Business Today

MBAs that matter

At last count, there were more than 1,400 regulated business schools (B-schools) in India. If that number looks suspiciously big, it’s because more than 95 per cent of them don’t really matter. Why the number of B-schools is growing and why almost all of them continue to be in business is explained by a growing demand for management education in the country.

     Print Edition: July 13, 2008

At last count, there were more than 1,400 regulated business schools (B-schools) in India. If that number looks suspiciously big, it’s because more than 95 per cent of them don’t really matter. Why the number of B-schools is growing and why almost all of them continue to be in business is explained by a growing demand for management education in the country.

Like in other parts of the world, an MBA degree is often seen as a ticket to lucrative corporate jobs. Nothing wrong with it (although, it is debatable if the focus of an education programme should be on higher salaries rather than on, say, imparting meaningful skills), except that most MBAs that pass out of such schools are hardly ready-to-use managers.

Class of IIM-A: Few will return as teachers
Few of IIM-A students will return as teachers
Don’t blame the students, though. The state of management education in the country points to a larger problem: the system that governs education—and not just management education—is broken. Take accreditation of business schools, to begin with.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is the approving authority for all technical programmes, including MBAs, in the country. On paper, AICTE has elaborate guidelines on how institutes of technical education in the country must be run, but in reality, its workings are pretty whimsical, to put it mildly. There are specific requirements in terms of the physical size of an institute and faculty-student ratio. However, the fact that the quality of education drops precipitously after the top 50 institutions suggests that AICTE’s scrutiny isn’t good enough.

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The single-biggest problem facing the majority of Bschools is the lack of quality faculty. There just aren’t enough teachers of management around; most of those who do their MBAs or fellowships in management, end up in corporate jobs rather than on B-school campuses as teachers. After all, young managers make more money than even seasoned faculty at most business schools.

Given that a growing economy needs thousands of managers for sectors ranging from agriculture to services to manufacturing, the country has no choice but to ensure that many more B-schools become institutions of quality learning. Stricter enforcement of regulatory norms, better salaries for faculty, cheaper and more abundant loans for education, and certification of industry practitioners interested in teaching are some ways in which this problem can be addressed. But that requires concerted efforts of all the stakeholders concerned—governments, B-schools, banks and industry. Nothing less will do.

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