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“Building A Culture That Prioritises Academic Excellence”

Management education requires not just quality inputs from expert faculty, but also the lived experience that teaches how to sharpen critical thinking skills day in and day out, productively collaborate with others and build a capacity to integrate and apply knowledge in real world situations. Joel Xavier, Head, Centre for Teaching and Learning, IIM Udaipur, in an interaction with BW Businessworld’s Upasana, elaborates on institute’s core mission and more. Excerpts

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How have B-schools retained their value? There is a growing trend among Indian students to seek master's degrees across disciplines from overseas campuses, but for management education, students still prefer Indian campuses. Why is this so? 

The demographic profile and intent of Indian students seeking a master’s degree abroad in disciplines other than management are very different from those seeking a master’s in management in India. In other disciplines, your probability of getting scholarships or other work opportunities is better and this help offset the high costs involved. That is not necessarily the case with a master’s in management where the fees could be much higher. Another reason is that career services facility abroad are conceptualised and implemented differently from the way (placements as is called in India) works in India. In India, most top-tier B-schools tend to place nearly 100 per cent of their graduates before convocation. According to GMAC data, this number in business schools abroad has gone up from 80 to 86 per cent last year. Usually, students are aware of this difference in career opportunities. So other than the cost factor, which is very high for management education abroad, I think these two reasons contribute in a big way to students preferring a master’s degree in management from India.

What do B-schools have to offer for the empowerment of Tier-2, Tier-3, and Tier-4 cities and towns, and rural areas?

Talking specifically about students coming from predominantly rural backgrounds, what we have observed is that there is very little difference in self-perception when we compare with those who come from an urban background. They are just as confident, self-assured, and comfortable in a B-school environment as their urban peers. While social and mainstream media may have some role to play here, in my opinion, it has also to do with the life stage at which people seek a master’s in management. Our students have typically completed 15-17 years of education and then 2-3 years of work experience. By this time, they have made up for any lack of exposure they may have had.

The institute is committed to contributing to the development of the region where we are situated. We have a number of initiatives where we engage with the local community and NGOs on various developmental initiatives in areas like education, healthcare, and livelihoods. IIM Udaipur students also participate in a rural immersion programme where they are hosted by a rural household for a week and engage deeply with the local community to understand the reality of rural India. 

The country is going through a paradigm shift in education with the National Education Policy, digital classrooms, and emphasis on entrepreneurship and skilling. How is your B-school aligning with these changing realities? 

Undoubtedly, there are some major changes sweeping across the higher education landscape, some of which are driven by the NEP, and many others were, in a way, forced due to the pandemic. To understand how these changing trends influence management education, it is important to understand that management education is complex. Industry appreciates and recruits those graduates who demonstrate that they have embodied the conceptual knowledge and show the potential to apply it. It goes far beyond picking up skills. This kind of education requires not just quality inputs from expert faculty, but also the lived experience that teaches you how to sharpen your critical thinking skills day in and day out.

What kind of faculty upgradation and exchange programmes have you undertaken?

The institute, as part of its Vision 2030, has identified two key focus areas – research and student transformation. As part of the focus on supporting student transformation, it has established the Centre for Teaching and Learning. The first objective of the centre is to support the development of teaching expertise among the faculty of IIM Udaipur so that they are able to deliver a transformational learning experience. The second objective is to enable students to become better learners by equipping them with life-long learning skills and by building a culture that prioritises academic excellence. 

How is IIM Udaipur sensitising its students on the environment and sustainability? What work is undertaken in this regard on the campus?

Environmental consciousness and ecological sustainability are a core values at IIM Udaipur. It is practiced in all aspects of student life. It is a key element of one of the six learning goals adopted by IIMU. An ESG perspective is built into all major courses through sessions and cases. The student committees and clubs managing the infrastructure and dining facilities keep regular track of energy consumption, water conservation, waste management, and other related aspects. A part of the campus at IIM Udaipur is envisioned as a biosphere featuring a protected forest for local flora and fauna. The institute recently announced a student project that will create a sustainability roadmap. 

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iim udaipur management education Magazine 19 Nov 2022