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Push From Within

A few pointers for B-schools on how they can improve outcomes

A new phenomena has taken shape recently - top-rated B-schools are spreading their wings rapidly while many at the bottom are finding it difficult to sustain. In five decades (1961-2009), seven Indian Institutes of Management, or IIMs, were set up in the country. The current decade (2010-19) has witnessed establishment of 13 new IIMs. Similarly, other top rated B-schools have opened multiple campuses. This has impacted the rankings of mid-rung B-schools. Many are concerned. As part of the ranking exercise, we physically audit a good number of B-schools. During a recent visit to a B-school, the director raised a concern: "Despite all our efforts, our rank is not improving and we are nowhere near the top-rated B-schools. What can we do?" After interacting with a few faculty members, staff and students, here are a few suggestions that could help.

1. 100% Residential Campus: The institute was beautifully located in the city and had excellent transport services for students and faculty. However, students did not have the kind of bonding they could have and were missing out on the enriching experience of working together during demanding situations. In real life, a corporate executive is expected to work in teams and deliver on tight deadlines. Therefore, it is essential that they learn and practice the same inside campuses. This is a major distinguisher in transforming students.

2. Extended library hours and high quality subscriptions: The library timings were 8.30 am-5.00 pm. Students must have the option of using library during late evenings and early mornings. It is also important to subscribe to enough number of national and international business dailies/magazines and leading newspapers.

3. Residential facilities for faculty: None of the faculty members were living on the campus. It is important to have strong faculty-student connect when students need them during tight deadlines. Residential facilities also have the potential of attracting better faculty. It also helps the faculty come out with better research outputs.

4. Real-world Problem Solving: I asked a few students what were top problems of the district. They had blank faces. It is important that management students identify some real-life problems - not necessarily business problems - and connect with them. The suggestion to them was to talk to local MP/ MLA/ Mayor or even DM and ask for funds to solve such problems. It will make them realise how money works in the real world.

5. Money Management: After talking to some finance students, I was certain that most of them in future would be selling financial products as they lacked real financial knowledge. It should be mandatory for all students to invest some money in stocks and keep track of their portfolio's performance. No theory class can be complete without such experiential learning.

6. More analytics: After looking at the curriculum, I suggested incorporation of more analytics (both theory and hands-on learning) as this is the future of work across domains and functions.

7. Accreditation: My next suggestion was to take NAAC/NBA accreditation and later apply for a reputed global accreditation such as AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS. This will help in benchmarking with the best and ensure systematic improvement.

Abhishek Agrawal is ED of MDRA (Marketing & Development Research Associates) and an education enthusiast.