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BW Businessworld

Topline Growth

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Management education in India is at a crossroads. On the one hand, six new Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) have somewhat satiated the growing demand for more seats at India’s premier management institutes; on the other, the mushrooming of over 3,600 B-schools has created around 400,000 seats that the institutes are now struggling to fill. While the IIMs continue to set new benchmarks in management education, many B-schools are churning out thousands of what the industry calls “unemployable MBAs”.

The IIM ecosystem has had such a salutary impact on India’s education that most new management universities yearn to acquire the reputation of an IIM. These institutes not only improve the quality of education and raise the bar for peers, they also indirectly develop the smaller towns where they are located. The six new IIMs founded in 2010 and 2011 were all set up in smaller cities — Tiruchirappalli, Ranchi, Kashipur, Udaipur, Raipur and Rohtak. Indore and Kozhikode, which also have IIMs, are flourishing as are the two institutes that have steadily risen in the rankings to now figure among the Top 10 consistently.

How can the fledgling B-schools move up the value chain? The answer lies in mentoring. Some of the new IIMs, such as the ones at Tiruchirappalli, Ranchi and Kashipur, are being hand-held by IIMs Bangalore, Calcutta and Lucknow, respectively, in terms of faculty training and curriculum design. The established IIMs, too, were at one point mentored by top foreign institutes like the Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management.
STEADY SHOW: XLRI has moved up a spot to No. 2
Perhaps, the 13 IIMs, too, must mentor at least a few new B-schools. Other well established schools such as the Faculty of Management (FMS), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) and Indian School of Business (ISB) could also join hands to mentor some deserving institutes.

Apart from improving the quality of management education, this will also discourage fly-by-night institutes. Over a period of time, this could have a cascading effect on the country’s B-school system.

More importantly, it will produce students whom the industry considers employable. This year, more than 300,000 students will pass out of management schools in India, thanks to the number of B-schools having grown from 1,132 in 2006 to 3,644 in 2012.

Experts say that this unprecedented increase in the intake capacity of management schools is creating a bubble. And, that a widening demand-supply gap pressures a student from a mid- to lower-level B-school to settle for a job that an undergraduate would get. Such a situation is neither good for industry nor for B-school students.

New Times, New Strategies
One way out is to promote entrepreneurship. While some of the top B-schools have on-campus incubators, others do not. Students’ mindset, too,  has to change from just getting fat salaries to creating the next Infosys. 

However, none of this should come in the way of encouraging healthy competition amongst B-schools. A tight race will ensure that even the older schools are on their toes.

The BW-Ipsos survey of India’s best B-schools is meant to help you pick the school of your choice. The objective survey gives you precise ways of measuring the performance of 123 B-schools this year. The perceptual survey captures the perceptions of people about B-schools.

This year, the top three spots of the objective survey are occupied by IIM Ahmedabad; XLRI, Jamshedpur; and Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi — a mild shift from last year. With IIM Calcutta and IIM Bangalore refraining from participating due to their policy of not sharing specific placement details, XLRI Jamshedpur has jumped up a spot, and FMS two.

IIM A tops the rankings in fields such as industry interaction and intellectual capital, while FMS Delhi tops in placements (thanks to a higher return on investment). Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, IIT Mumbai, scored the highest in infrastructure, and IIM B topped the pedagogy rankings.

Among the Top 20, IIM-Indore jumped four spots from last year to No. 8 and Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management from 13 to 10. The new entrant among the Top 20 is NIILM-Centre for Management Studies, Greater Noida. 

The big movers owe their success in large measure to the emphasis on increased focus on research, greater interface with industry and improvement in infrastructure.

The perceptual survey holds no surprises. Opinions of recruiters, parents and students remain the same as last year — IIMs Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta continue to hold the top three spots. IIM Lucknow enters at No. 4, pushing IIM Indore down to No. 5 and ISB to No. 6.

There are a few prominent institutes that are missing from this year’s rankings. These either did not send their questionnaires and documents before the deadline or supplied inadequate data. IIM Calcutta, IIM Bangalore, Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management, Hyderabad, and Institute of Advanced Management and Research, Ghaziabad did not share complete data. While others, such as ISB, IIM Lucknow and IIM Shillong, did not participate.  

Forward Looking
One of the biggest trends in B-schools in the past couple of years has been the growing demand for specialised courses. With more than 3,500 B-schools turning out students, it is essential that students differentiate themselves. Moreover, companies want to hire students who are skilled in a definite area of work.

In tandem with specialised courses is the trend of taking in students from diverse backgrounds. So, this is the best time for MBA aspirants from backgrounds other than engineering to apply. B-schools are giving special weightage (officially or unofficially) to such students to change the mix that is even now dominated by engineers. Women applicants, too, have an edge while applying.

Students who are passing out now will need that edge as the placement season was gloomier than usual. The IIMs, too, were not spared. Apart from fewer job offers, the salaries, too, were below expectations. Hope came from startups, and companies looking to hire more women.

Read more about this in our columns. Rashmi Bansal talks about the growing presence of women in B-schools and corporates. Sahil Barua talks about how he had to unlearn a lot of what he was taught at B-school when he decided to run his own startup. Albinder Dhindsa reveals why he left Columbia Business School mid-way.


(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 15-07-2013)