Nishant Chandra, Co-founder, Newton School, says the online platform wants to upskill and help those who might not be at the best educational institutes in the country. “Our goal is to actually replace the current university system. We are strong believers that the current university systems are not catered towards actual outcomes,” Chandra told indianexpress.com over a call.
Chandra started Newton School in 2019 along with his IIT-Roorkee batchmate Siddharth Maheshwari. Both had worked in separate industries before they decided to come together to start Newton School—an online learning platform with a focus on coding and upskilling. Its students mostly consist of those who are already working and wish to upskill or those who are in tier-2 and tier-3 cities and universities and wish to ensure they get placed.
When asked to elaborate on what he means by ‘replacing the university’ system, Chandra, who has also worked at Unacademy in the past, admits the aim is not to replace the top 1 per cent of universities, where the quality of education is high. “The top one per cent of universities in India are doing a phenomenal job for their community and alumni. But the rest of them are not as good per. We have folks who are currently actually working in software development jobs like Amazon or Google mentoring our students. In addition to that, they also get quality products to practice their skills on,” he said.
The platform claims to take a more product and communities-centric approach to its ‘online’ learning, instead of simply teaching the same subject material. The curriculum is created keeping in mind the industry’s demands and needs. In addition to this, the platform uses product tools to help evaluate projects done by students, including full-stack tech projects. The technology can also give quick feedback to students, according to Chandra, who added they also use technology to look for trends in the industry. This can help educate students on the kind of skills that they need to arm themselves with, which is more aligned with the tech industry’s needs.
Students can take up courses ranging from six months to one year and they can cost from around Rs 2 lakh to up to Rs 4 lakh. The platform offers both regular programmes and those without a degree. The more expensive courses come with a master’s degree—Newton School has partnered with IU University, a German online university for these. The company also offers a “pay-after-placement” policy to deserving students.
Newton School claims to have connected with over 2000 companies and that over 900 companies have actually hired its student to date. Overall, the platform claims to have around 4000 students and is hoping to get to the 50,000 mark next year.
Chandra said the majority of students enrolling with them are looking for a career upgrade. “The industry professionals are mostly located around tier one and tier two cities where most companies are present such as Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and a bunch of tier two cities like Ahmedabad and Jaipur. The student population that’s majorly located in tier two-tier, tier three cities where the colleges are like SRM or Chandigarh University, or Nirma University,” he said adding that in some cases, even the universities are happy to partner with them as it helps increase the latter’s placement rate.
The platform also focuses on mentorship—something which Chandra said is critical to achieving success at tech jobs. “Mentors help with doubt-solving, project reviews and motivating and guiding your failure. We have 5200 instructors on the platform and more than 300-400 mentors on the platform. We also have thousands of mock interviews, so that by the time course is completed, you are ready for these,” he added.
He also said many of the mentors have worked in the industry or “taken 1000s of interviews themselves.” These mentors can also add to the curriculum as well, to ensure it meets industry needs. If a student doesn’t get placed, the platform also keeps referring them to other jobs and gives the student feedback based on earlier interviews. This ensures a strong feedback loop, according to Chandra, which helps dampens dissatisfaction when someone doesn’t get placed.
But is Chandra worried that the recent job cuts in the tech industry could negatively impact their placements, which is the reason why many students would consider Newton School? “Look at large companies like TCS and Infosys. They take one lakh students a year each at the beginning stage. If you are a great developer, you will get placed,” Chandra explained but admitted that the huge increase in salaries has tapered off.
“We do have that expectation that the salaries wouldn’t be the same as they were last year. The entry-level market of India in terms of tech jobs is still phenomenal. People are looking for junior developers to join,” he said.