Management education in India is under the scanner. With so many B-schools being shut down in the last two years for lack of quality, students need to be acutely aware of how to choose the right B-school for pursuing a worthy MBA.
As India is evolving, the government is optimistic that by 2025, our economy will be worth $5 trillion. Such a fast expanding economy translates into a wider need for relevant talent in the near future. Furthermore, it also means a bigger demand for management professionals per the new emerging workplace. If recruitment projections are anything to go by, pursuing an MBA today is likely to pay off tomorrow. However, as discussed in my last blog, not all that is glittering in management education, is gold. Although, today there are over 3500 institutes/b-schools offering the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme in India, not all are fulfilling the claims they boast of. In such a scenario, it is imperative that students choose wisely and invest their time, money and energy in a B-school which provides quality education and offers upgraded exposure for managerial roles.
Commonly, it is said that pursuing an MBA from the top 20 or so institutes is worthy of cognisance. Nevertheless, within or outside this top list, choosing a b-school should be a judicious decision based on various parameters. Students and working professionals both should be wary of false claims made on the internet and in various media. Here are a few factors one should consider before deciding where one wants to apply.
Salary data in placements.
What career opportunities are potentially possible after graduating from a certain B-school should be the main reason for one’s choice. Salaries offered during placements alone cannot indicate the quality of an institute. However, the qualitative benefits of doing an MBA can be assessed only after a student passes out and begins a career graph. Alternatively, salary data generated during placement is a more immediate indicator of quality at a B-school.
Management education involves a considerable fee for students over a period of two years. By the same token, a reasonably good or high return on this monetary investment is the most logical expectation. Salary data is a good yardstick to measure the same.
Nevertheless, some of the pitfalls one should be aware of with regards to this factor are:
- Some B-schools do not reveal any placement data. Others release incomplete information, like only the names of companies, and not salary and job roles offered.
- Other institutes post obsolete lists of companies which visited years ago instead of releasing recent data.
- Distortion of salary figures is another marketing gimmick followed by certain B-schools. Adding ‘variable pay’ or ‘joining bonuses’ to mislead students about the real salary data, is quite rampant.
- More than 50% B-schools do not mention the percentage of students who graduate without jobs from their campuses.
Although, there is no standardised, government controlled system for maintaining transparency about placement data, the IIM Ahmedabad, in 2011, initiated a system of reporting standards called the Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS)
The IPRS, if implemented well, is an amazing system for maintaining transparency, since it involves third party audit of placement reports. All institutes which follow IPRS are known to be more honest about their placement data.
Cut-off in entrance test
As a thumb rule, the higher the cut off percentile in the admission test, the better the quality of the B-school. Higher cut offs simply mean that the students who eventually study there are A-grade students. In a symbiotic context, good students enhance the brand image of a school while the B-school’s high brand value in turn helps the students to have a head start in their careers.
Significantly, the quality of students affects the quality of learning since peer interaction is an integral part of a B-school curriculum.
The quantum of fee charged in a B-school cannot be the sole indicator of its quality. Many top schools, like the older IIMs charge a high fee of ₹20 lakhs, while other top ranking institutes charge a rudimentary ₹3 lakhs. For example, FMS Delhi, one of India’s top 10 B-schools, charges just ₹ 2 lakhs for its two-year MBA programme. Regarding this, it should be noted that FMS and other university departments of management are heavily subsidized by the government, but the traditional IIMs and private colleges, like XLRI gather their own funds for operations. Hence, the difference. Therefore, the fee of a B-school can only be used in conjunction with other factors like placement data and brand image to assess the quality of its education.
If the fee of an institute is on the higher side, the RoI (Return on Investment) should be researched in detail. A good RoI means the salary offered during placement should offset the fee expense incurred by the student to a large extent. The RoI becomes increasingly important as we go down the list of B-schools.
Location is another factor to be considered in choosing a B-school, but again, not singularly. Notwithstanding a remote location, a good B-school with a strong brand image does attract good faculty and companies for placement. It is the brand strength of an institute which can draw quality teachers and industries to even a lesser known location. For example, the new IIM’s , though not built in mainstream location, have garnered good reputation both from industry and academia.
Notably, for institutes which are listed in lower rungs of the ranking ladder, especially below rank 40, the brand strength is unable to counter the disadvantage of location.
Infrastructure and Faculty
The quality of teaching and infrastructure are two additional factors for assessing the quality of a B-school. Speaking about these, certain finer points need to be kept in mind before deriving conclusions.
For instance, the academic qualifications of the permanent and visiting teachers should be vetted soundly. Moreover, whether they are currently teaching in that institute or not needs to be cross checked. The number of full-time or part time professors is not always a reflector of teaching quality. Jamnalal Bajaj Institute in Mumbai, has numerous visiting teachers but is nevertheless a highly ranked institute.
Infrastructure is definitely a factor to be considered, especially in this technology driven age. Basic amenities apart, availability of computers, softwares, Wi-Fi are an essential prerequisite for holistic exposure to managerial education. However, there might be institutes which are not extraordinary on this aspect but excellent in other parameters. Hence, some lack of infrastructure cannot be the sole criteria for judging the institute.
Based on the above parameters and other details, various research agencies, in association with reputed publications, bring out lists of best b-schools in India to apply for. Each list might vary a bit in the hierarchical rankings, but mostly, the list remains quite similar. Here is an indicative list of the top 20 B-schools in India, to refer by:
- Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A)
- Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM-B)
- Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C)
- XLRI Jamshedpur
- Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi
- Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIM-I)
- Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM-K)
- S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai
- Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurugram
- Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai
- Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune
- National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai
- Department of Management studies, IIT Delhi
- Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, IIT, Mumbai
- Institute of management Technology (IMT) Ghaziabad
- Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar
- Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT, (VGSOM), Kharagpur
- Indian Institute of Management Shillong
- Symbiosis Centre for Management & Human Resource Development (SCMHRD), Pune
- Department of Management studies , IIT, Chennai