11 September 2022 17:24:02 IST

‘Students opting to study in Canada, UK as work policies are favourable’

Amit Sevak, Global CEO, Educational Testing Service

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) test numbers are back to pre-Covid levels, after an initial drop for two consecutive years because of Covid, says Amit Sevak, Global CEO, Educational Testing Service (ETS) —the New Jersey-based agency which carries out these assessment examinations.

According to him, the success rate for Indian students continues to be “high” and “quite uniform” spreading across both tier 1 and tier 2 cities. However, among the recent trends, students who take the tests are preferring to opt for Canada and the UK-based colleges over the US because of favourable work policies there.

In an interview to  BL on Campus, he talks about Covid impacting learning and employability of students and the workforce, the National Education Policy 2020, among others.

How have GRE and TOEFL test numbers been post-Covid?
We launched TOEFL and GRE around the 1960s globally and around the same time in India. The number of aspirants has remained quite high. However, during Covid, we did see a dip in examinees appearing from India. But this year onwards, the numbers are back to pre-Covid levels. 
Any noticeable and interesting trends?
Success rates have been quite uniform across cities in India. But in terms of preferences, examinees are warming up to Canada and the UK universities over the US. This is primarily to do with work policies which are more favourable in these two countries as compared to the US.
In case of course preferences, it is predominantly liberal arts, business management and law.
But has Covid impacted employability?
To a certain extent, yes. Learning gaps have increased. Not just the employability factor, we see the virus impact the learning ability of students adversely in the secondary and higher secondary levels as well.
Social anxiety and emotional impact on students as they were not able to go to school, attend physical classes or get the right assessment done (since there were no tests) are real.
Some schools and educational institutions were able to bridge the gaps as they took the extra effort like embracing digital learning techniques. However, these sorts of investments in digital tech were not possible for all. So, naturally, the divide between, haves and have-nots are visibly up.
So, have edtech platforms not been the alternative that they were pitched as?
Some of the edtechs have done well and have courses that are well tailored to bridge industry needs and skill gaps of professionals or students. But, considering that there are many such platforms and they have a variety of offerings, it is difficult to say that all of them are effective.
There is no clear assessment of these platforms or some of these courses. It is time that a self regulating mechanism by the platforms or some regulation by the government or assessment by a third party agency and even the Centre takes place to judge their effectiveness.
 What is your take on NEP 2020?
National Education Policy 2022 was among the biggest reforms that India’s education sector saw in recent times. And it is a step in the right direction.
For instance, the policy stresses alternatives like pushing for vocational and skill training as not everyone goes to college after K12. It also focuses on internationalisation of the courses and helps students be better prepared for competitive exams.
The effectiveness of the policy would be visible some years down the line, maybe 10 years. The NEP is like India’s moonshot moment for education.