There are only about 20-odd international students in the top ten B-Schools in India. Not surprisingly, Indian B-Schools are pulling out all stops to secure global recognition for their brands. And that comes in the form of acquiring global accreditation.
In the universe of business management, accreditations from only three organisations really count - the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and the European Foundation for Management Development Quality Improvement System (EQUIS EFMD).
The Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, is the only one that has secured the 'triple crown'. All the other top-ranked B-Schools in India are trying too, but have only managed one or two of the three accreditations.
Ask the Founder and Dean of the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, Dr. Bala V. Balachandran, why there are hardly any foreign students in India's top business schools and pat comes the reply - "Are IIMs globally respected institutions?" The octogenarian Professor Emeritus at the Kellogg School of Business Management, Illinois, does have a point.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)'s data suggests that though there are about 3,644 approved business schools in India, hardly any of them figure in global rankings. No wonder, they're not able to attract students from other countries.
How do the accreditations help? "Accreditations are an objective method to get feedback. They help you look at your performance in the international perspective. We get to know what is needed for recognition in the global landscape," says Professor Chandra P. Shrimali, the Acting Director of the Management Development Institute, Gurugram. MDI has AMBA accreditation and is working towards the other two.
The Dean, New Initiatives, and External Relations at IIM Calcutta, Professor Uttam K. Sarkar, concurs. "In the past five to six years, we have been aggressive about improving our presence and branding in the international arena..one way has been through securing accreditations".
Unlike domestic systems of accreditation that are input driven - Indian standardisation processes rely heavily on infrastructure, facilities, and faculty strength - global accreditations are output oriented. That is, B-Schools are judged on performance and their ability to achieve their own pre-determined goals. Though infrastructure and facilities do have a role to play, global accreditations do not use these as the sole criteria.
The race for global accreditations is a win-win situation, according to the Member Secretary of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management's academic advisory body, Professor Alok Pandey. "To get these accreditations, B-Schools become output oriented and begin looking at what to generate," he says.
The Director of the T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal, Madhu Veeraraghavan, says global diversity on campus is an essential part of management studies. And to attract students from other nations, the accreditation is a must-have. "Global ranking is not that easy to get. You need to have outstanding academic research and many business schools in India don't prioritise quality academic research," he says. TAPMI has the AACSB accreditation.
The parameters for global accreditation include but are not restricted to, placements, overall student performances, alumni, diversity in student intake, research achievements of faculty members and social responsibility.
As a result, almost all the B-Schools in India are working towards improvements in these areas. That, however, hasn't helped them beat the diversity challenge. Dr Balachandran says it is a difficult situation. "We are a sub-continent in ourselves. Unlike a B-School in Belgium, for instance where even 80 per cent of the student body may come from Western Europe, in India, this will not take place," he says.
The Indian education sector's collective failure in selling itself in global academics is a known fact, and the economy does not offer lucrative prospects for those foreigners who would want to stay on in India after studying here.
Terming this a vicious cycle, Partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, Anindya Mallick, sums up the situation saying: "Recognition from industry may come when corporates come for placements to our campuses, but the youth will come only when we have the global rankings. And the globing rankings depend on how much diversity there is on the campus".