New IIMs: Teething troubles plague new entrants
Six new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) as announced in Budget 2015, commenced their operations this year in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. But it’s indeed a sorry state of affairs. They operate from temporary campuses, student intake is less and only have guest faculty drawn from mentor institutions.
Reflected glory of ‘Brand IIM’ fails to enthuse students to join the new IIMs that lack permanent premises and faculty, throwing a question mark on the wisdom of starting them in such a hurry.
Seats go vacant
The Union Cabinet in June increased the intake to 140 students in these 6 new IIMs for their maiden PGP batch 2015-17, instead of 60 as announced earlier, later it was decided to admit only 60 owing to various reasons. The situation would have been really serious if these institutions had gone by the earlier decision.
In IIM Bihar (situated at Bodh Gaya), against the intake capacity of 60, only 30 students took admissions and similarly none of the new IIMs could fill all the 60 seats for the Post Graduate Programme (PGP), their flagship programme. IIM Visakhapatnam admitted 54, Sambalpur 49, Amritsar 50, Sirmaur 22 and Nagpur 55. Only IIM Nagpur, mentored by the IIM Ahmadabad, saw good traction as over 1800 students applied for its 60 seats; however, five seats are vacant there too. IIM Bangalore, which is the mentor institute of IIM Visakhapatnam, said that 54 students have been admitted there and as such there is not much of an issue there.
Mentor IIMs say that the lesser number of admissions were a result of the tough admission process and also because of the choices filled by students during the CAT admission process. Candidates might not have preferred the new ones, as there was a lack of clarity about when they would start classes.
New versus old
The new government announced the establishment of 10 institutes (IIMs, IITs) with an initial sum of Rs.500 crores for the current fiscal. The UPA government had set up seven new IIMs between 2008 and 2011, which are still struggling for permanent campuses, quality of teaching and research.
There are common concerns with respect to the new IIMs and the most important one is that opening more IIMs will affect ‘Brand IIM’, known world over. Some of the IIMs opened a few years back are still facing issues like shortage of quality faculty, and lack of infrastructure. Therefore, faculty recruitment is going to be a major task for the six new ones. Another problem is that some of these institutions have been opened in areas far from any industrial belt and in remote locations, affecting the quality of students applying there.
On the brighter side, the economy has been growing at over seven percent, leading demand for management graduates and the increase in the number of seats in IIMs is in tune with this robustness. IIMs offer a permanent position to people who have very high quality and excellent track record and invite leading trainers from industry as visiting faculties. While, looking at the students getting admission, all of them come through CAT which is itself a well-known test and the students who get admission score nowhere less that 97-98 percentile.
Voices have been raised against the opening of more IIMs citing it as a populous move by the center, saying it has nothing to do with the quality of education and brand name of IIMs getting affected.
Prof. Shekhar Chaudhuri, former Director IIM Calcutta said, “This is a political decision, we are a democracy and in democracy there are demands from different states and you have to respect them. So, different stakeholders have their views and you have to listen to them, though it might not be very effective.” When asked whether it will dilute Brand IIM, Prof. Chaudhuri said, “Yes, sometimes because of populism, they overlook at the quality side.”
Any institution has to prove its worth through institution building, which takes years, and the new IIMs are indeed basking in inherited glory of their predecessors. So they will also have to keep the name and fame of the brand IIM in mind while taking each step.
Opportunities for new IIMs
The six new IIMs have a blank black board to write everything afresh and they have all the opportunity to innovate and bring in some new elements to the way management education is taught in the country. These moves need not be compared to the older ones.
Dr. Bakul Dholakia, former Director IIMA said, “The lesser number of admissions in new IIMs means that today MBA aspirants cannot be misguided even by the nomenclature of Indian Institute of Management. This is the first sign of dilution of brand IIM. There was no need for these new IIMs to admit students this year, they could have done this next year and this would remain a permanent blot on these institutions. The other important thing is that do not put the cart before the horse, first build the institutions, with 10-12 students there is no revenue model, government could have supported the institutions through grant-in-aid and other such means, faculties could have been sent on quality improvement programmes and this way these institutions could have been built.”
The pace of setting up new institutions should be commensurate with the ability to put in good infrastructure and get good quality faculty and curriculum.
What is the way out?
The MHRD needs to understand that the older IIMs are known for their alumni, a crucial component that is missing in the new IIMs, infrastructure and full-time faculty. Even though the new IIMs are being mentored by older IIMs, it does not make them attractive to a student to invest high fees and two years of study. It would have been better to start the programme from 2016-17 as a majority of them started their operation 2-3 months late. These institutions will also have to put in extra effort, as they are located far from industrial zones.
Just establishing institutes in hurry will not only affect the name of IIMs but will also adversely affect the future of students. Thus, MHRD should ensure that proper infrastructure, adequate faculty and right environment are in place before admitting students.
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