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Education and employability - a paradox?

A Google survey indicates the rise in aspiration among the youth in India for higher education. But another study by MeritTrac-MBAUniverse suggests that the quality of education at many Indian B-schools falls short of recruiters' standards.

Dearton Thomas Hector        Last Updated: August 17, 2012  | 16:25 IST

Dearton Thomas Hector
Dearton Thomas Hector
This is a tale of two surveys which came out recently. One was by Google India, on education-related queries on Google Search. The other was a study conducted by MeritTrac is a testing and assessment company, and is a portal for B-school aspirants. Their study focused on the employability of MBA graduates of more than 100 B-schools in 29 cities, excluding the top 25 schools.

According to the Google India survey, titled "Students on the Web", India occupies the second spot globally in terms of the volume of education-related queries on Google Search. It ranked eighth in 2008, and is now behind only the US.

The study combined Google Search query patterns and an offline research conducted by TNS Australia for Google India. It revealed that more than 60 per cent of Indian students with Internet access use Google as their first source to research courses and institutes.

Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director of Google India, said in a statement: "Our core objective behind compiling this study was to understand the impact the Internet is having on this young population with regard to education-related decision making by students. With more and more users getting online every day, the Internet today is the biggest catchment area for youth and we hope this study will help advertisers realise the potential of the digital medium."

The Google survey may indicate the rise in aspiration among the youth for higher education. But there seems to be a clear message to the advertisers too.

"This is clearly a business generation activity," says Paritosh Sharma, a new media expert and Head, Marketing Innovation, Messaging, for Bharti SoftBank, a mobile Internet company. "Advertisers from the education sector will want to increase their media spend on Google. This is an intelligent way of marketing yourself. It is a sales and marketing pitch with logical numbers but it is alright."

The study by MeritTrac-MBAUniverse suggests that the quality of education at many Indian B-schools falls short of recruiters' standards. The survey, which looked at the marks secured by 2,264 MBAs who sat for tests administered by recruiting companies, found that only 21 per cent made the grade. A 2007 study by MeritTrac had put the employability index at 25 per cent.

Should we take these surveys at face value?

"They (MeritTrac) haven't mentioned what level B-schools they have selected as the sample," says Himanshu Rai, faculty member at IIM-Lucknow. "They seem to have put all of them in a single pool. What if they have picked the bottom hundred?"

But education experts have little doubt that there are serious gaps in our education system. "There is a lack of quality among many B-schools in India because of the propensity to commercialise," says Sridhar Rajagopalan, Founder and Managing Director of Educational Initiatives, a research company. "There is a huge gap between employability and the demand."

Most searched institutes in India (Google Search from January through June, 2012 - desktop and mobile)

 Most searched private institutes

 Most searched IIMs

 Most searched IITs

 1.    Sikkim Manipal

2.    Amity

3.    Nirma

4.    Lovely Professional

5.    Sharda University

 1.    IIM Ahmedabad

2.    IIM Bangalore

3.    IIM Indore

4.    IIM Calcutta

5.    IIM Kozhikode

 1.    IIT Delhi

2.    IIT Chennai

3.    IIT Kharagpur

4.    IIT Roorkee

5.    IIT Kanpur

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