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Asish K Bhattacharyya

The author is Director, IMT Ghaziabad

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The Rush For World-Class Tag

While some government B-schools, like first-generation IIMs, should strive to secure a position among the top 100 universities in the global ranking, private B-schools should first ponder on what ‘world-class’ mean?

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B schools are competing to be included among the top 100 universities ranked by international ranking agencies. Hype is created by the central government’s ambitious target to get 20 Indian universities in the global ranking in ten years and AICTE’s decision to classify a B-school as category 1 for graded autonomy if it is ranked among the top 100 in a global ranking, even if it fails to meet any other criterion. QS ranking, which is one of the respected global rankings, has started publishing the ranking of Indian universities separately. 

A university is generally perceived to be ‘world-class’ if it is bracketed with the top 100 universities in an international ranking. B-schools work with resource constraints. The madness to get included in the list of the top 100 global universities might, therefore, lead to disaster, as available resources will be misallocated in chasing the mirage.  Some may give the example of Chinese universities, which occupy respectable positions in international rankings. We must appreciate the fact that Chinese universities have achieved this feat with significant government support. Some B-schools can achieve what Chinese universities have, with government support, including financial support, without infringing on their autonomy. While some government B-schools, like first-generation IIMs, should strive to secure a position among the top 100 universities in the global ranking, private B-schools should move cautiously.

Private B-schools should take a pause and ponder on what ‘world-class’ means. It is time to replace ‘outcome’ as the performance measurement metric by ‘impact’. Indian B-schools should positively impact the long-term professional career and personal life of their graduates, the management practices of companies operating in India and society in general. They should benchmark their performance with that of Ivy League B-schools of the USA, which still hold top positions in international B-school ranking. Benchmarking is possible only through some degree of internationalisation that can be achieved through collaboration with a highly rated international B-school. The B-school should nurture the partnership carefully and develop the relationship to a level where it gets active support in all its endeavours. 

The partnership should benefit the B-school in building internal capacity in teaching (pedagogy), research and academic administration. It should help the faculty network with accomplished researchers and induce them to participate in India-centric research that impacts the Indian economy and society. These benefits do not accrue when the partnership is for the limited purpose of offering a joint diploma.  Internationalisation is also achieved through faculty and student exchange programmes with international universities and brief visits of reputed international faculty. It is also a good idea to not compromise quality when admitting international students. However, managing their learnings requires tweaking the pedagogy to suit their learning culture based on their previous learning experience. They require special attention. 

B-schools aspiring to be among the top 100 international universities, measure faculty performance against parameters used by international ranking agencies. The attention and time of the faculty, therefore, get misallocated. Often, they end up publishing papers in the thousands of B and C category international journals. B-schools should focus on becoming  ‘world-class’ in its impact on the Indian economy and society. They should not invest resources to acquire the ‘global’ tag for its ornamental value.    

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