Theatre of the absurd
I am a fan of Wild West classics and, of course, of the “Sheriff” - Clint Eastwood. And every year for the past over 15 years I am associated with business education in India, and the annual roll out is not dissimilar to the elements of Hollywood blockbusters of the 60s, except that Sheriff’s gun is almost always pointed the other way! Welcome to the annual admission hunt.
As students start scouring for their best picks, one can see that nothing has changed despite all the tall promises of educational reforms by the very vocal former HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal. And the theatre of the absurd continues. There are still dozens of admission tests. Even the single national test promised by the government has become one of the many tests like CAT, MAT, XAT, AIMAT, NMAT, CMAT and SNAP, that are to be taken by the students for their choice of seats. CAT continues to rule the roost with quarter million students taking the test, and more schools being added to the list without any validation, thus giving a misleading perception of their perceived quality among the students.
Also, one can’t understand why the IIMs continue to mislead the students year on year, as combined seats on offer remains but a minuscule percentage of those taking the test. Students have no choice but to continue to depend upon coaching classes for their tests and also for information on admission choice.
Admission tests apart, can the student look at the Indian regulatory system represented by AICTE for succour? The Regulator may have managed to bring under its list most of the schools not acceding to the government regulation but litigations even before the Supreme Court continues as to whether such regulation helps or hinders capacity expansion and quality in business and technical education which only adds to the confusion in the students’ mind.
Can accreditation, which even Harvard, Kellogg, INSEAD, London Business School, Asian Institute of Management swear by, while admitting students, help? Though the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) have been accrediting for close to two decades, there is hardly any attempt to inform the students about its usefulness when it comes to making a choice. There are 19 schools now, which are also internationally accredited. Do students know about these?
What about media ratings?
The media ratings are limited by the ability and willingness of media houses to validate the claims made by the schools. This limits their accuracy in pointing to best choices among the business schools. Besides, there are over 60 Ratings existing, each with their own criteria, adding to the general chaos giving little choice to the students in finding their school!
How about the proverbial worldwide web and the social networking with almost everyone and certainly the student population being totally addicted to? Perhaps this is the area where maximum confusion prevails as competing websites, simply play along with the obvious, rather than educate students and provide more meaningful options to expand the choices for students, who deserve better knowledge and wider options if they have to find their patch of gold.