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How top B-schools are rated

September 16, 2005

Class, sophistication and quality gets reflected in many ways. The key parameters by which the All India Management Association survey of India's business schools, measures these, is through five core parameters.

Within that, three main parameters that hold the key to higher (or lower) ratings are: intellectual capital, admissions and placement, and infrastructure, which together account for 80 per cent of the weightage. The other two, industry interface and governance, account for the remaining 20 per cent.

A close look at the overall category ratings this year shows that the Top Ten schools in the A+ category score, on most of the parameters, better than the rest of the A+ schools on almost all parameters -- from admissions and placements to intellectual capital to infrastructure and governance. 

There are however sometimes, some exceptions: This time, University Business School, Chandigarh, a Top Ten school,  scores poorly on governance with a score of just 75, much lower than the others. Again, Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad scores a comparatively poor score of 70 on industry interface.

The quality differences between various grades are more obvious when one compares some key averages. B-schools essentially serve two main customer bases: the corporate recruiters and students.

If you take a criterion most often used by students seeking admissions and average placement salaries, this year's figures show a counter-trend. At the last placement season in 2004, the Super League schools did an average salary of Rs 6.45 lakhs. 

This year, the Top Ten average was just Rs 6.27 lakhs. This was in part because the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) did not take part in this year's ratings.While the rest of the A+ category did about Rs 5.1 lakhs, at the next stage of the A category, it was only Rs 3.88 lakhs. 

The slide continues steadily through the A, B+, B, and C+ schools, before ending with the C schools at about Rs 1.32 lakhs.

Or take intellectual capital. The average Top Ten school has around 31 PhDs.

At the next level, the figure for the rest of the A+ group, drops to 25, which is however higher than last year's average in this category of 19. Then it crashes steadily all the way to C category schools with just two PhDs apiece. 

Again, if you were to take the average number of papers published by the Top Ten schools, the number is 129, up from the Super Leage average of 74 last year. The A-plus schools did a respectable 109. But after that is a sharp decline. When you get to the A schools, it is down to 32, which however is up from the 15 last year. By the time you get to the C schools, it's practically negligible.

Research is one area that many of the top league schools are clearly focussing on. This emphasis on the creation of intellectual capital will be critical as the Top Ten and other A + schools ready themselves for global challenges. 

The other challenge for many business schools is access to good quality faculty. Corporates also crucially want B-schools to change the format of the placements, so that they are done in a more systematic way. But the short and medium-term challenges for the top B-schools add up to more than just focussing on research, faculty or infrastructure.

Sustaining excellence in the long term will call for greater institutional autonomy, serving the rising corporate and student expectations, coping with competition from foreign universities and finally in reinventing the very foundation of management education.

Clearly, it's a long haul.




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