Universities of India 2008
    
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Q. Please give us a brief overview of the said business school and the class diversity.

A. T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) is one of the oldest autonomous private business schools in the country. Set up during early 80’s in the University town of Manipal, Karnataka, TAPMI grew into an institute of repute for the rigor and richness of its curriculum. The Institute has a fully equipped 42 acre fully residential campus with a built up area of over 2.3 lak sq ft. The Institute is accredited by NBA and NAAC and is in the final stages of getting the reputed AACSB Accreditation, perhaps the first Indian B School to get this coveted international recognition. TAPMI currently have an intake of 180 students per year in its flagship PGDM and intake of 60 in PGDM-Health Care. Institute has pan India presence among its students with North and Central region accounting for around 40% of intake, while South and West accounting for 30% and 20% respectively. Remaining students comes from East and North - Eastern Hill states of the country. The Institute has gender diversity with around 35% female students. The class also has a rich mix of students with prior work experience. The class of 2010 has around 70% students with work experience ranging between 12 to 40 months while remaining are either fresh graduates or with experience less than 12 months. The batch however is skewed with respect to their graduation as 85% students hold Bachelors in Engineering or Technology while around 10% are with bachelor degree in commerce or business. Remaining students come from diverse backgrounds of medicine, arts, literature and journalism.

Q. What are the factors that attract foreign students to the Indian Business Schools?

A TAPMI has an active foreign exchange programme with business schools in Europe and South East Asia. One of the major factor that is quite attractive for students from these countries is the opportunity to intern with an Indian Corporate during their stay in India. The foreign students also find the tacit knowledge about doing business in India, reflected in class room discussions, quite valuable to have an in-depth understanding of the nuances of doing successful business in India. The foreign students are also keen to know the success of the Indian business, which has shown remarkable capability of managing complexity, contradictions and uncertainty especially in recent years.

Q. What opportunities do you see for the Indian Business schools in the coming years/ or five years down the line?

A. Indian Higher Education sector is in the verge of a massive growth, which is expected to happen in the near future. Along with this, the sustained high growth in economy also raises demand for good educational institutions providing high quality management education. In addition to this, the need for managers in specialised sectors like hospitality, healthcare, retail, infrastructure etc will also increase in the near future. In next five years, many business schools have to redefine the conventional curriculum which focused on functional specialisations of finance, marketing etc to a broader theme based specialisation which caters to the rising need in those sectors, emerging out from the general economic growth in the country. Another area of opportunity for Indian Business schools is to identify and document the DNA of Indian Businesses, which can be a major value add to the theory and practice of management. Rather than aping the Western practices, generally reflected in the case studies discussed in B-school classes, there is a huge opportunity available for Indian Business Schools to play a lead role in conducting in-depth research on Indian management practices to develop contextual case studies that can enrich the business education all over the world.

Q. According to you what are the main problems/issues plaguing the Business Schools today?

Even though in the recent past there was an exponential growth in quantity of B Schools, the quality has not kept in pace with this growth. Despite having huge opportunities, the low employability of management graduates is leading to poor employment for them. Many of the universities and the business schools affiliated to them follow outdated curriculum. The availability of good quality faculty is also a major issue. As a post graduate educational institution, a business school is expected to excel itself in knowledge creation, dissemination and application activities simultaneously. Unfortunately, most of the business schools are still focusing on knowledge dissemination part alone making themselves as just “teaching shops”. Research is scanty and not rigorous, except in a few premier business schools in the country. The dynamic nature of business require business education should be kept in pace with it by conducting relevant research and generating new knowledge in the area. This is awfully lacking in Indian context. Finding the right balance between teaching and research is a major issue for individual and institution. The Doctoral programmes in management in the country is currently not capable of producing enough number of management teachers with right flavor for research and also the existing compensation packages are not enough to attract good quality talent from abroad. Unless this issue is not resolved, the management education in the country will not be in a position to compete with those available in the developed nations.

Another short term measure to address the issue is to attract NRI academicians from leading business schools abroad for spending their sabbatical in Indian B Schools. While there are many such successful relationships happening in the top B Schools, the need for developing a fulbright type of programme to institutionalise the same, where in part of their compensation can be borne by Government could be thought of to attract good talent which will not only add rigor in the B School education but also will mentor the existing faculty resources.

Q. According to you, what steps should be taken to cope up with the shortage of skilled faculty for the business schools in India?

A. As government is planning for huge increase in gross enrolment ratio, the demand for good quality faculty is going to increase exponentially. On the other hand, the opportunities available for qualified people (say with qualifications like Ph.D) in other sectors like consultancy etc. is also increasing with the economic growth of the nation. Thus the shortage of faculty is going to continue unabated unless proactive measures for faculty development are initiated on a national level. As the immediate consumer of the products of a business school is the industry, they can play a very constructive role in this situation. Creation of industry chairs in business schools by industry can address the issue of the wage differential which de-motivates many to take up faculty positions. There is also need for creating good quality M.Phil programmes in management, which re-orient the MBAs to teaching career. The established institutions like IIMs, TAPMI, SPJain etc. also can play a significant role in mentoring young management graduates as academic interns. The top Business Schools should also look at the possibility offering part time DBA programmes for senior executives to re-orient them as good faculty who brings knowledge and experience to the classrooms.

Q. How has your school coped with the challenges, especially placements, thrown by the recent economic downturn?

A. The economic downturn had little effect on placements of TAPMI. Even though there was a reduction in recruitment by conventional recruiters, a few new recruiters had effectively used this opportunity. Instead of focusing only on existing recruiters, institute followed the strategy of looking at other potential recruiters who are either not affected much by the recession or have huge demand for management graduates. For instance, PSU Banks recruited heavily during the last two years. By focusing on the needs of the banks and fine tuning the curriculum of the institute through new elective courses, that suit the requirements of banks, TAPMI could make its graduates obtain gainful employment in these banks. This ensured that TAPMI’s long standing record of 100% placement continued even during the period of recession.

Q. What changes have Indian Business Schools seen in the last three years?

A. A major change that has happened in the recent past (especially in top Business schools) is the change in the profile of the candidates. The number of students with prior work experience is on the rise, making it necessary for schools to make proper changes in course content and pedagogy to make it relevant. We have also seen the one year programmes (offered by ISB, IIMs, Great Lakes etc.) also gaining prominence. There is also an increased presence of Indian B Schools in the international arena. With at least a few high quality business schools seeking global accreditation like AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS, this trend will likely to continue provided the regulatory environment of the country changes itself to favor the same. The number of faculty members relocating from abroad to top business schools (either on sabbatical or permanently) is also increased in the recent past. However, along with this positive developments, there is also a huge growth in the number of business schools, many of them lacking adequate intellectual resources to offer a good quality management programme.

Q. What kind of challenges / opportunities do you see after opening the doors for the foreign universities for setting up their centers directly in India by the government of India?

A. Foreign Universities will also face the same problems of faculty shortage which is faced by Indian B Schools today. The relocation of foreign faculty to the campuses in India will increase the cost of education and make them in a position of competitive disadvantage with the reputed business schools in India. Another problem, these universities will face is the composition of the students. Most of the top BSchools in the world gives admission only to mature students with five+ years of experience. However the average experience of typical B School in India (taking only top 100 business schools) is less than an year with a substantial portion of fresher’s. The typical research oriented pedagogy which is followed in foreign B Schools may not work effectively with the inexperienced batch of students in Indian B Schools. However foreign universities can make their mark by focusing on executive education. The success of one year programmes of IIMs, ISB is an indicator of the breadth and depth of this market. There are not many part time MBA programs which are of high repute in India today. This surely will be a great opportunity for the new foreign university entrant.

Q. What are your institute’s future plans?

A. TAPMI is expecting to get AACSB Accreditation by early 2011. This will put the institute in the league of top universities in the world as it is the most globally recognised mark for quality and robustness of the academic programme in management. With AACSB accreditation, TAPMI will be well equipped to expand its horizons beyond Manipal. TAPMI is also aligning more closely with Manipal Group of Institutions to leverage on its global repute in Healthcare and education to expand geographical reach and richness of the programme.