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BW Businessworld

Close B-Schools That Churn Out Unemployable Graduates: Asish Bhattacharyya, Director, IMTG

Business schools should engage more with industry to be in step with their changing needs, opines Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad (IMTG) Director Asish Bhattacharyya, even as he reposes faith in the acumen of top rung management institutions in the country. To facilitate the business schools in the country to reach their full potential, he tells BW Businessworld in an interview that the regulator AICTE should refrain from micro-managing them. Excerpts:

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How do you look at the postgraduate management education / B-school ecosystem in the country today?
There is a mushrooming of B-Schools. Only around 65 per cent of the management graduates are employable. This does not augur well for the B-school eco-system in the country. However, the recent initiative to persuade every B-school to get NBA accreditation will weed out poor performers. 

Companies find management education in India useful as is evident from campus placements of respected B-schools. However, B-schools have to quickly reorient themselves to prepare students for future jobs arising out of disruption being created by mega-events. They need to offer innovative courses and adopt appropriate pedagogy. 

Are we creating enough potential leaders or are the B-schools simply churning out job seekers?
Top rung B-schools are producing leaders. Leaders are required at every level in the corporate hierarchy. Demand for management graduates from these B-schools show that companies create a pipeline for top leadership from Indian B-school graduates. 

The sudden euphoria to appoint expatriates as CEOs has slowed down as it did not work out well. 

Now companies are looking for Indian management graduates for the position of CEO. Many Indian management graduates occupy senior management positions in MNC’s. Moreover, a large number of successful startups are promoted by Indian management graduates. 

Even after all these reforms, why have the Indian business schools failed to compete with the world’s best business schools?

The world’s best B-schools have had a research culture for long, which is new in India. Therefore, the research output of  Indian B-schools cannot match that of the world’s best B-schools. Similarly, Indian B-schools are unable to attract international students. 

These are the two important parameters being used by international ranking agencies. Indian B-schools work with resource constraints and find it difficult to invest in building research capabilities through Faculty Development Programmes. 

Top-rung Indian B-schools have the potential to catch up with the world’s top B-schools with financial and other support from the government. However, it will take time. 

Why do we fail to regularly update and overhaul the curriculum in keeping with industry needs?

I do not agree with this perception. 

How do we make sure that the faculty is equally at home with theory and practice? 

Faculty members of Indian B-schools develop case studies and deliver executive education programmes. In this process, they get engaged with industry and update themselves with industry practices. 

However, this is inadequate. More intensive engagement is required. Companies should allow B-school faculty members to work with executives as interns to analyse current challenges and provide solutions to support executive decisions. 

Technology is evolving so fast that it’s difficult to predict what would happen one year down the line. How do the B-schools prepare for such a scenario?

B-schools should engage with the industry to understand how technology is impacting the business. Usually, B-schools invite experts, who advise corporates on how to leverage on technological advances to deliver courses jointly with a regular faculty member to enable the regular faculty member to upgrade his or her skills and knowledge.

B-schools are setting up technology labs to provide hands-on experience on the latest software and programming languages. The Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad (IMTG) has incorporated courses on analytics in each functional area. 

In India, the IIMs, and a few other top B-schools are progressing well, but the others churn out graduates who are hardly employable. What’s the way out?
Close B-schools that churn out unemployable graduates. Regulators should act firmly. 

How often do you inspire your alumni to come back and teach at their alma mater? We invite our alumni, who hold senior positions, to deliver lectures. 

How often do you inspire them to contribute funds to their alma mater?
We are yet to start a campaign to raise funds from the alumni. 

What more do you expect from the regulator, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the government?

It is good that the All India Council for Technical Education has introduced graded autonomy. However, the AICTE should allow more academic freedom to all B-schools. 

The one-size-fits-all approach compels B-schools to invest in resources that do not match their current strategy. This results in a waste of resources. The AICTE should not get involved in the micro-management of B-schools.

How has the role of the B-school director evolved and how crucial is it in turning a B-school into a leading global institution?

The director is the CEO, and his role is no different from that of the CEO of a company. Like business, management education is facing disruptions from technological innovation, changing expectations of students, recruiters and faculty, and tension between placement and academics. Therefore, the director has to manage the transition.

The director is also responsible for boundary spanning and compliance with regulatory requirements. It is his/her responsibility to build capabilities and attract and retain talent due to a shortage of talent in the market. 

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