Responsibility of improving MBA education in India lies with corporate leaders

Chasing demand from the industry, several management schools sprung up in the country in the last 20 years. But today, there are many that fail to fill up seats for their programs

Bhavna Dalal
Updated: Aug 22, 2017 09:10:12 AM UTC
Internships are a popular way for students to get comfortable with the work culture Image: Shutterstock

Management education in India has existed since the establishment of the Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), starting with the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta on November 13, 1961. However, management education as a fad began spreading like wildfire when the top management colleges in India started attracting multi-national organisations offering huge remuneration to the fresh-out-of-college students. It came with a promise of greater career growth, wider horizons and a larger perspective of the business world. The need for these colleges was fuelled by the demand from the industry. Especially today, recruitment continues to rely heavily on these schools to fill jobs foreseen by the potential growth in the country due to globalisation and various government reforms.

Chasing this trend and the anticipated future demand, several B-schools have sprouted in the last two decades. A large number of them, however, have found it difficult to fill complete intake capacity. Based on the list of the top ranking MBA colleges in India by a platform that connects students and colleges in India, there are about 2,986 reputable and credited MBA colleges in India; two thousand of which have empty MBA or PGDM seats. The interest of applicants is dwindling inspite of heavy spending on advertisements, seminars, education fairs, etc. because only a few of these schools truly provide the education that makes students industry ready.

What our MBA schools lack is not enough industry exposure. There is a major gap between academia and the actual work environment. Taking it further, these colleges must aspire to grow into research facilities in specific areas. The onus lies on the senior leadership teams of organisations, especially ones with more than 2,500 employees, looking to grow even further. These leaders must take on the responsibility of grooming MBA students by giving talks and running workshops while they are in their final year so that they can hit the ground running. It is also a good opportunity for students to start consolidating their network. Companies these days have a very elaborate campus to conduct corporate programs to try and enable this. Some management schools have this process in place too. But all the current measures are not rigorous enough; there's more work needed in this area. Internships are a popular way for students to get comfortable with the work culture. The best way to learn is on the job. Companies must find more avenues like competitions and events to bring in students to expose them to the work environment.

Another requirement is for MBA education to be more context specific. There is a demand for acute specialisation. Agreed, over the years, the generic MBA has morphed into specialised programs like Finance and Marketing driven by the managerial hierarchy developing in the banking sector. FMCG companies' need for highly-capable marketing managers created the traction specialisations in marketing education. The emphasis has been shifting to International Business, Human Resources, Operations and Supply Chain to other relevant areas like Business Analytics, Digital Marketing, Risk Management, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, among others.

MBA colleges also need to tighten their enrollment process. Instead of operating like money-making machines, taking in well-deserving, committed and dedicated students will help the schools earn a good name in the long run. The curriculum needs to be modified to encourage self-motivation and inspire the students to do better. Meanwhile, global online MBA programs have made world class education accessible. The most intriguing part about online programs and institutes offering market relevant programs is that they generally have tie-ups with industry players offering higher chances of employability to the students. It is a win-win situation for both, the colleges and the students. The recurring cost of delivering the courses is also lower since the expenses for infrastructure and facilities are marginal. The prospects of getting the necessary expertise, prowess and mastery in a particular field as well as the guarantee of getting a job at the end of it, without huge investment is what makes these programs attractive.

For MBA colleges to survive and thrive they will have to focus on preparing their students for the workforce and for this they must actively solicit help from the ecosystem that it is providing talent to.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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