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Business Schools In India Are Still Evolving: Ramesh Bhat

He talks on the state of B-school education in the country and its evolution over time to meet newer challenges.


NMIMS’s School of Business Management (SBM) provides holistic management education. The rigorous curriculum and innovative programmes offered by the school set it apart from other B-schools. The college aims to build leadership capabilities of students using case-based learning, simulations and live projects. RAMESH BHAT, Dean, SBM at NMIMS talks to BW Businessworld’s PRIYA SARAF on the state of B-school education in the country and its evolution over time to meet newer challenges.

Why should students choose your school?

The School of Business Management, NMIMS University provides holistic management education. The learning processes created by the school are at par with the best in India and benchmarked with comparable peer schools across the world. It is one of the seven B-schools in India to be accredited by AACSB International (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), the world’s premier accreditation agency for business education. Others similarly accredited include IIM-C, ISB Hyderabad, TAPMI, IMT Ghaziabad, XLRI Jamshedpur and IFIM Bangalore. By virtue of this affiliation, SBM also joins a select 817 schools from 53 countries which puts it in the top 5 per cent schools worldwide. This accreditation has also helped the school to strengthen the global connect for the MBA programme, providing higher exposure to international immersion and global careers. SBM ensures the best learning ecosystem with its dedicated faculty, innovative approaches to pedagogy, focus on curriculum which helps harness leadership skills leading to development of socially responsible managers with a global perspective. The rigorous curriculum and innovative programmes set the school apart, making it a preferred hunting ground for corporates to recruit professionals. Starting with the orientation programme, the course aims to build leadership capabilities in students using case-based learning, simulations and live projects. The school provides the best learning experience to students through engagement in activities managed and organized by various student cells. The students also get exposure to other schools and opportunity for inter-disciplinary courses. Another big advantage is the exposure to work in India’s business capital and opportunity to interact with professionals almost every day through a robust industry interface created by SBM across industries.

An AIMA vision document says that India should be the second best global hub after the US for B-school education by 2025. Is it doable?

Certainly yes, it is doable. Business schools are strengthening their quality and global orientation and tie-ups. Regulatory reforms from the government are opening doors for collaborative knowledge sharing and partnerships. Leading business schools are already heading for joint degree programmes and admission selection processes to have international students thereby enriching the learning process for MBA aspirants. Research collaborations of several business schools with international partners is paving the way for making India part of the global network. The global recognition of Indian business schools in future would make the country an important destination for business education.

Why do top Indian B-schools not figure in the top global B-school lists?

Top Indian business schools have the quality parameters well in place that are comparable to their global peers. There are certain entry barriers to global ranking. For example, Indian business schools have enough diversity due to students coming from 27 highly diversified cultures. But for global business school ranking agencies an important criteria is international students. Indian business schools perform poorly on this parameter. Another reason is lack of international accreditations.

How ready are Indian B-schools for Industrial Revolution 4.0?
The top Indian B-schools are ready to cope with challenges emerging from IR 4.0. Many business schools are in the process of revamping the curriculum to align it with the new skills required for using machine language strategically, interoperability and communicating through IoTs, simulating and virtualisation of real situations, developing, designing and implementing real-time capabilities, ability to adapt to new situations using modular approaches, among other things. Business schools are also introducing AI and machine learning to enhance the learning and bridge the gaps in classroom learning and making students job-ready.

With entry-level jobs shrinking due to AI and automation, what plans do Indian B-schools have to place their graduates?

With the revamp of curriculum, business schools are focusing on helping the students to develop skills of strategic thinking aimed at using these new technologies and how they create value.

What measures are Indian B-schools taking to create entrepreneurs instead of just job-seekers? What percentage of B-school graduates turn to entrepreneurship at the outset?
This question is not new and the trend has not changed over the years. A very small percentage of students opt for entrepreneurship. Over the years business schools are adopting strategies to influence this trend. For example, some business schools have taken a conscious decision to set-up a separate centre/school to offer MBA in entrepreneurship and family business programme. Many business schools are initiating innovative programmes to impart entrepreneurship courses for working entrepreneurs. Similarly, setting-up of incubation centres with private capital and government support helps to create an ecosystem for fostering entrepreneurship.

Why do top Indian B-schools restrict the class size to 60 or 120 when the global average is much larger? 

I think this is changing. Class sizes these days are very dynamic and based on purpose, pedagogy and intensity of skill-development requirement. For example, for communications and negotiations class, a class size of up to 30 students is considered optimal, whereas for some information-based or issue-based sessions a larger class is preferred. Technology is also playing an important role is removing the barrier to class size. Pedagogy also plays an important role in deciding what should be the optimal size of class. Business schools in India are evolving and class size requirements will evolve with technology, pedagogy and skill-development focus of courses.

Who do Indian B-school faculty members not publish as frequently as their international peers?

Among the global business schools research and publications is mainly from the doctoral programme and funded research projects. In India, availability of funds to pursue research is not available. Not many companies provide support for research in business schools. Barring older IIMs, research in many business schools is in incipient stages. As the number of Ph.D thesis emanating from business schools grow, the publication record will also improve. In that respect, business schools in India have started their doctoral programmes recently and research and their publications are likely to grow in future. We will find more research contribution from business schools from India in the next ten years. The research agenda which blends the teaching and learning process has currency and relevance of content across courses is increasing day by day.

Why do Indian B-schools not tailor their curriculum to meet local needs? Why is there always a ‘one size fits all’ approach?

This is changing and many business schools are incorporating and revamping their curriculum to adapt to local needs. For example, through local case studies faculty discuss local business practices such as parta system of finance, unique business practices, leadership based on Indian spirituality, learning from various human resource practices of entrepreneurial firms, among other things.

What more should Indian B-schools do to create leaders, and not just followers?

Indian B-schools must look at alignment of all their goals with the school’s mission and scrutinise their purpose and decide their contribution to the development of managerial talent.

How different are women B-school graduates from their male counterparts, as their numbers remain abysmally low?

We need data to substantiate this viewpoint. If you look at data from the last five years, girls are going for higher education in large numbers. SBM as a matter of policy has mandated that 30 per cent of the seats will be for female students thereby contributing to the development of women managers.

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