The Interim Budget 2019 is the last budget before the term of the current NDA government ends. The Budget will be presented by officiating Finance Minister Piyush Goyal. Below are some of the expectations of the education industry from Union Budget 2019:

Divya Jain, CEO, and Founder, Safeducate: “In the previous Budget 2018 Government took key steps in skilling and also increased the funds. In this Budget 2019, we expect that the Government should take key steps in raising the quality of skills to levels demanded by a potential employer or even required for a person to start one’s own business. The focus should be on integrating strategies to increase skilling outcomes and sustain economic growth. Current skill development initiatives should be integrated with nation-building mission programmes. As an Organization which provides skilling and get funded from the Government to execute the Skilling programme, we seek some tax benefits. Constructing the Skilling centre requires a lot of physical material which is being charged along with GST. We are not being able to reclaim the GST we had paid in the Inward supplies.

“Also, we have various certification and degree programmes in Logistics and Supply chain management where we are not being exempted from GST. Support in terms of medical allowance for students that are being trained in skilling programmes. As technology is changing, the Government needs to allocate more funds to improve the quality and develop excellence in Skilling centres. The government has promised and initiated schemes in Skilling such as PMKVY 2.0, DDU-GKY, NAPS, Bharatmala and Sagarmala, PMKK etc. These schemes have helped us to reach the rural parts of India ‘The real India’. The government has been successful in implementing these schemes through strict monitoring and have been able to skill the rural youths of India.”

Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO, and Founder, NextEducation India Pvt. Ltd: “The budgetary allocation for education in 2018 stood at 3.5% of the entire budget, with a special focus on digitized classrooms, ICT-enabled learning, and quality teacher training programmes. However, the overall improvement of the education sector requires more prioritized attention and funding. With the General Budget around the corner, we have high hopes from the government and expect that a substantial amount would be set aside to the education sector so that we can lay a stronger foundation for new-age learning strategies. The prerequisite for quality education becoming available to all is the free and easy access to quality e-learning resources. This can be initiated by the government through technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and cloud computing. It is also important to ensure that internet access provided to rural areas is functional so that students from those parts can use it for effective self-learning. Training teachers on the latest pedagogies and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is the need of the hour as they are expected to employ innovative teaching methods and make use of digital tools in the classrooms. However, there is a dearth of 11 lakh adequately qualified teachers in the K–12 segments. Even though the government is trying to tackle the situation with initiatives such as Teacher Professional Development courses on the digital platform Diksha, this issue also needs prioritizing in the upcoming budget. We also hope that the government provides the right kind of infrastructural support for a system of education that is on a par with global standards, and help Indian students face the challenges of tomorrow”.

Amol Arora, Vice Chairman & Managing Director – Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools: “For any country, the most significant returns are those garnered from investments made in its children. The next generation is going to enter a globalized world and will be competing for jobs not just against other students but also innovative technologies that are quickly replacing human jobs. In order to keep our children in the competition, we need to ramp up our Ed-Tech sector in the years to come. To that end, Budget 2019 should give certain tax breaks to Ed-Tech startups to enable them to reach sustainable levels. The government should also grant financial incentives for organizations setting up educational institutes in rural and underserved areas. Currently, the private sector in education is viewed with distrust which is why concrete steps should be taken to show that public-private partnerships can be a win-win for all – delivering quality without fleecing the parents. The government has made significant strides in the direction of technology-enabled learning with the launch of SWAYAM, which offers free online courses by teachers from reputable institutions. Another notable achievement was giving more autonomy to institutions of higher education. The Prime Minister Research Fellows (PMRF) program has helped meritorious students tremendously. However, the promise to boost education expenditure to 6% of GDP is still a distant dream and quality of education in schools and colleges is still a worry. Most importantly, the implementation of policies & programs still remains a key challenge. We hope to see more from the government this year for this most vital sector of the economy.”

Rohit Sethi, Director, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant: “As the union budget 2019, is around the corner my expectations for the Ed Tech sector are indeed more investment opportunities to develop the Digital Education eco-system in India. As expected, we will have 735 million internet users by 2021, so the Ed tech sector has a more significant opportunity to penetrate millions of students both in urban and rural areas seeking education. For the next year, I’m expecting growth in the Ed-tech sector in terms of reaching students through distance learning and reducing the cost of education.

“In the overseas education industry, I’m expecting collaboration opportunities between public and private sector institutions in India by introducing policies for more expansion in infrastructure, funds availability, private investment, easily accessible quality education, which will be bringing thousands of aspirant students from abroad to Indian institutes for education. Not only this will contribute to our GDP but will also help us rank among the top study destinations and have institutes ranking top in the list top 100.”

Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO, JobsForHer: “According to the India Skills Report, 2018, the economic participation of women in the workforce has decreased from 32% in 2016 to 23% in 2018. Typically, the low-level jobs opted by women are now being automated and fewer women seem to be entering high-growth employment areas, as reported by WEF’s The Global Gender Gap Report, 2018.JobsForHer conducted an online survey for women restarters and 38% of them cited childcare as one of the biggest challenges to restarting their careers. With the Indian Government’s 400Cr proposal this year to reimburse employers for 7 of the 26 weeks of extended maternity leave, we hope to see an increase in female participation in the workforce. Outdated skill sets are yet another reason women are keeping out of the workforce. 34% of the women on our survey mentioned reskilling as a necessity for their career restart, progression and job role changes. We hope to see budget 2019 focus on skills development programs for women, a focus on reducing or eliminating hiring biases, family leave policies that include both parents, diversity and inclusion initiatives, equal pay policies to close the gender pay gap, recruiting more senior women leaders and Board members and compulsory anti-harassment training to ensure safer working environments for all women.”

Prashant Gupta, Executive Director, Sharda University: “While the upcoming Budget is crucial for all sectors, it is pivotal for the education sector. We expect to witness a higher allocation towards the education sector and provide useful and elementary education for all in the following budget. The Government must emphasize on education at all levels and rationalize taxes, including e-learning education programs and make them affordable for the masses. More government schemes for the education sector are expected to be introduced in order to provide the benefits to the faculty as well as the masses of the country. Rapid advancement in technology and business models are creating demand for reskilling of the workforce the Government should address this issue in the forthcoming budget. The Government should also reconsider GST rates on higher education and make education loan cheaper and the term period bigger, also partially exempt GST on outsourced services in higher education from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, to create low-cost educational institutions that offer services at all levels — primary, secondary and higher education.”

Sanjay Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, World University of Design: “Given the current economic situation globally, it is time for the Asian economies particularly India and China to become front-runners in progress. In order for us to keep maintain this growth momentum, continued impetus and allocations need to be given to the education sector. In order to improve the quality of education and keep up with the current technology trends, the government focus on encouraging existing & future faculty to take up research & doctoral studies is welcome. We expect to witness the introduction of a government schemes in the higher education sector to provide benefit to the faculty opting for re-skilling, up-skilling, e-education and doctoral studies.  The Government must also increase allocation towards the education sector and strengthen teacher training programs across the country to improve the overall quality and capacity of the education ecosystem. The Government should reconsider GST rates on higher education and make education loans.