Several management institutes across the country plan legal action to seek a reprieve from recent guidelines issued by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
Representatives of at least five B-schools in Delhi and Mumbai told Business Standard they are in discussions with others to form a consortium and approach the Bombay or Delhi High Court to either seek an interim injunction or reversal of the AICTE guidelines.
Over 200 B-schools are scheduled to meet in Delhi next week to discuss the issue and decide a future course of action.
We must allow market forces to determine admissions. In the age of liberalisation, we seem to be going backward. There can't be a diktat on admissions. We will discuss this matter with other B-schools and take necessary legal steps," said Suresh Ghai, director, K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research.
"B-schools have a right to go to court. We will put forth our views, too. These guidelines were not abrupt decisions. If other technical educational institutes, including those for engineering, architecture and hotel management, agree to AICTE's guidelines, why can't B-schools?" asked a senior AICTE executive.
In December 2010, AICTE issued guidelines on post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM) courses. Of the clauses, B-schools strongly oppose the norm that admission to PGDM courses must be through common entrance tests such as the Common Admission Test (CAT), Management Aptitude Test (MAT) or examinations conducted by state governments.
"By allowing students to give CAT, MAT or state-level exams, we are diluting the quality of students. A proper comparison cannot be made since the level of difficulty differs in each of these exams. Also, we cannot say that a student who secures 60 per cent in CAT, 50 per cent in MAT and 85 per cent in state-level exams are at par," said the director of a business management institute run by a Mumbai-based university.
AICTE also directed B-schools not to start admissions to their PGDM (executive) courses before March 31 of any academic year. While some B-schools may agree to this regulation, others say they have already begun the admission process.
"We had finalised CAT admission details with IIMs last year. We cannot reverse that now. We will seek an interim injunction from the court on this issue," said the director of a Mumbai-based B-school with four campuses and over six executive education centres.
AICTE has also said admission to PGDM programmes must be conducted by state governments through a competent authority. B-school directors say if a college does not have a good reputation, it will be unable to fill seats. For instance, last year many institutions that had permission from AICTE to start management programmes without infrastructure, faculty or library but a seat capacity of 240 had to be content with just 60-100 students. This lead Maharashtra Directorate of Technical Education to issue a circular stating that colleges could admit students, even without the mandatory scores.
AICTE has also suggested that fees to be charged for PGDM, PGDM executive and PGCM programmes be approved by a committee of respective state governments. B-schools say when PGDBM executive programmes, which are one-year or 15-month programmes, are not recognised by AICTE, where is the need to fix the fee?
B-schools say fee restrictions may impact the quality of infrastructure, remuneration to attract good faculty and, worst of all, may lead to the malaise of capitation fees. "B-schools oppose this regulation as they want to fleece students. How on earth can a farmer's son pay Rs 15 lakh for management education? We have brought in these guidelines in everyone's interest," added the senior AICTE official.
There are over there are over 2,400 B-schools in India, of which 1,999 are AICTE approved. Industry experts say around 400 B-schools are unapproved. Together, they have nearly 190,000 seats.