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BW Businessworld

In Pursuit Of The Global Tag

Indian B-schools need to bring about substantial changes if they want to be recognised beyond its borders

Photo Credit : Mayur Bhatt

Imagine what it could mean to our nation if its B-schools were among the most sought after in the international community of students? India would certainly figure among the most attractive places for businesses with good career prospects for students. But alas, only less than a handful figure in the global top rankings for B-schools.

Sample this: in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2016, only three Indian B-schools figured in the list of 5,000-plus institutes in India. The B-Schools that made the cut are IIM Ahmedabad (24), ISB Hyderabad (29) and IIM Bangalore (62).

Structural Constraints For some time now, Indian B-schools have been struggling to get international students to come and study in their campuses — an important step if they want to be internationally accepted. However, they fall behind on several parameters to be accepted globally. Chief among them are curriculum, faculty and the process of conferring diplomas, and not degrees, which is the international norm. In India, at the moment in some of the top Indian B-schools, there are hardly about a dozen international students.

Pankaj Chandra, vice chancellor, Ahmedabad University and formerly associated with IIM-A says, “Some of the programmes are still called PGDBM, and that is not good enough. Second, the material taught in the classroom has to be global, and the same is true  for faculty, to bring in different perspectives. Last, there are issues of facilities.”

One of the other issues with the internationalisation of Indian B-schools is the career prospects that many international students are seeking after completing their education. While the Indian economy is growing, foreign students are not seeing enough opportunities in the domestic economy.  

“India as a destination needs to be attractive for foreign students, and that is not happening,” says Atish Chattopadhyay, Director, IMT Ghaziabad, Delhi NCR. “The second challenge is employment, and so it becomes difficult to get international students to Indian campuses. Besides, the domestic demand for local students is huge.”

Pockets Of Opportunities Sure, Indian B-schools are trying to break into the global business education market place. For their part, nine top B-schools have formed a group to promote their schools abroad. B-schools are taking baby steps by talking about India as a destination for business and the attractiveness of Indian B-schools.

They are also getting international accreditations, an important aspect for getting globally recognised. There are three such recognitions for B-school programmes — Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Association of MBAs (AMBA) and EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). Indian B-schools have started taking these accreditations.

For instance, IIM Calcutta was awarded the EQUIS back in April 2016, and is the first Indian B-school to have achieved the ‘triple crown’ —accreditation from all the major globally recognised organisations. IIM-C has already been accredited by AACSB and AMBA in 2014.

Another Indian institute that was recently accredited by the EQUIS is the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, and re-accredited by the AACSB. “We are taking the global accreditations to get more international students. However, the process has just started and it will take a while to get international students in the country,” says Sunil Varughese, chief brand and sustainability officer, XLRI. The prestigious institute, on its part, has AACSB and AMBA accreditations.

But for many other India B-schools, there is still a long way to go. Currently there are only four institutions that are AACSB accredited, eight AMBA accredited and three EQUIS accredited. Around the world, there are 73 B-schools that are currently ‘Triple Accredited’ and out of them five are in Asia, including IIM-C.

Adapting To The New Realities Over the last few years, B-schools have been taking baby steps to carve out a niche in the global market place. On its part, the government has initiated the Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2017, which will allow Indian B-schools to award degrees instead of diplomas, apart from giving increasing autonomy to some of India’s prestigious B-schools.

B-schools, too, are aware of the value that international accreditatiions bring on the table. Some of the tangible benefits inlcude being able to attract top global faculty and some of the best students. It allows B-schools to charge a higher fee. And, in turn, it allows B-schools to break into the top global rankings list.

In the quest for going international, B-schools on their part have also started accepting GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) scores. It was ISB, Hyderabad that started accepting GMAT scores first, which was soon followed by some of the top Indian B-schools. With the acceptance of GMAT, now foreign students can also apply for admissions to Indian B-schools.

Besides, Indian B-schools are also modelling their courses on some of the programmes offered by the foreign B-schools such as the one-year MBA programme for executives and are also working towards making these courses internationally recognisable. As part of the student exchange programme, some institutes are offering Indian students to complete one semester abroad, and the rest in India. Over the course of the next few years, more Indian schools are expected to become part of such overseas exchange programmes.

Some Indian B-schools are also offering cross-border curriculums, which involves staying abroad for part of the courses. For example, IMT Ghaziabad has opened a campus in Dubai where it offers a joint course based in India and Dubai. In this course, students study for a year in Dubai and spend the next year in India. “Studying in Dubai opens up access to the whole of Europe and students find it better to get global exposure to different ideas and working cultures,” says Chattopadhyay. “Alumni also help in internationalisation because we have different alumni chapters across the world,” he adds.

XLRI, too, is working on a programme that will give an opportunity  to its students to study in three countries — India, China and Europe. Mumbai-based SP Jain School of Global Management also has a Dubai campus, which offers scores of facilities for its international students.

For the Indian students, of course, with the Indian B-school going global, it opens a plethora of choices and a broader exposure to international programmes. It will also raise the bar of Indian B-schools and help improve their rankings in the global lists.