are sustainable in the future through identification of global best practices, stakeholder opinions and the changing regulatory landscape.

About this article

By EY India

Multidisciplinary professional services organization