Outsourced Learning to India with HarperCollins’ Help

By Carmen Comment

The Times reports on the alliance forged this week between TutorVista, an Indian start-up that offers schoolchildren unlimited “offshored” tutoring for £50 a month and HarperCollins. The company will face competition from Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, which said that it is “very close to launching a live tutoring service”, which will be linked to its expanding online business.

TutorVista’s approach echos the outsourcing of jobs to India by Western countries; students are coached via an online platform that is down-loaded on to a home computer and includes an interactive white-board, an instant messaging tool and an internet telephone system. Tutors, recruited from India’s massive pool of graduates, must have a good degree in the subject that they will teach and are given a six-week training course covering topics such as the UK syllabus and how to broach the “accent barrier”. Under the deal with Harper Education, the publisher will promote TutorVista services on its titles. Content from HarperCollins will be used by TutorVista for online learning aids in the run-up to the Easter cramming season.

Both HarperCollins & Pearson are aiming to tap into a rapidly growing market. British parents will spend an estimated 500 million pounds on tutors this year in an effort to secure success in GCSEs and A levels, up from an estimated 450 million pounds in 2006, according to Barnes, the market researchers.