Institutions Adopting AI Today May See 4 Times Increased Funding by 2021: Study

  • However, only 32 percent of education institutions in Asia Pacific have embarked on their AI journey
  • Majority of education leaders believe that AI will either help to do their existing jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.
  • Education leaders also highlighted shortage of skills required for an AI future

Education institutions in Asia Pacific that have implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their processes are likely to see close to four times increased funding by 2021, according to a new study.

Microsoft Asia and IDC Asia/Pacific unveiled key findings of the study, “Future-Ready Skills: Assessing APAC Education Sector’s Use of AI” at the Asian Summit on Education and Skills (ASES) held in Bangalore, India from September 22 -24, 2019.

The study found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help double the rate of innovation improvements for higher education institutions in Asia Pacific.

While three out of four education leaders agree that AI will be able to drive competitiveness in the next three years, the study found that only 32 percent of education institutions in Asia Pacific have embarked on their AI journey.

“For many institutions, student performance has a direct impact on rankings. AI can be a tool to help better manage outcomes and ensure continued innovation to optimize operations and enhance student engagements, as it reduces resource intensive work among faculty and administrative staff,” said Larry Nelson, Regional General Manager — Education, Microsoft Asia.

Why adopt AI in education sector?

Based on the study, the top business drivers for education leaders to adopt AI include better student engagement, higher funding and accelerated innovation.

For institutions that have adopted AI, they are already seeing improvements in the range of 11 percent to 28 percent today in areas such as higher funding, accelerated innovation, higher competitiveness, improve efficiency and better student engagement.

By 2021, education institutions with AI stand to experience the biggest jump in higher funding, which is expected to increase by 3.7x, higher than most industry sectors in Asia Pacific.

How to fully harness the power of AI

The study also pointed out that the Asia Pacific’s education sector is currently lagging in data, strategy and investment as well as culture when compared to the region’s overall AI readiness.

“For education institutions to fully harness the power of AI, they will need to work on developing an AI strategy which can help better integrate AI elements in various areas of the institution. To do so, they will first need to have better data hygiene and work on improving data readiness. Lastly, culture is an important key to help nurture the AI-mindset. Education leaders will need to develop an innovative culture and empower their staff to work in an agile manner,” said Victor Lim, Vice President, Consulting Operations, IDC Asia/Pacific.

Shortage of skills required for AI future  

Interestingly, the study found that both education leaders and staff in the education sector are equally positive about AI’s impact on jobs.

Majority of education leaders (61 percent) and staff (61 percent) believe that AI will either help to do their existing jobs better or reduce repetitive tasks.

In addition, both are optimistic of the impact AI will bring to their jobs, with 21 percent of education leaders believing that AI will create new jobs while 13 percent of staff agreeing so.

However, according to education leaders, the skills required for an AI future are in shortage. The top three skills identified to face a shortage of supply in the next three years include:

  • IT skills and programming
  • Digital skills
  • Quantitative, analytical and statistical skills

The study also noted that there is a disconnect with education leaders’ perception of their staff’s willingness to reskill. Although the education leaders realize that there is an urgent need for reskilling efforts in order to cultivate an AI-ready workforce, they are not fully convinced that their staff are committed to being reskilled.

Based on the study, 26 percent of education leaders felt that workers have no interest to reskill, but only 11 percent of staff had no interest.

“Education management needs to better understand their staff and prioritize reskilling efforts to address skills shortage. Only then, are they able to bring their respective institutions forward into an AI future, and achieve better student outcomes,” shared Nelson.