IntroductionThe Tier 3 B schools are the unbranded schools. These are B-Schools that essentially teach the University MBA course, either in the University department or in the affiliated colleges. There are technical Universities that also have such MBA courses. However, the standards of these courses are so poor, that the students do not get placements or work in jobs that pay a pittance, more often than not, lower than what is sometimes paid to fresh arts and science graduates.
Why does this happen? It happens because these Tier 3 colleges have not made any attempt to revamp their courses to reflect and address the needs of modern industry. Secondly, they are totally inadequate in terms of being updated in terms of modern Management concepts and their practical application. Thirdly, the B-School teachers hardly make any attempt to ever make any attempt to teach the MBA students through the case-study method.
It is in this context that the Tier 3 B Schools need to relook at their strategies for survival and growth. Let us first have a look at what is a Tier 3 B School. The top tier 1 B schools are the IIMs and the ISB, Hyderabad, and at least the older IIMs are simply world-class. The new IIMs are also making their own mark. Outside these IIMs, are are some 75 branded B schools, that can now be possibly be extended to one hundred branded B schools across the country, that have very good standards of education and also have research-based inputs that go into the extensive case-study methods, and such infrastructure, with very good highly quality doctorates, does make a big difference. The vital parameter of success is that these B Schools have a vast majority of MBAs who get at least six lakh per annum salary package.
When one says six lakh, it does not mean that the highest is six lakh. It does mean that the graduates get at least six lakh, with a few exceptions, where the salary may be little less. But these are very good branded B-schools. One of such branded B-school, with a very positive and superb record of industrial collaboration with a huge public sector organization, that is, BHEL, is the Bharathidasan Institute of Management. The highest package in such B schools would easily exceed one lakh per month. These are the Tier 2 B-Schools.
And then comes the Tier 3 B-Schools, and there would be at least three thousand of them out of which another one hundred would be aspiring to enter the Tier 2 list, but are still not there. The number of affiliated University colleges, that have surrendered the MBA course in the past five years has increased quite a lot, since there are no takers.
The urgent and drastic steps are : a) Total revamp of syllabuses b) Industry tie-ups and MoUs c) High quality research d) Local collaboration among B Schools e) Taking internship very seriously.
Total revamp of syllabusesTake a city like Salem, the fifth largest city of Tamil Nadu, as an example. There are at least 25 B schools in this district-headquarters town, which is primarily an agricultural town. It has a booming trade in all sorts of commodities and its proximity to Coimbatore, the booming and leading Tier 2 city of India, is a big advantage. Yet, these B Schools do not have the standard of the Sona School of Management, a B-school that has heavily invested in brand building and is now aspiring to become a Tier 2 B-school, to place itself firmly in the top 75 B School of the country. The 25 B schools should learn from this B school and then take things forward. Unless this is done, and the syllabuses are not updated every six months, the MBA standards will not improve at all.
Industry tie-ups and MoUs The problem with Tier 3 B-Schools, is that they are situated in places where the nearest industries are at least sixty kilometers away. The teaching is purely academic, and is largely examination-oriented. However, this cannot and should not happen. They ought to reach out to the industry and try to have for Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs). For example, there are a number of medium and small-scale enterprises. The experienced teachers of B-schools, can positively chip in with their knowledge and enable the entrepreneurs of such organizations to gather some vital conceptual inputs. This needs to be done for free, in exchange of down-to-earth internships for the MBAs, who can be trained in various departments. This training will greatly enable the MBA students to understand the business complexities.
High quality research Research in any B-school has to be two varieties. The first is the empirical research, where data is collected from a cross-section of employees and the empirical analysis of such data supports a hypothesis or rejects it, through and by the use of advanced statistical methods. Usually, this sort of research is more useful to the doctorate teachers and the doctorate students. The MBA students need a totally different type of research. This research should point out the current status of an organization or a group of organizations. For example, the Aditya Birla group has several business interests in branded textiles, cement, commodities, mutual funds and so on. Detailed research into how these businesses have grown over a period of time would reveal a huge insight into the strategies that had contributed to such success and hence the case-study will throw open a lot of vital information that would straddle the entire gamut of many functional areas.
This is exactly the needed emphasis in all Tier 3 B-schools. This urgent imperative is no more a choice. It is one vital input that would make a big difference in the struggle for survival and growth.
Local collaboration among B Schools While some discussion on this vital imperative has already made in the aforesaid emphasis on revamping of syllabuses, the local Tier 3 B Schools in the same area, need to urgently pool their resources and pull up their socks as well. This will also include the University MBA colleges.
For example, the B-Schools in a town like Vijayawada in AP can pool together their Faculty resources and draw upon those with experience in industry. This will enable the useful flow of practical knowledge and facilitate collaboration between theoretical and practical inputs. They can then take the local collaboration to the next level, by even encouraging their own alumni, for example, to set up start-ups in their small towns, with advanced knowledge and support of the B School teachers. Innovation is the need of the hour and once small innovations take place, the scope for bigger innovations will open up.
Taking internship very seriously.Since the number of MBA students is huge, the Managements of most Tier 3 B-Schools do not take internships seriously at all. For example, there is an attempt to just pass on this responsibility, with an introduction letter naming the student. Even the functional area of Management specialization is just not done. Such totally inadequate methods will no more work in the real world.
There should at least be one Faculty Member, who should go around to industrial organizations, even in the other big cities. It is these organizations that can help the students to grow to the next level. The concerned Faculty Member should study the organization thoroughly and offer suggestions on how the MBA students can add value. For example, it is an FMCG organization, the MBA students can study the scope of the existing and proposed new products of the organization, through meaningful market research. This is exactly what needs to be done. Furthermore, to instill confidence in the industrial organization, the teachers should compulsorily visit the organizations once a week, during the period of internship of the student and enable far greater learning and industry-institute collaboration. At the moment, this is a very grave area in most Tier 3-B schools.
Conclusion The most vital steps for addressing the existential crisis of most Tier 3 B schools have been discussed above. However, the discussion is only indicative and not exhaustive, as the scope for innovation is so high. One does hope that the Tier 3 B-schools will sit up and take notice and initiate urgent action in this regard.
The main problem with these colleges is that they are happy with the students who are coming by paying the fees that they prescribe. Many students who want to be good managers or administrators will never opt for these colleges. Some students who want to say that they are also post graduates will join these colleges. I have interacted with many students who come out of these colleges with an MBA degree. Their standard is really much lower than even B.Com graduates from a good degree college. I have seen many MBA graduates from such colleges working in very small organizations with very less salary.
These colleges have to do a lot of work for improving their standards and to attract good students. They have to hire capable teaching staff and provide infrastructure in the colleges. They have to interact with the industries nearby and understand their requirements and then design the courses as required. Otherwise, these schools will slowly lose their identity and may face closure also.
The author has come out with valuable suggestions to improve the standards of these colleges.