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Should IIMs opt out of the ranking system?
April 06, 2005
Though there is doubt over the methodology, B-school surveys help aspiring management students and recruiters make a more informed choice.
D M Pestonjee, Former Faculty Member, IIM, Ahmedabad
Apples should be compared with apples and not with potatoes. The Indian Institutes of Management should stay away from B-school rankings since they enjoy the créme de la créme category status. They cannot be compared with other private B-schools in India that focus only on business management, thus lacking depth and a detailed understanding of management as a subject.
Also, there are doubts about the depth and methodology of these domestic surveys. Methodologies vary from one survey to another and there is no uniformity in the process.
It is seen that the IIMs, especially IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore, have always secured top positions in any survey carried out in the country since they deserve it. But there are cases when the IIMs have been awarded lesser grades than other smaller and less-known private B-schools in certain categories, even as the surveyors are not sure of the yardsticks for such measurements.
Let the organisations carrying out such surveys face the heat with the absence of the IIMs for a year or two and then let these entities work out a better process and methodology to handle such surveys; the IIMs may then take a call.
IIMs: Triumphs & Tribulations
The IIMs were created by recognising the need for excellence in management. Let there be no confusion between management and business management studies.
The philosophy of management schools like the IIMs does not necessarily match with the philosophy of business management. At the IIMs we call it "developing internal excellence" and leave it to the world to judge its results.
In India, B-schools have a fixation with showcasing placements records; that is not the case with the IIMs, which have had the best placements in India because of their thrust on internal excellence and not on working as an employment generation agency.
The IIMs are not bothered about placements. But most rankings for management schools are an outcome of the placement records of the respective B-schools.
I feel management education should not be equated with employment generation. It is a concept of excellence and should be kept away from the yardstick of placements.
As said earlier, I have doubts over the depth of the surveys conducted by various publications in association with research agencies. Most of the times, B-schools make false claims about the quantity and quality of faculty members. In a number of management institutes, one academician teaches at more than one B-school and all schools display him in their survey sheets as their faculty member. I call it the rotating faculty syndrome.
The same is the case with the fees structure, which is not given adequate weightage in these surveys. It is a general theory that higher fees in institutes means better faculty members, more amenities, better industry interaction and so on. But that is not the case.
The IIMs provide the best infrastructure at the least cost when compared with other B-schools that charge hefty fees. IIM-Ahmedabad spends nearly Rs 70 lakh (Rs 7 million) a year for students who cannot afford education at the institute, and makes sure that no student is left without an opportunity to get education, because of lack of finance.
Instead of putting all institutes on the same platform and comparing them, surveys should be conducted categorywise. There are a number of university departments that have a better quality of education compared to the heavy-weight B-schools.
The IIMs, which are responsible to the central government, should be compared amongst themselves and there should be separate categories for university departments and private B-schools.
A level playing field should be provided for university departments in the rankings in view of their performance, despite limited resource allocation.
Anup K Singh, Director, Institute of Management, Nirma University
The Indian Institutes of Management, especially IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta, should not stay away from domestic rankings, not only for their own good but also for the sake of other B-schools, aspiring B-school students and placement entities.
Today, about 3,00,000 applicants appear in various competitive examinations for more than 1,000 B-schools in India. The increasing number of B-schools and prospective students implies that Indian management education has come of age.
At the same time, many question the quality of instruction in most management schools. The aspirants, on the other hand, are unable to make an informed decision while selecting a B-school.
One answer to this confusion is accreditation, which examines a management school's quality of instruction delivery; development and retention of faculty; intellectual capital; rigour of educational programmes; curriculum evaluation; networking with industry and so on.
The National Board of Accreditation, an arm of the All India Council for Technical Education, New Delhi, is responsible for the accreditation of B-schools in India.
However, the accreditation system is weak. Further, few B-schools have undergone accreditation. Established B-schools do not care for it, while new B-schools do not dare go for it.
This failure of accreditation has caused problems for students and recruiters. The issue of quality and standards was addressed for the first time in 1997 by Business Today, when it first conducted a survey of Indian B-schools.
Other business magazines like BusinessWorld, Business India, Indian Management and Outlook followed suit. The surveys are conducted by independent agencies such as COSMODE, AC Nielsen, IMRB and so on.
The main purpose of these surveys is two-fold: to provide information about B-schools to students, recruiters and the general public, and to establish relevant benchmarks for B-schools, thereby enhancing the standards of management education.
Different agencies follow different approaches and methodologies. Some focus on objective data while others depend on pure perceptual data.
Nonetheless, their frameworks are sound and the methodologies are robust. B-school surveys have helped not only those aspiring to get into management schools but also the corporate world and management academia in several ways.
First, the surveys have disseminated information about B-schools among people. Second, they have established benchmarks for facilities, infrastructure, faculty, research, curriculum, and so on. B-school directors use these benchmarks to improve their standards.
Third, these surveys have generated a healthy competition among B-schools.
At a time when such surveys are playing a constructive role in enhancing the standard of B-schools, the IIMs' decision of not participating is both surprising and sad. In the past, the IIMs have been ranked highly, except the new IIMs. But that is natural; it takes time and effort to achieve excellence.
Participation in a survey signifies transparency, openness and an ability to take feedback, and commitment for continuous improvement. It is a B-school's responsibility to share information about itself with the public.
Moreover, the IIMs are publicly-funded institutions. Consequently, they are more answerable to the public and should maintain the highest standards of transparency and openness.
Each survey has its own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, no survey is complete; and it need not be so. As surveys endeavour to map the different aspects of B-schools, they complement and supplement one another.
However, they also come out with conflicting results at times. But then, people don't depend on just one survey. Rather, they examine how a B-school performs in different surveys and then make their opinion.
Non-participation in B-school surveys shows a lack of desire for disclosure.
It also denies people their right to information. It will also impede the progress of management education in India.
As told to Joydeep Ray