The Union Budget for the year 2023-24 is around the corner and the education sector, which is among one of the top contributors to the economy and therefore remains a major focus every year, has high hopes to keep. Just to give a perspective, in last year’s Union Budget for 2022-23, the government had allocated Rs 40,828.35 crore for higher education while a fund of Rs 63,449.37 was granted for school education and literacy. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table the Union Budget 2023 on February 1, 2023.
As the government has rolled out several new initiatives and policy changes recently under the new National Education Policy (NEP), the upcoming Union Budget is expected to hold big announcements for the developments. These include digitisation, internationalisation of higher education, investment in skill development, and emphasis on regional languages in technical and medical education, among others. Efforts to generate more employment opportunities through promotion of newer fields such as the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) sector were also undertaken. Meanwhile, the ed-tech sector too expects a breather as it is currently struggling due to funding crunch.
FE Education spoke to industry experts to know their expectations and recommendation for Union Budget 2023:
Nikhil Barshikar, founder, CEO, Imarticus Learning
With the Union Budget 2023, we expect the government to recognise and encourage startups to focus on skill development and ensure that jobs are guaranteed. We would also like the government to acknowledge Skill-to-Job as a separate category and encourage the ed-tech platforms with some schemes or tax rebates. There is a massive surge in students and professionals opting for online courses, especially in tier two and three cities. The challenge arises in creating a stable digital infrastructure for such cities. With emerging technologies and market trends, upskilling is the need of the hour, and we hope that the budget also focuses on the upskilling sector.
Manav Subodh, founder, 1M1B( One Million for One Billion)
As we sit at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution; one that is digitizing and streamlining workspaces, classrooms, and economies. This revolution cannot be reserved simply for the students studying in the top schools and colleges in metros. This is why the upcoming budget should include an increased spending towards digitizing classrooms across government schools in rural areas. Special allocation for creating AR/VR labs in every school and Increase funding for innovators, developers and startups in the form of grants, mentorship, and access to resources.
Ritika Amit Kumar, co-founder, CEO, STEM Metaverse
The government has undertaken extensive skill development initiatives, with a particular focus on STEM education macros. I would recommend focusing on micro-factors as well, like reducing excise duty on lab equipment used in education and reducing GST on kits that are made in India. I would recommend a reduction of GST on STEM courses, content, VR, and AR equipment as well so that experiential STEM education can be made available to all.
Nirmal Gehlot, CEO and Founder, Utkarsh Classes
The government should set up a central committee or a board to tackle the cases of exam paper leaks, especially in government exams. We expect provisions to fill appointments in vacant posts in various government departments. We further expect the creation of an unemployment board at the union level: that will offer an agency for unemployed youth to voice the challenges/issues they face and find resolutions.
Poshak Agrawal, co-founder, Athena Education
Overall, the upcoming union budget 2023-2024 should recommend fund allocation for the technical training of teachers for their continuous professional development so that they evolve with the new pedagogical evolutions; promote accessibility and affordability of internet services; and sponsor career readiness programmes to fill the skill gaps in the local talent.
Prateek Bhargava, founder, CEO, Mindler
Budget 2023 can be an important inflection point for the Indian ed-tech sector to establish their dominance in the global markets. Government’s initiatives, such as Digital India, the National. Education Policy, UGC Reforms will continue to create an enabling environment for the growth of the edtech industry at large. The NEP had set a target of six percent of GDP as investment in education. Given that we are currently at around three percent of GDP, it is expected that the government will increase spending towards the education sector which can lead to better outcomes for the overall economy. Some of the key focus areas of the Budget 2023 from an edtech perspective should include tax incentives and investment towards technology infrastructure at schools.
Prashant Bhalla, President, Manav Rachna Educational Institutions
One of the most significant recommendations in the NEP 2020 is establishment of large multidisciplinary HEIs in or near every district by 2030. It is expected that Budget 2023 will provide a roadmap for the same. Also the competition in the education sector is expected to increase as UGC has initiated the process of inviting select foreign HEIs to open campuses in India. Budget 2023 will create a provision for increased salary budget for faculty and staff and enhanced infrastructure to accommodate a larger number of students in the existing campuses.
Neeti Sharma, co-founder, president, TeamLease Edtech
The end of 2022 witnessed a funding winter for edtech companies and the year at large witnessed a shift back toward a phygital and in many cases getting back to the classroom has been mandatory. I would request the Finance minister to incentivise taxation and subsidized rates in order to sustain the growth of the edtech sector.
Siddharth Chaturvedi, director, AISECT
For Higher Education, the government should allocate funds to promote research in government and private Institutions through investment in the Faculty Development and National Mentoring Programme as envisaged under the NEP. The government should also focus on creating dedicated funds for edtech startups/ initiatives to promote regional language content for learners from tier-two and tier-three markets.