Wednesday 27 March 2019

Indian giant Tata Group to sell Irish degrees worldwide

Ireland's richest family is behind massive deal

Pallonji Mistry
Pallonji Mistry

Sarah McCabe

Tata, the Indian conglomerate owned by Ireland's richest man, is working on a deal to sell Irish university degrees online around the world.

Tata is part-owned by Pallonji Mistry, the richest Irish citizen alive, and run by his son, Cyrus. The biggest company in the group, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), employs 140 here.

Senior executives from TCS, which took in revenues of $13bn last year, will meet Irish government officials and university bosses on a visit to Ireland this month to advance its new plans.

They centre around MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses - which are degrees and study programmes delivered online and accredited by universities.

Many education experts hail MOOCs as the future of education. Trinity College Dublin will debut its first in September, available for free.

They have traditionally been offered for free but some organisations have begun trying to monetise them.

MOOCs were pioneered in the US by elite colleges such as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As of May 2014, more than 900 MOOCs were offered by US universities and colleges but the concept is still relatively in its infancy elsewhere.

Tata has already developed its own in-house MOOC delivery method, which has been used by 300,000 Indian students.

It is now seeking a foreign base to set up a centre of excellence and provide accreditation for the courses to enable it to market them worldwide.

Tata executives think Ireland is the best location for this. The company favours an all-island approach and has already gone to several universities including Queen's University in Belfast as well as institutions in the Republic.

Cyrus Mistry is one of the key figures pushing the deal. His family's wealth is estimated at $10bn. His brother, Shapoor, and father, Pallonji, all own Irish passports. Pallonji Mistry renounced his Indian passport and took out Irish citizenship after marrying Dublin-born Patsy Perin Dubash. Indian law does not permit dual citizenship.

Mr Mistry owns an 18.4pc stake in Tata, India's largest private company. As well as a consulting business it has a host of other interests including motoring, construction, textiles, chemicals, communications, energy and retail assets. Brands under its control include Tetley Tea and Jaguar Land Rover.

Sunday Indo Business

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