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BW Businessworld

Pedigree, Perception And Placements

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Most companies go to a B-school to hire the candidate who got in rather than the one who is passing out,” says Dony Kuriakose, director, EDGE Executive Search. It’s a bit of a loaded statement — perhaps both an indictment of how useful a B-school education is as well as praise for the rigours of the admission procedure. The school, that is tough to get into, has already done such a thorough job of shortlisting that the recruiting company is happy to accept anyone who got in.

“Typically, recruiters (visiting a B-school) look at input quality and rigour in admissions, apart from the quality of faculty and the exposure levels of students,” says K. Sudarshan, managing partner, EMA Partners International, an executive search firm.

So, that’s where the industry is coming from. As far as students are concerned, many of those entering a B-school already possess the attributes needed to succeed — confidence, entrepreneurial spirit, and curiosity — even before they begin their course. All they need is a pedigree — an IIM, Wharton or Harvard — in their CVs for  doors of companies to open automatically for them.

This is why we at BW|Businessworld believe B-school rankings are so important. An exercise we conduct every year. However, is pedigree enough? Faculty, research, infrastructure, placements — what about them? As the number of students aspiring to get a management degree rises exponentially, and institutes mushroom all over the country — many of them with interesting new models — it becomes necessary to find out what the emerging big brands in B-school education are. The ones that can give the established IIMs a run for their money. It also enables us to do a check on whether the established institutions are keeping pace with the changes.

Old Versus New
We have increased the number of institutes ranked from last year’s 123 to 166 this year. Some of the new entrants in this year’s list include IIM Calcutta; Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur; Indian Institute of Management Shillong; Institute of Rural Management Anand; National Institute of Technology, Trichy; IIM Ranchi; and Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. Several institutes from tier-II cities like Noida, Pune, Jaipur, Meerut, Madurai, Kochi, Ghaziabad and Ranchi have improved their rankings this time.

While the old institutes expectedly scored well on parameters like intellectual capital and industry interface, surprisingly, some of the new institutes, particularly the private ones, have outperformed them on parameters like infrastructure and pedagogy. Massive open online courses (MOOC) have emerged as a disruptive new force that could threaten the old order. As Anant Agarwal, chief executive officer, edX says: “The number of students applying for admission to universities is growing at a much faster rate than the capacity of the country to create seats for them. Online learning can satisfy this demand.”

The other disruptor in B-school education is the diversity factor. The whole admission process (high weightage is given to this by industry) is changing because of the diversity imperative. Companies want B-schools to admit more non-engineers and more women (see story on page 92), and several institutes are striving to do so.

We had to factor in all these exciting disruptions while conducting our survey. So, our evaluation process not only factored in traditional parameters like pedagogy, infrastructure and placements, but also gave considerable weightage to factors like student exchange programmes, faculty exchange programmes, policy against plagiarism in projects/assignments/dissertations and soft skill development programmes.

Most new IIMs have scored low in infrastructure because of their location in non-metros and ‘temporary’ campuses. Institutes like International Management Institute, New Delhi, and Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, have jumped in the rankings on the strength of their intellectual capital.

Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai — a choice of many aspirants, especially in Maharashtra — scored low because of fewer industrial/corporate visits and permanent faculty members on campus. Even some of the new IIMs scored low because of similar factors. We have a detailed article on why the new IIMs are no chips of the old block (see story on page 104). And yet, at the same time, when we talked to industry professionals — from many of the companies that visit campuses to recruit students — we realised that perceptions matter. Also, when it comes to placements, the increasing trend of specialisation means that several B-schools have managed to create their niches in a particular domain, be it Finance, HR, Marketing or Strategy — and companies tend to go where their need lies.

Two-step Methodology
This year, for the first time, the B-school rankings are the product of a two-step methodology, incorporating an objective as well as a perceptual survey. In the first stage, research firm Ipsos collated the data submitted by all institutes across the five major parameters and created an objective ranking of the institutes.

In the second stage, the top half of the institutes ranked by the research agency were presented for a perceptual survey to CEOs, prominent HR professionals, educationists, head hunters and BW’s senior editors. The final score has a 20 per cent perceptual weightage to the objective scores. The reason we gave so much weightage to perceptual scores was also because of the anomalies we found in the data submitted by many institutes. For instance, while most institutes claimed high figures for papers published in journals, few sent proof of the same. On secondary validations too, most numbers differed.

Last but not the least, we have given a fairly high weightage to placements — a crucial factor that an aspirant considers while choosing an institute. Over the past few years, on account of recession, placements have been badly affected. But while placements are crucial, it is also important to look at leadership skills that these graduates attain at the institutes. The story on Advantage Startups (on page 98) looks at how the country’s successive recessions have created entrepreneurs and job-creators rather than job-seekers.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 01-12-2014)