Thursday, July 07, 2011

B-schools may be able to opt for government accreditation

In three months, management schools in India may be able to opt for government accreditation in line with international norms, which will enhance their credibility and make them eligible for funding from more local and foreign sources. Higher standards for faculty, infrastructure, admission process and student placement, among other parameters, have been suggested in a report on the proposed accreditation process. A meeting chaired by human resource development minister Kapil Sibal discussed the report on Wednesday.

There is no formal accreditation process for management schools in India currently, although they have to meet minimum benchmarks and get the approval of the regulator, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), to operate. “We have tried to set benchmarks in line with leading global accrediting agencies in management education, such as Association of MBAs, UK, and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business,” said Vinayshil Gautam, Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) and a member of the committee which authored the report.

The committee, which included B.S. Sahay, Director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Raipur, and Rekha Sethi, Director General of All Indian Management Association, was appointed by the Union government’s National Board of Accreditation (NBA).

“As India’s education system grows, we need a quality assurance,” said B.C. Majumdar, Chairman of NBA. “Those who will get this tag will be eligible to get funding benefit from bodies like Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology or external agencies like the World Bank.” Majumdar said the accreditation process will be in place by September, and will initially be voluntary.

But the Union government eventually wants to make accreditation mandatory for all technical education institutes, including management schools. It has already introduced a Bill in Parliament in this regard. “India still suffers from a problem of accessibility of quality education, especially in the underdeveloped parts of the country,” Sibal said at the meeting. “Enhancing the mobility of students and providing satisfactory infrastructural framework are keys to upgrade the education setup and meet the global standards.”

India has at least 3,850 management schools, which admit nearly 400,000 students every year. But industry executives say that in the absence of quality benchmarks, most schools do not churn out well-qualified graduates. “In terms of new recruitment, we find quality only in pockets. Beyond a few institutes like IIMs, you find the new breed is lagging behind,” said Rajiv Sahdev, Vice President of Human Resources at Moser Baer India Ltd. “An accreditation that ensures quality management education will benefit the industry for sure,” said D. Shivakumar, Vice President and Managing Director (Markets) at Nokia India Pvt. Ltd.

IIT-Delhi’s Gautam said students who pass out from accredited institutes will have an edge in getting jobs too. “Those who will come out for accreditation know that all their credentials will be open to public. This adds to credibility.” IIM-Raipur’s Sahay agreed. “To keep the process transparent, the panel has suggested that the quality assessor and mentor of the institutes be different individuals,” he said.

Sibal said the process should be such that “we must eliminate all forms of discretion. What happens now is that you evaluate on the basis of perception of the individual whom you sent there (to institutes) to evaluate. What you really have to do is to set up standards so that the element of discretion is absent.” Dinesh Kumar Paliwal, Member-Secretary of NBA, said the body does not want to accredit IIMs and management courses run by IITs as they have already reached a level of excellence.

Source: Mint, July 7, 2011
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