Like many industries, the internet has changed the game for higher education. And as access to information expands, universities have been forced to rethink their service offering.

While the world’s network of traditional universities will always play a key role in research and education, successful online strategies in the space have proven to be profitable.

For one thing, leading education platforms are viewed as good defensive assets — capable of maintaining cashflows in an economic downturn.

SP Jain’s School of Global Management was one player that arose of the ongoing paradigm-shift when it was founded in 2004. The company is licensed to offer an MBA program as well as undergraduate degrees in business, data science and economics.

Launched from its base in Mumbai, SP Jain quickly established a campus footprint across the Asia-Pacific region in Dubai, Sydney and Singapore.

Speaking with Stockhead, company president Nitish Jain said the company’s global rollout helped provide it with an early competitive advantage.

He cited feedback from multinational companies, who had an “army of Ivy League MBAs” working for them who often struggled when they stepped outside their home country.

Offering an MBA program through a global network gave students the opportunity to learn how business needs to be adapted for the global environment.

Jain said that gave the program an “edge”, with a high recruitment rate among graduating students. Seven years after its launch, SP Jain was included on the Financial Times’ Top 100 rankings for global MBA programs.

When they were ranked again for the second straight year, “that’s when we began to think this model actually works”, Jain said.

Getting it right online

Despite finding early success with its regional strategy, Jain said the company has been forced to move fast as the internet reduces barriers to entry for the sector.

And looking ahead, the company’s primary focus is on building market share with its Engaged Learning Online (ELO) studio platform.

Accessible from anywhere, the ELO offering is built around an engaged visual learning experience where students can interact with lecturers, collaborate on assignments, break out into teams for discussion and debate.

“The concept of online has always been attractive because it’s convenient, but it also suffers from a fatal flaw — it’s not engaging,” Jain says.

“Business isn’t just about lectures, it’s about critical thinking. No one can lecture you how to do that, you have to do it yourself.”

“With the ELO, we’ve created a classroom-like experience that’s delivered to your home.”

SP Jain will deploy the ELO platform when it launches its Executive MBA program in Sydney this September, from its campus at Olympic Park.

The company’s target market includes experienced working professionals balancing senior roles and family life, who can log on for an engaged tertiary education experience in the evenings after work.

Ultimately, Jain said the key to a building market share in higher education is to focus on teaching relevant skills.

“It may seem like a tame word, but in reality that’s the key, because if you’re a student you want to be taught practical skills — skills that can help you create your own business.”

“We select our faculty based on that concept. It’s what you teach, how you teach, the experiences the students get. Two schools on the surface may look the same, but it’s what really happens on the inside that makes a difference.”