It was widely pondered if it was possible to be equal and good at the same time. Since then, the co-existential frameworks of educational access, equity, quality, and affordability have been hotly disputed. To create a large pool of effective learners endowed with domain knowledge, soft and hard skills, and the ability to communicate across cultures, time, and space, such an all-encompassing education system must ensure access to quality education to all knowledge seekers at their doorstep and at an affordable cost. The student community, particularly in India, is a diverse group with a wide range of needs that necessitates a variety of learning formats, pace, style choices, and other forms of flexibility.

Information and communication technology (ICT) may greatly assist us in this regard, since it is rapidly emerging as a catalyst for disruptive innovation in higher education and for the creation of new learning narratives. Higher education institutions (HEIs) that are unable to exploit technological disruptions in higher education to equip themselves to embrace the changes occurring in teaching and learning processes would lose their relevance.

In this context, digitalisation of higher education is critical because it enables responsive administration, multidisciplinary curricula, appropriate pedagogies (experiential learning), real-time performance evaluation in line with learning outcomes, effective communication, interconnectedness, and seamless availability of e-learning resources even in the most remote locations.

Furthermore, digitization will benefit students who are unable to attend class and those who are differently abled.

The production of high-quality e-contents and courseware by Electronic and Multimedia Resource Centres (EMRC) under the Consortium for Educational Communication, and their dissemination through the Vyas higher education TV channel and thirty-two SWAYAMPRABHA DTH channels, marked the beginning of digitalisation in Indian higher education. Several initiatives linked to access to online courses, quality digital academic content, academic research, and institutional administrative processes have advanced this digitisation process during the previous decade by the Ministry of Education.

Massive Open Online Courses through the SWAYAM platform, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning, e-PG Pathshala (curriculum-based interactive e-contents), e-Acharya (a portal to host all e-contents developed through projects under NME-ICT), FOSSE (Free/Libre and Open-Source Software for Education), and SAKSHAT (a one-stop education portal) are all available for online courses and access to online content.

Databases and tools made available to further academic research include e-Shodh Sindhu (a consortium for higher education e-resources), e-ShodhGangotri (a digital repository of thesis and dissertations), Shodh Shudhhi (plagiarism detection software), and the National Digital Library (a digital repository of vast academic content).

Similarly, e-Yantra (labs for embedded systems training), and e-Kalpa (digital learning environment for design development) are virtual learning environments that help with skill development and innovation in science, engineering, technology, and design development.

VIDWAN (a digital database of experts) is also made available to encourage academics and institutions to share their skills and collaborate.

The National Academic Depository ensures digital academic management through DigiLocker (for ensuring 24x7 availability of all student awards in digital form) and Baadal (NME-ICT cloud development and deployment of eGov applications for academic needs), while the SAMARTH project improves the efficiency of administrative, financial, and evaluation-related activities by reducing response time and promoting ease of doing education. All of these activities have laid the groundwork for the creation of a digitalization ecosystem in higher education. These initiatives will be extremely beneficial to the proposed digital university, which will be built on the University 4.0 paradigm.