From tax rebates to special allocation for edtech, check pre-budget expectations for education sector

The Union Budget 2022 will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2022. The budget session of the parliament will begin on January 31, 2022. From focussed budget allocation for the edtech companies and private institutions, the stakeholders in the education sector are expecting many bold steps from the government. Here’s what academicians and experts have to say:

“As technology becomes an indispensable part of teaching and learning during the pandemic, we hope that the government will take urgent action towards enhancing tech integration in early childhood education by facilitating access to the internet and learning devices like laptops, and easy availability of e-learning resources. We urge the Finance Minister to lay down the government’s vision and goals for the education sector in the coming year and provide financial support that this sector rightfully deserves.” — Kavita Sahay Kerawalla, Vice-Chairperson, VIBGYOR Group of Schools.

“The 2022 budget is expected to have a higher focus on the edtech sector as a whole, with significant investments to enhance greater access to robust and improved digital infrastructure. The GST for educational services is expected to be brought down to 5 per cent from the existing 18%, to increase accessibility and feasibility for students from lower and middle-class families. With greater internet penetration, the upcoming budget is expected to announce various initiatives to accelerate digital innovation in the edtech sector.” — Gerald Jaideep, CEO, Medvarsity Online.

“Despite many promises, the allocation for education had never touched 6 per cent of GDP in India. Contributions made by a corporate or a foundation or any other grant-making entity to a University or to a research centre or a centre of excellence (being part of a university or higher education institution) or a new university approved by the government or an approved programme under a university-industry partnership, should be eligible for deduction from taxable income to the extent of 300 per cent of such contribution. We would want the government to set up a scholarship to be named ‘The Indian Corporate Higher Education Scholarship’ with a corpus of R.1,000 crore contributed by the top 1000 corporations of the country. This should be run by an eminent independent board” YSR Murthy, Founding Vice-Chancellor, RV University, Bengaluru.

“With the Union Budget 2022-23 approaching, the young generation has high expectations from the government, especially in four segments – education & skill development, better infrastructure, enhanced employment opportunities and common man’s safety & security. The government also needs to support telecom companies so that they develop better infrastructure, internet connectivity, access to modern devices, ensuring last-mile delivery, quality guidance to the underserved that have been left behind owing to the digital divide. The Government should focus on major fund allocation towards innovation, research and development to help talent create lucrative employment opportunities.” — Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL).

“As we enter the third year under the pandemic, the Union Budget 2022-23 will be key in building further economic resilience even as we work towards more robust growth across different sectors. The government must take immediate action to ensure the long-term sustainability of higher educational institutions, especially in the face of increased competition by edtech companies. It can start by creating a viable structure for raising low-cost capital, similar to MSME financing schemes, thereby allowing legacy institutions to upgrade their teaching-learning methodologies and outcomes.” — Hersh Shah, CEO, Institute of Risk Management (IRM) – India Affiliate. 

“We cannot expect India’s government to bridge the education-employability gap by itself. It needs greater support from the private sector along with wider deployment of technology to ensure its goal of quality education for all is met. The union budget can facilitate this by reducing the GST rate for providing educational technology & ancillary services from 18 per cent to at least 5 per cent. In addition, it should allow private investors to set up schools & colleges with the ability to generate profits and equity returns.”  —  Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management, Shahani Group. 

“After a tumultuous two years, the education sector is looking to the government for increased support through the Union Budget 2022. Moves such as relaxation on GST for online classes, tax rebates for working professionals who wish to enrol for upskilling programmes, and direct bank transfers (DBT) to help learners procure mobile phones/tablets/laptops and internet connections to subscribe to educational services, must be explored.” — Anish Srikrishna, CEO, Times Professional Learning. 

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