Perspectives from ISB


This article explores the possible regulatory framework for an ever-growing Education Technology (Edtech) sector. Edtech plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of education and workforce development in India. As such, nurturing the growth of this sector is essential for fostering a skilled workforce and driving economic growth in the digital age. By adopting a collaborative and forward-thinking approach to regulation, policymakers can support the continued expansion of Edtech while safeguarding the interests of consumers and promoting a culture of innovation and excellence in education.


Education technology, popularly known as edtech, has grown to become a $5.76 billion industry in India in 2023 and is expected to grow further into $11.51 billion in 2027, according to Dart Consulting. This sector, distinct from traditional education, delivers test preparation content, K12 tuition, skill development, language learning and higher education certifications. Given the importance of this sector, there are no dedicated edtech regulations in India, which creates problems for both edtech service providers and consumers. Edtech today is indirectly regulated through rules applicable to e-commerce companies that, in most cases, do not consider the typical context of the sector.

Current Regulations

Edtech is considered e-commerce, and hence, rules pertaining to consumer protection and information technology apply in this context. The regulatory authorities are Consumer Courts and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in each state. The advertising for this sector is regulated by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which is a self-regulated body. In view of several customer complaints related to malpractices by edtech companies and government proactive measures, the Internet and Mobile Association of India formed the Indian Edtech Consortium (IEC) as a self-regulatory body.

In view of misleading advertising, ASCI came up with certain guidelines for education advertising. These guidelines include transparency, honesty, and respect for all students. This is to protect the student community from having mental health issues that develop into more complex physical and mental well-being challenges later.

The other laws regulating edtech are overarching national laws on Intellectual Property, Data Protection, and certain University Grant Commission rules for online higher education programmes.

Importance of a Regulatory Framework

Education as a sector is viewed as a public good and has strong implications on the development of future generations and the overall national. Hence, there is a high level of sensitivity surrounding this sector, and therefore, there is a need to create a level playing field with adequate regulatory checks and balances. In a survey conducted by Local Circle, 66% respondents felt that the sector should be regulated, and 96% felt that there should be a code of conduct on various packages or subscriptions available on the edtech platforms. The information asymmetry and lack of accountability of edtech companies to any regulator or public may harm the sector in the long run, coupled with eroding public trust.

Global Regulations on Edtech

In the United States, which is the largest edtech market, there are several laws and regulations for consumer protection. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects children under 13 from any privacy violations from edtech companies. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects student educational records to be confidential. Rules in other parts of the world are the General Data Protection Regulations throughout Europe for protection of privacy and confidentiality. There are other industry standards like LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) that allow the interoperability between various online learning vendors, QTI (Question and Test Interoperability) that enables the smooth exchange of various learning tools like assessment content, scoring analytics engines, learning data, etc., among various vendors. These standards allow students to port to other service providers if the existing ones do not provide a satisfactory level of service.

Contours of the Regulatory Framework

Any new regulatory framework in edtech must encompass the following principles:

  • Protection from misleading advertising that communicates certain features or service deliverables that are not explicit in the offering. The advertising regulations should also have content that does not incite jealousy, anxiety or fear of missing out among students at large.
  • Protection of consumer data and privacy to ensure consumer rights are protected. Since almost every consumer has an activated digital presence, it is the responsibility of the edtech companies to protect consumers’ data including personal, learning and other outcome data from exploitation by other commercial organisations or criminal operators.
  • Regulations for interoperability between edtech companies on the lines of telecom service porting in case the consumer is not happy with the existing service providers.

Balancing Innovation and Regulation: Nurturing India’s Edtech Landscape

The government should be wary of regulatory activism. Heavy regulatory burdens have the capacity to stifle creativity and innovation, which may result in the sector not reaching its full potential. Hence, the regulations need to be created with active participation from the existing prominent service providers so that they can put forward their side of the story.

While regulations are essential for ensuring accountability and protecting consumers, an excessively heavy regulatory burden could impede the dynamic growth and innovation within the edtech sector. Excessive red tape may discourage new entrants and inhibit the flexibility necessary for experimentation and adaptation to rapidly evolving educational needs. Moreover, stringent regulations may inadvertently favour established players, stifling competition and limiting the diversity of offerings in the market.

Therefore, regulatory frameworks must be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, including prominent edtech service providers. Active participation from industry leaders can ensure that regulations strike the right balance between safeguarding consumer interests and fostering an environment conducive to innovation and growth. By involving key players in the regulatory process, policymakers can gain valuable insights into the sector’s challenges and opportunities, enabling them to craft more effective and equitable regulations.

Author’s Bio: Prof Debdutta Choudhury is an IIM Calcutta -NIT Jaipur alumnus with expertise in Global Accreditations like AACSB, EFMD and AMBA. He has written several books and research articles and is a regular contributor to EFMD, AACSB, IE blogs and magazines. He has authored two cases published by Kellog Case Center.

DISCLAIMER : The views expressed in this blog/article are author’s personal.

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