Wednesday, October 13, 2010

IIMs to export CAT to foreign business schools

The brutally competitive Common Admission Test (CAT) is all set for a cross-over. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), which conduct the entrance exam, have been approached by business schools in Sri Lanka to do a CAT for their candidates as well, a plan that will take off next year. "We refused to conduct the CAT for them this year, but will do so in 2011," confirmed Himanshu Rai, Convener of CAT-2010.

Although the Indian market is shrinking, the IIMs feel the CAT is likely to get fatter as it flies out. "Apart from Lanka, B-schools in several countries in South-East Asia have shown interest in admitting students through the exam," Rai said.

Indeed, Rai had hinted at such a development last month in an article he wrote for a financial daily. "CAT ought to be taken across the frontiers since that would make it more viable while bringing in the best global practices," he had written. "The road is steep but the IIMs have always had the will and the capability. They have led others to global standards and they will continue to do so."

In 2009, after 33 years of a paper-pencil format, the test graduated to a computer-based one. The CAT in foreign lands, too, will follow the existing Indian model. The IIMs will hire an agency to conduct the exam; questions, however, will be designed by them, for which the IIMs have been thinking of setting up a company under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act, 1956. "Setting up a separate entity will ensure that a handful of IIM faculty members are de-linked temporarily from teaching and are involved only in conducting the exam. Few realise it, but it is a mammoth task," said an IIM faculty.

Currently, the IIMs have signed a five-year-long contract with an American-based testing firm, Prometric, to conduct the computer-based test. While the U.S. company is paid a fixed fee, the IIMs make their bucks through the money that flows in from applicants' registrations and from the fees they charge other B-schools for using the CAT scores to admit their candidates.

This year, apart from the IIMs, 157 B-schools across the country will use the CAT marks to select their students from a pool of 200,600 Indians who will sit for the test.

Source: The Times of India, October 13, 2010
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