How to effectively re-orient MBA education in Indian Universities


There is a massive amount of change that should happen in the way the MBA courses are taught in most Universities in India. Not only is the syllabus totally outdated, but the MBA course is also not even a poor cousin of the PGDM course taught in the IIMs and the prestigious ISB and in the country's top thirty B-schools. This article is an attempt to identifying what is wrong with the MBA course and suggesting the urgently need to revamp the course in line with market trends and industry expectations.

Introduction

The MBA degree is awarded by some 180 Universities in India, according to those who teach the course. Except for a very few Universities like the University of Bombay and the University of Delhi, the rest of the ninety-eight percent of Indian Universities are totally cut off from current industry requirements and sort of teach the course as a mere academic course. In many cases, it is observed that the Commerce Department staff teach the course in a very academic manner. In several Universities, the case study method is not even followed. All this has spoiled the quality of the MBA education. More specifically, the reforms relate to a) Employing industry experts as Faculty Members b) Live projects in industrial organizations c) Total change of syllabus in line with the PGDM course d) Mentoring of Staff by IIM/Leading B school Faculty Members and e) Continuous training of Faculty Members through IIMs/ leading B schools.

Employing industry experts as Faculty Members

There are hundreds of talented Managers who also possess the MBA qualification with rock solid practical experience. UGC and the AICTE should amend all rules to rope in these Managers as Adjunct Faculty Members with good pay and perks. They could even be available full time, through an MOU that could be signed with specific organizations to spare their services for two years. While the University should pay the regular salary, the Faculty Member should also get ten percent of his regular remuneration from the company as an incentive. This will encourage more and more industry experts to become Adjunct Faculty Members. This will bring in the practical orientation and the case study method can become more common.

Live projects in industrial organizations

University Faculty Members who teach the MBA course often do plenty of academic research. They publish their research findings in even foreign journals. However, such research never gets them close to industry. The big idea to get them to do live projects in industry, where they could be paid some remuneration. For example, a doctorate in Management, with Finance specialization, could easily take up an exercise in Activity Based Costing. The organization also stands to gain, as this sort of activity might even bring in fresh ideas when the Faculty Member is able to see things from a new perspective. The Faculty Member could also be assisted by two second-year students, who will also gather vital real-world knowledge. It goes without saying that the Faculty Member will share vital practical knowledge with the students in the classroom.

Total change of syllabus in line with the PGDM course

This is a very urgent requirement. There are so many B-schools in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai that are superb in terms of quality. These B-schools have an updated syllabus that always takes into account the changing requirements of the industry. The Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, for instance, has a superb PGDM course that is now emerging as one that sits very competitively with those from the IIMs. The placement record is increasing year after year. The MBA syllabus should be immediately changed in a similar manner and the UGC and the AICTE should act very fast to get this done. There cannot be any more waiting periods.

To give a simple example, the University of Madras has its own MBA that is run as an autonomous course in its main campus at Chepauk, Chennai. Here, the standard of the MBA is far superior to those of the affiliated colleges in the same city, where the syllabus is totally out of tune with market realities. The industry finds that these MBA graduates are no good. Why does this happen? It happens because of lack of "exposure" in the city-affiliated colleges.

Mentoring of Staff by IIM/Leading B school Faculty Members

This could happen selectively and by Faculty Members in the same city. Since there are too many Faculty Members, it may not be so easy for the IIMs and other leading B-school Faculty Members to so easily mentor every single Faculty Member. Hence, the UGC and the AICTE should step in and identify such mentoring responsibilities. Once this is done, there will be some change. The change can be seen in terms of a new orientation. This will also possibly bridge the theory-practice gap so commonly noticed everywhere in most MBA University colleges.

Training of Faculty Members through IIMs/ leading B schools

There are so many IIMs that conduct fairly good Faculty Development Programs. While these training programs also do make some difference, there is much more that needs to be done. For instance, there could be a kind of online education that could become compulsory for all Faculty Members. There should also be a sort of good orientation in terms of emerging industry needs and new management practices. For example, there are so many examples of what is called Blue Ocean Strategy, even in India.

The concept of Blue Ocen Strategy is simple. Some intelligent organizations go in for what is an untested market and try to get a market share in the same market. For example, when the competition for shampoos packed in sachets increased by leaps and bounds in the chemical-based category, Cavinkare from Chennai brought out a totally new shampoo with a herbal base. This cornered a good market share and ate into the market share of the chemical based shampoos. After building the brand, the company went in for the bigger packs too. Today, Meera is a big name in the shampoo market. The Nano car from Tata Motors is another example of the Blue Ocean Strategy.

Cut to B Schools. Using the same methodology, the Bharathidasam Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli, forged a good MOU with the BHEL, Tiruchirapalli and made the practicing managers of BHEL act as Adjunct Faculty Members. The context of a superb organization like BHEL was available for the B school to enable learning in a very practical manner. The case studies also came from BHEL. Today, this B school is ranked among the thirty best B schools in India, with a one hundred percent placement record.

S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai even did not apply for the AICTE recognition. It relied on CAT scores for admission, right from day one. The Faculty Members were top notch. Their case studies were a mix of global and Indian experiences. The students were as good as those from IIMs, in terms of attitude to learn. Today, the institute has a presence in Dubai and is rated as one of the best for the supply of high-quality MBAs in India. In particular, there are several marketing wizards of Corporate India, who are products of this prestigious institution.

The aforesaid two examples are typical examples of Blue Ocean Strategy. The secret is to build a unique position by building competencies which are not only unique but also enable the B-school to stand out in a crowd of so many B-schools where the differentiation is not much.

Conclusion

The aforesaid discussion is related to what is really going on in most of the MBA colleges and is based on this author's direct observation. Unless something is done to drastically change everything, there is every possibility that we produce hundreds of thousands of MBAs who are unemployable.

All this should change fast through urgent reforms as discussed above.


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