Saturday, October 17, 2009

Indian students number in Oz may drop by half: Study

In the backdrop of a spate of racial attacks in Australia, Down Under could witness about a 50 per cent drop in Indian students in the next session, according to an international educational recruiter. "In our India offices we're expecting our 2010 February intake to be down by about 50 per cent," IDP Education chief executive Tony Pollock said, according to an ABC report. IDP which works with 400 institutions across Australia and takes in 35,000 students released a survey today conducted on over 6,000 students from eight countries including 1,100 students from India.

Pollock felt the fall in numbers might be entirely due to safety issues, global slowdown could also play a part in it. "We have the GFC (global financial crisis), which has obviously impacted upon families in India and that's evident by the fact that the applications for other countries are way down, particularly the US."

The survey was to find out what foreign students thought about Australia in comparison to other English speaking destination, he said. "The somewhat surprising result and indeed promising result is that they believe Australia to be the safest destination," the survey said.

In the backdrop of a spate of racial attacks in Australia, Down Under could witness about a 50 per cent drop in Indian students in the next session, according to an international educational recruiter. "In our India offices we're expecting our 2010 February intake to be down by about 50 per cent," IDP Education chief executive Tony Pollock said, according to an ABC report.

Central universities will get to hire foreigners

Fifteen central universities set up recently will be allowed to take foreigners as well as persons of Indian origin on their faculty. A model ordinance will be drawn to attract the best brains to these universities, completely funded by the Centre with an objective to provide specialised courses and extensive research, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said.

At a meeting with the vice chancellors of these universities last month, Sibal called for a single entrance examination, enabling students to apply for a number of courses. These 15 universities -- 12 new and three upgraded state universities -- are in addition to the 25 that existed before the Central Act, 2009 was brought in.

The University Grants Commission, a regulatory body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, will set up a panel to work on the ordinance for inviting foreign faculty, Sibal said. Transfer of credit, exchange of faculty and students within institutions and foreign collaboration will also be looked into. Each central university should have a unique set of courses drawn in accordance with the needs and problems of the region they are in, the minister said. This single entrance system, expected to make admission process less cumbersome, could be extended to the other 25 central universities later, Sibal said.

IIMs allowed to set up campuses abroad

Preempting any objections by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) about autonomy, the government has decided that all appointments of directors and board members will be done through an independent collegium. This really avoided any kind of standoff like with the IITs, but Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has also thrown in bonuses and allowed them to expand their campuses abroad. In their first meeting with the HRD minister, the institutions won the major concession. "We want them to be totally autonomous. We want them to tell us what works for them," said Sibal.

Always accused of playing big brother in appointments, the ministry has agreed to an independent collegium comprising academics and industrialists that will nominate directors and IIM board members. The government may only choose from their recommendations. Government has also agreed in-principle to IIMs setting up campus abroad, a long time aspiration of many like IIM- Bangalore, whose proposal for a Singapore campus was earlier rejected.

"He has promised us no interference and a great degree of," said Debashish Chatterjee, IIM-Kozhikode. "It is great to hear. It really allows our global aspirations," said Professor P Chandra, Director, IIM-Bangalore. Sources said the concerns about salary weren't discussed at the meeting, but unlike the IITs, the IIMs are more or less satisfied with performance related incentives. Nothing's final yet and the details are being worked out for the next meeting in January, but at least the two parties seem willing to talk and work things out.

Source: NDTV

World Class: Indian students largest group in global classrooms

Over the last couple of years, Indian students made news on international campuses and emerged as the biggest group the world over, going past even the Chinese. In America, India remained the leading country of origin of foreign students for the seventh consecutive time in financial year 2008, increasing by 13% to 94,563 students, according to the Open Doors report - published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In all, over 2 lakh Indian students studied overseas last year. And the attraction of global campuses is not just because of problems at home - such as not enough seats for professional courses or the reservation system. Overseas education is considered a ticket to global careers -and Indian professionals are among the most sought after in the overseas job market. Besides, Indian families still value education over most other investments and parents are willing to avail themselves of loans to send their children for foreign degrees. Indian banks have been providing loans at attractive interest rates in the last few years for education overseas.

In fact, many overseas universities depend on revenue from foreign students and increasingly see India as one of the biggest markets. In 2007-08, for instance, Australian educational institutions earned around A$13.7 billion forex from international students, with as many as 97,000 from India enrolling in courses across the country. However, is the dream run now over? On one side there’s the global slowdown blues and then there are worries over violence against Indian students in Australia, which has in the last few years emerged as the hottest campus destination for Indians. And even though the exact figures for students visas are not yet available from Australia, latest data from the US Embassy - which is available exclusively with SundayET - shows a dramatic 25% decline in the numbers of F-1 student visas issued in India for the financial year 2009 (October 2008-September 2009) at 25,860 against 34,510 issued in FY 2008.

While many experts feel that a short-term fall in the number of students going for education overseas is not surprising, they’re also bullish about the long haul and feel that the number of Indians seeking global degrees will continue to grow in the years to come. “Worldwide economic recession is bound to have an impact on the number of students applying to the USA. However, interest in US higher education continues. Large numbers of students still throng the US university fairs that we organise and we continue to meet students at our centres all over the country seeking guidance on the application procedures. The benefits of US higher education cannot be undermined, an Indian student equipped with US education comes out with a truly global edge,” says Shevanti Narayan, country co-ordinator, educational advising services, United States-India Educational Foundation.

The US is still perceived as one of the most preferred destinations for Indian students, specially in the wake of the attacks in Australia, some of which were racial. “US continues to be a popular destination for Indian students. The quality, choice, value and flexibility are some of the factors that make Indian students choose US over any other country. The US educational experience encourages one to be innovative, creative and think independently. The long-term career prospects of a student are enhanced as the method of teaching is designed to apply theoretical knowledge. The American approach to education is recognized as among the best and most innovative in the world,” Narayan adds.

Australia, on the other hand, will probably suffer a setback as far as popularity among Indian students is concerned. Following the recent spate of attacks against Indian students, the Australian government has initiated steps to improve the quality of education service providers, specially those in the vocational education and training sector. The Australian government as well as the government of Victoria are also looking into issues of law and order and beefing up policing in areas frequented by foreign students. The Indian government too, has initiated steps such as keeping a check on unscrupulous education agents in India. The ministry of overseas Indian affairs is also planning a pre-departure procedure for registration of all Indian students going overseas. The joint working group (JWG) on student mobility set up by both the governments met for the first time recently, agreeing on a number of concrete measures to enhance the interests and welfare of Indian students.

Says Michael A. Opie, manager international students, international office, Charles Darwin University, in the north of Australia, who’s just wrapped up a visit to India: “I was told by all agents that the number of applications are down for Australia and that they expect it to take at least six months to recover. I think the steps taken by the Australian government will help but now that many Indian students are being interviewed before a visa is granted I suspect that this will mean that fewer visas are issued for diploma level studies. This will also reduce the number of students coming to Australia. Prospective students are also aware that there are likely to be changes in migration rules in the near future and this is also causing some hesitation about applying to study in Australia.”

Meanwhile, the UK Border Agency, too, has streamlined the system for student visas under the Tier 4 system which was introduced on March 31 this year and more recently from October 1, all applicants making a Tier 4 student visa application must hold the required funds in their personal or their parents’ bank account for a minimum period of 28 days prior to making their visa application. Despite the new rules, the number of applications for students visas to the UK had increased between April and July 2009. “We are still seeing an increase in the number of students going to the UK. Education is so important to Indian families that they will put this ahead of many other things and continue to invest in their children’s future. I think education is seen as even more important in a time of economic slowdown as it becomes the key route to ensuring a secure career. The new visa regulations have been introduced over the past few months and students and agents are slowly getting used to these and the process is therefore coming easier now that the transition from the old to the new system has taken place. Based on what we are hearing from UK institutions and the UK Border Agency numbers have increased this year,” says Sally Goggin, head education, British Council India and Sri Lanka. In UK, another advantage is that the foreign exchange rate is more favourable for Indian students than many other Western countries. This is a big advantage in terms of tuition fees and living expenses. In 2008, there were over 30,000 students visas for UK were issued in India and conservative estimates show at least a 15% increase over that this year.

Canada, too, is expecting a hike in the number of students from India. Canadian colleges and universities are being actively promoted here and the advantage that Canada offers to Indian students in getting on the fast track to the job market and permanent residence are seen as advantages. “The cost of studying and living in Canada has remained stable at about Rs 4-4.5 lakh per year. Besides, there has been significant interest and a positive vibe generated by the launch of the Canadian experience class visa which as a policy is favourable to international students. Most institutions in Canada have seen an increase in enrolments and some have had record number of applications. This year we are quite optimistic and expect to continue to demonstrate an increased percentage in overall numbers for Canada,” says Maria Mathai, director, Canadian Education Centre, India. It is estimated that there will be at least 4000+ Indian students enrolling in Canadian institutions, up from 31,00 study visas issued last year. New Zealand, too, is expecting more Indian students this year in comparison to last year in view of the fact that international students gain points under the skilled migrant category. Likewise, France has recently allowed Indian students to stay back for six months after their courses to look for jobs.

In fact, more and more Continental European countries are opening their doors wider for Indian students. “Germany has established itself as a very popular research destination for Indian scientists and researchers with over 1000 of them currently pursuing world class research at German universities and research centres. Globalisation of the academic and scientific world has become a reality. The need for globally educated professionals and academicians is evident in the corporate as well as the scientific community. With around 250.000 international students, Germany is the third most popular study destination for foreign students worldwide. To strengthen this position, more and more universities are developing dedicated internationalisation strategies, expanding their networks and customizing their study offers,” says Apoorv Mahendru, head of operations, education network South Asia of the German Academic Exchange Service in Delhi.

This informative article is written by Ishani Duttagupta for The Economic Times, October 11, 2009.

Best time for overseas degree

While the last few years had seen a trend of Indian professionals in Western countries returning to India for jobs, now there are mid-career professionals looking at opportunities to study overseas in the wake of the slowdown and uncertain job market. However, instead of going to the traditional campus destinations, many mid-level executives are opting to go to Asian countries such as Singapore, whose universities have collaborations with international universities. “Many professionals are using the slowdown to undertake either executive MBAs or advanced management programmes. The other courses, which have big takers, are the virtual MBAs and the short-term three-month courses, offered by many international universities. For example, INSEAD, a graduate business school based in France, has a campus in Singapore as well a centre in Abu Dhabi, which seem to be attracting a lot of Indian students,” says E.Balaji, CEO, of HR service provider Ma Foi Management Consultants.

Interestingly, one reason for the trend of more Indian students looking at courses overseas could actually be the stability afforded by the Indian economy. “Immigrant students perceive India as a market of the future and therefore a sure fire job generator compared with almost any other part of the world. Indian employers also find better value in a student educated say, in the US. The number of Indians studying abroad and eventually securing a senior level position in India is about three times that of those staying put in the US,” feels Rajesh AR, vice president of staffing company TeamLease Services. “Indian students are travelling abroad to study and returning to India to work because they perceive prospects to be much better in India than elsewhere. The biggest loss from this trend is to the US, which, hitherto, has been having a majority of Indian students immigrating to study, finding a job and living in America. The Indian immigrant student talent pool - sized at around 75,000 annually - benefits the US to a great extent,” he adds.

Various IT companies which were forced to put a large number of their junior and mid-level employees on the bench are following a policy of actively promoting the concept of sabbaticals. The IT/BPO industry, did see an increase in the number of junior and mid-level employees who chose to use the slowdown as an opportunity to pursue studies. This was seen particularly in those companies, which had an excessive number of people on the bench. While some companies, gave their employees the option of taking sabbaticals with a small pay, some of the others gave them the option of staying on the rolls without pay,” says Prameela Kalive, vice-president and global head, talent management at Zensar Technologies.

This article is written by Lisa Mary Thomson for The Economic Times (October 11, 2009).

Not loansome on foreign campuses

The prospects of getting a job out West may be bleak at the moment, but this hasn’t cowed the spirits of Indian students looking at taking a loan to fund their studies abroad. On the contrary, Indian students seem to have become bigger and bolder in their demands this year, approaching banks for loans which are sizably higher than those disbursed in the past. They also seem to be more willing to take the road less trodden and to move beyond traditional geographies like the US and UK as well as in their choice of courses.

While most banks maintain that the number of overseas loan applications have largely matched up to what they were before the slowdown, the difference this year is that that many students have approached them for loans whose ticket sizes are larger than the maximum limit sanctioned by the banks themselves. “Previously a large number of foreign study loans used to be with the Rs 7.5 lakh range. Now the demand seems to have gone up to Rs 20-25 lakh and occasionally even Rs 30 lakh, which is beyond the bank’s maximum limit of Rs 20 lakh” says an official, from the corporate office of Syndicate Bank. Given the trend in the market, the Oriental Bank of Commerce(OBC) raised its maximum limit for overseas education loans from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh about a year ago. Meanwhile, the State Bank of India, which is the largest lender in the country in terms of issuing education loans, slashed interest rates for education loans, sanctioned between May and September this year.

Another trend that bankers have observed is the increasing interest that Indian students are showing in countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have proved to be slightly cheaper in comparison to an established education hub like the US. At Syndicate Bank for instance, while Australia topped the list in terms of the number of loans disbursed, the largest loans in terms of size were disbursed for education in the US.

There are some programmes which elicit a higher level of caution among sanctioning loans. “Banks have been cautious of lending for pilot courses as well as air hostess training courses,” says SC Sinha, executive director of Syndicate Bank. Despite the large scale layoffs and the dismal employment situation in banking and financial institutions in the West, most banks say that they are still sanctioning loans for foreign degrees in finance and management. The Syndicate bank official, however, claims that while they have seen no change in policy in terms of lending, banks are generally cautious with regard to education loans.

This article is written by Lisa Mary Thomson for The Economic Times (October 11, 2009).

US F1 student visas fall 25%

There were less F1 student visas for the US issued across India in financial year 2009 (Oct 08-Sep 09) than the previous FY08. In fact, 25,860 issuances in FY09 actually translates into a whopping 25% decline over 34,510, which was the number issued last year. Most experts and consultants feel that the fall in numbers of Indian students choosing to go to the US for higher studies is because of the fall in financial aid offered by institutions rather than any visa strictures. “The US student visas are streamlined now and the reason for less students going to the US from India is probably because educational institutions are offering less financial aid in view of the economic slowdown. In fact, endowments in US colleges have been hit in a big way,” says Poorvi Chothani, Mumbai based immigration lawyer and founder and principal member of law firm LawQuest.

The influential Open Doors report published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is scheduled to be published next month, will provide a detailed break-up of the numbers of international students at colleges and universities in the US. “Till 2007-08, India remained the leading sending country of origin of international students to the US. This was for the seventh consecutive year, with an increase by 13% to 94,563. However, this year, in view of the slowdown, there could be a different trend,” feels Ajit Motwani, India Director of IIE.

And even as most experts agree that lower financial aid and scholarships are the reason for the drop in number of Indian students going to the US, many are hoping that as the recovery kicks in the numbers will improve. “Going to the US for higher education is an investment decision and in India we’re now seeing all the markets reviving and investors coming back. I think that next year, the number of students going to the US will again increase as many are now making decisions to go and doing the required paperwork,” says Mumbaibased education consultant Karan Gupta.

And even in FY 09, many students have received substantial funding in a range of disciplines to study in America. “We have had success with several students receiving substantial funding as well. Many students who went on to pursue some new disciplines such as fashion marketing, neuroscience, pastoral studies, petroleum engineering, imaging sciences, oceanography and global development economics received financial assistance. In general, students applying for research programmes continue to receive funding despite the drop this year,” says Shevanti Narayan, Country Co-ordinator at the US-India Educational Foundation.

This report is by Ishani Duttagupta which appeared in October 11, 2009 edition of The Economic Times.

Medical colleges may have to report adverse reactions of medicine

In a bid to tighten quality checks on medicines, the health ministry is planning to make it mandatory for all medical colleges and hospitals to report unwanted and negative responses of medicines available in the market. The ministry has also asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to approve only those medical colleges in future that have such a system in place, a health ministry official said. The move is significant because despite a ban across the world, many medicines with severe side effects and adverse reactions continue to be legally available in India. “The availability of such medicines is possible because in the absence of a robust adverse drug reactions (ADRs) reporting system, the drugs controller general of India (DCGI) often do not have enough reports on the efficacy of drugs sold in the country,” the official said.

While adverse drug reactions provide crucial inputs for lifesaving medicines, its awareness level among hospitals are poor. Medical experts say a very small number of adverse drug reactions are reported by hospitals in the country. Initially, the government will plan to identify ten public medical colleges in each zone, the official said. According to him, the government will set up model pharmacovigilance centre in each of these ten hospitals. Later on, all the hospitals will be asked to follow the set path to build similar centres. This would enable DCGI to keep a stringent check on the efficacy of medicines and their side effects, the official said.

Medical experts say that there is an immense need for reporting adverse drug reactions and post-marketing surveillance, as medicines are evaluated for toxicity in a limited group of patients before marketing. “The limitations of clinical trials means that when a drug is first marketed, much may be known about its efficacy while relatively little may be known about its safety,” said a medical expert. Once reported, the DCGI will analyse these adverse drug reactions and data related to important medicines would also be posted on its website, the official said.

Report by Sushmi Dey - The Economic Times, October 12, 2009

Initial private offers at IIMs promising

If pre-placement offers (PPOs) were a trickle in June and July, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) students are now being flooded with such offers, quelling all fears of a hiring freeze and confirming India’s premier business schools’ return to the employment cycles of top-notch companies. “While the early PPOs were extended primarily by consulting firms, now investment banks and private equity firms too are offering PPOs,” said IIMA placement committee media co-ordinator Vivek Jain. “Many of the offers are for international roles in places like Europe, USA, Singapore and Hong Kong. We expect many more PPOs in the coming days,” he added.

These job offers have not only brought cheer to IIM campuses, but also point to a better placement season than last year, when B-schools struggled to get get calls from recruiters for all students. Even as B-schools are reluctant to share numbers, ETscoured the campus and quizzed students, teaching staff and sources across institutes to get a drift of the PPO atmosphere. Compared to July, when 7-10% of batches across the IIMs at Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta had received PPOs, the figure has risen 15-20% at these institutes.

Offers again pouring
IIMs at Lucknow and Kozhikode too are seeing a much better flow of job offers compared to last year. IIMA, for instance, has already received 60-70 PPOs so far, its students told ET. Though the institute’s placement committee did not disclose official figures, students confirmed that after a lull in August, job offers have again started pouring in the last six weeks. Companies that have extended job offers to students at IIMA include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, HUL, P&G, UBS and Citigroup. In mid-September last year, only 20% of the batch of 250 had received PPOs. This year, the batch size at IIMA is close to 300 students.

Likewise, IIMB too did not disclose any official PPO numbers, but a student aware of the development said the institute has already received around 50 such offers. The placement representative at the institute was not available for comment. On the other hand, placement circles at IIMC said although the PPOs are lesser as compared to the same time last year, the expected rise will come only in the next couple of months. “Apart from firms sectors like finance, consulting, marketing and general management, IIMC has also got PPOs from a few IT companies and Wall Street banks,” said IIMC external relations secretary Paul Savio. “Markets are definitely picking up and we are expecting a better Placement 2010,” he added. Meanwhile, IIMK has seen a 30-40% increase in the number of PPOs compared to last year. Like others, the institute has kept the exact numbers under wraps. However, the placement committee member, Rohan Jaikishen, said the number of verbal confirmations from companies was also in double-digits. “Concrete offers have started coming in from the beginning of September and the companies that have made offers include ITC, American Express Bank and Futures First,” he added.

Last year, IIMK had received only 20 PPOs. The batch size at IIMK is 308. Mr Jaikishen confirmed that PPOs at IIMK have primarily come from the financial sector so far, with marketing companies coming in a close second. Similarly, IIML placement chairman Prof RL Raina said at least 10% of the current batch at IIML has received PPOs from companies. The current batch size at IIML is 320. “This number is quite significant since IIM Lucknow has the largest batch size across all IIMs,” he said. He, too, expects the number to rise in the coming weeks.

According to Prof Raina, international consulting and finance firms “like McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and JP Morgan, besides marketing majors like Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Diageo have already confirmed PPOs”. “Tata Administrative Services is another company that has offered job offers at IIML, with companies operating in the renewable energy space also showing a keen interest in IIM Lucknow students,” he added. In sync with the climate, Prof Raina saw 2010 as more promising than the previous year.

Despite prolonging the placement process last year, IIMs had to be contend with a heavy baggage of realistic salaries and less number of job offers. This year too, most of the institutes have kept their placement season open much beyond the usual time frame seeing the job engines chugging once again.

This report by Sreeradha D Basu & Mahima Puri appeared in The Economic Times of October 12, 2009.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Education for growth opportunities - The Economic Times

The recent meltdown has forced a new debate among rich nations — about missed economic opportunities due to an underperforming education sector. It has spurred a new vigour in official spending on education. According to a McKinsey report, the current US GDP would have been higher by 9% to 16%, that is, $1.3 to 2.3 trillion, if the high school pass outs had been equipped with the requisite skills. Strangely for us even as a developing economy, spending is not the issue, but educational reform is, if we want to spur our economic opportunity. Despite an impressive annual $55 billion outlay for education, India suffers from a double whammy of missing social and economic opportunities. A national average dropout rate of 50% means about $15 billion spent annually on education is unproductive, if not a complete waste. Each percentage reduction in this rate can add our GDP — some say, at least a 25%.

In spite of a mammoth spend, we continue to have large disconnects in our system that stymie student development. These force a mismatch between the student’s developmental needs and economic requirements of employment.
Educational reforms need to focus on these disconnects in our system. Some simple yet far reaching take-aways from over two decades of global research across over 1,00,000 schools, 300 colleges and 130 universities by MGRM, (Global Education Research ©MGRM 2009; recognised by Ministry of Science & Technology) a global educational rehabilitation based research initiative, are relevant here. This work suggests that education system should adopt a framework of continuum for all its key stake holders — namely students, teachers, administrators and alumni to address issues of educational reforms including regulation, capacity building and inclusion.

Read complete article by Ashwani Windlass in The Economic Times, October 13, 2009.

Mutual Funds: Value averaging to be new investment strategy

A new investment theory is gaining favour with wealth managers and mutual funds, something that could soon replace the conventional systematic investment plans (SIP) strategy. Termed value averaging investment (VAI), the technique allows investors to determine the size of investment needed (at the time of investing) to get desired returns. Value averaging works much like rupee cost averaging, which forms the basis of systematic investment plans.

“While SIP investments are made on fixed dates, irrespective of market conditions, VA investments are made on dates when the markets look investible. The best aspect of VAI is that it enables investors to buy stocks at dips — a facility that is not really possible in SIPs,” said Nipun Mehta, head of Societe Generale Private Banking India.

In value averaging, the investor sets a target growth rate or amount for his portfolio each month, and then adjusts the next month’s contribution, according to the relative gain or shortfall made on the original asset base. To cite an example, investor A needs to invest Rs 1,000 (calculated using statistical formulae) every month to get 15% return (on his investments) over a time-frame of 10 years. A invests Rs 1,000 in the beginning of the month (usually when the market is trading lower); at the end of first month A’s investment has declined to Rs 800 as a result of the further fall in market. To correct the course to target growth rate, A invests Rs 1,200, marking net term investments to Rs 2,000. Conversely, had the markets gained and A’s investment surged in value by Rs 200 (taking the total value to Rs 1,200 at the end of the first month), he would only have to pay Rs 800 in the second month.

“Under VAI, investors contribute to their portfolios in such a way that the portfolio balance increases by an amount calculated by a formula-based technique, regardless of market fluctuations. As a result, when the market declines, the investor contributes more and when the market goes up, the investor contributes less,” said Anil Rego, CEO of Right Horizons — a wealth management firm.

Though VAI has no historical references, returns (asset growth) could well be very close (or a bit high) to those offered by investments through SIPs. While VAI enables flexible investing, there is a good possibility that the fund manager may not be holding cash at the time of a sudden dip in market value. Another negative aspect to VAI is the fact that as the investor’s asset base grows, shortfalls (in case of market slumps) become too large to replace (especially for retail investors). While several fund houses are planning to introduce VAI plans on existing MF schemes, the benchmark MF has attached value averaging transfer plan (VTP) in its derivative fund, equity fund and derivatives opportunities fund.

Source: The Economic Times (This article is written by Shailesh Menon)

IIM professors earn more from consultancy - The Economic Times

India's bulge-bracket factories are yet to catch up with their global counterparts in terms of faculty remuneration, but corporates queuing up to have a taste of their expertise are making the professors rich, and the institutes richer. Faculty members at some of the top-ranking Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) earn more from consulting activities than what they get from these famed institutes as salary. While an IIM faculty gets, on an average, around Rs. 800,000 as salary per year, he usually makes Rs. 1.2 million in consulting fees after sharing 45% of that with the institute.

A norm in the West, the faculty consultancy system was kicked off in India by IIM-A with the caveat that the school will take almost half the fee as cut. According to IIM-A officials, consultancy fees that India Inc gives to the IIMs have gone up by 16% from last year. Over the last few years, PepsiCo, L&T, Canara Bank, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing, VSNL, LIC and Bank of Baroda, among several other corporate houses have approached IIM-A for consulting as well as in-house training. “They usually ask for middle and junior level training programmes for their executives. Some companies even hold their programmes round the year,” a faculty member told ET.

IIM-A has a 90-strong faculty, of which 70% actively participate in activities that fetch them an average Rs. 2 million annually (net consultation income plus net salary). The amount for many active faculty goes up to Rs. 3-3.5 million depending on the number of consulting projects and in-house training programmes undertaken. The institute earned about Rs. 206 million as consulting income in 2008-09, with the percentage growth over the last three years being about 16% per year, institute officials said. However, unlike their counterparts in India, most of the Western B-schools don’t insist on getting a cut from the faculty consulting fees. In Harvard Kennedy School, an institute with a focus on public policy management, a faculty is even allowed to set up his own consulting company and enjoy tax deduction on earnings. “Faculty salaries are already so high in B-schools in the US that a faculty’s consulting earnings hardly exceed his salary. This happens, but only in a few individual cases. In IIM-A, the salary is so low that consulting earnings look big when compared with a faculty’s salaries,” said a senior faculty member.

The institutes allow the faculty take up advisory services for the industry as per their expertise in the field to help them gain insight into the functioning of the company and also generate revenue for the institute. As per provisions made by the institute, a faculty can do a maximum 53 days of consulting, charging Rs. 100,000 for a day’s consulting. On an average, a faculty member contributes 20-25 days in a year to consulting, which fetch him Rs. 1.6 million after sharing the 45% of his revenue with the institute. At a few other Indian B-Schools, the faculty-institute ratio is 70:30. “Among IIMs, the IIM-A gets the maximum volume of consultancy,” said a senior faculty member.

Over the last few years, the per day consulting charge at IIM-A has gone up from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 100,000. IITs too have set up such a system, but income from technological consulting is way below the norm in management consulting. Faculty salaries assumed prominence after the IITs raised a pay hike demand with the HRD ministry. While the issue has been settled with the premier technology institutes, their management peers chose not to pursue it aggressively. In fact, the IIM-A board of governors decided to adopt the MHRD pay structure.

Another IIM-A faculty pointed out that a pay revision was needed as not all faculty were involved in consulting and allied activities. Also, consulting not being an assured income, it was imperative for the institute to have a higher base salary to attract newer faculty. The IIM salaries are taken as a benchmark by top B-Schools like Symbiosis, Pune and IMT, Ghaziabad while fixing their own pay structure. However, as it turns out, the total earning of a majority of the top IIM faculty remains much above others. ICFAI B-Schools-Ahmedabad (IBSA) Director P Bala Bhaskaran said there is no comparison to the IIMs, when it comes to the consulting incomes. “We pay our faculty members a little above the UGC pay structure, but we also encourage our faculty members to involve themselves with MDPs, consulting and other activities to earn extra money,’’ said Nirma Institute of Management Director C Gopalkrishnan.

Source: The Economic Times (This article is written by Kumar Anand)

New Indian central universities to hold common entrance test

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has asked the newly created central universities to conduct a combined entrance examination. Intent on making these universities into global centres of excellence, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has said that his ministry would take steps to ensure that foreign faculty could teach at these universities. The minister has also suggested a private-public partnership in academic activities of the universities.

At present, guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC) do not allow for foreign faculty. Mr. Sibal said that the UGC guidelines for recruitment of faculty will be amended to allow foreign faculty at these universities. Besides foreign faculty, members of the private sector and professionals would be encouraged to teach at these universities. The minister met with the vice chancellors of 15 newly formed central universities on October 13, 2009. Describing the meeting as ‘unique’, Mr. Sibal said it was important that all the VCs met together, as “we wanted each one of them to know what the other was doing”. The idea was to avoid “duplication”, which has been a problem with the Indian university system.

“We want these central universities to have a bottom up approach, and keep in mind the state’s ecosystem,” the minister said. “These universities will design courses keeping in mind the peculiar problem and ecosystem of the state. The courses will be unique to each university,” the minister said. Outlining the special courses to be designed by each university, Mr. Sibal said these institutions can explore courses on climatic conditions of the region to mitigate the impact of natural disasters like tsunami, cyclone, flood and glacier melting.

But this should not preclude greater interaction among the universities. The UGC has been asked to set up a panel of experts to coordinate the activities of these universities. “We want to create an eco-system that allows for the mobility of students and faculty”, Mr. Sibal said. It is as part of this effort, that the MHRD has suggested a common entrance exam. To begin with this would cover only these 15 central universities, “over a period of time we may bring in the existing central universities as well.” The single entrance would simplify the admission process for students, who would otherwise be required to appear for multiple exams for admission to the university of their choice.

Source: The Economic Times

Rejuvenating education through FDI - The Economic Times

EDUCATION in India is undergoing an overhaul. Starting with the recently enacted right to free education statute, the HRD ministry is already working on legislation for an education tribunal (to resolve disputes between students, institutions and teachers) and a Bill to establish multiple private accreditation agencies, monitored by a regulator. Deliberations are also on to set up the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), a single autonomous body to replace the existing education councils, something also suggested by the Yash Pal Committee. And while recent reports about the PMO’s intervention on the proposed Foreign Education Providers Bill may require the legislation to be vetted afresh, but when Kapil Sibal advocates FDI in the education sector as a priority for the government, one can assume he has convincing arguments in support of foreign participation. The proposed Bill will help supplement government spending on higher education and is generating a lot of excitement among potential investors.

Read this interesting article by Satvik Varma in October 16, 2009 issue of The Economic Times.

India keen on Indo-US Education Council

US under secretary of state William Burns on October 15 called on the Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal to firm up the proposal for setting up an India-US Education Council. Mr. Sibal is generally not even a whistle stop for senior officials of the US state department. However, with the government signalling its keenness to open up the education sector to foreign players, Mr. Burns’s second visit within four months is significant. The meeting focused on the proposed council. It will include representatives from industry and the education sector. Mr. Sibal will be travelling to the US later this month, ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in November.

The areas of collaboration include research, distance education, vocational education, skill development, exchange of faculty, models of public-private partnership and also expertise for the setting up of universities. The ministry is keen to tie up with the world’s leading universities to ensure that its “innovation universities” are a class apart from the pack. Mr. Sibal would like to firm up MoUs with US universities to collaborate with the proposed innovation universities. Among the US universities that are being approached are Yale, Stanford and MIT. During his visit, Mr. Sibal will meet with American policy makers, including senators and congressmen, government officials and university officials.

Source: The Economic Times

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The University of Newcastle, Australia opens campus in Sydney

The University of Newcastle, Australia will tonight officially open its new Sydney CBD presence. Offering postgraduate studies in Business and Accountancy, and English language studies, the Sydney presence has been purpose-built within space on Bathurst Street. The first cohort of students commenced studies in August this year and is expected to complete studies in May 2010.
Vice-Chancellor of The University of Newcastle, Australia, Professor Nicholas Saunders said that the Sydney campus was particularly attractive to international students. “Newcastle has been delivering postgraduate education for more than 23 years and was one of the first universities in Australia to offer a Master of Business Administration program. While we have many international students in Newcastle, there are those who wish to live in Sydney but also study at our University. This campus gives them the opportunity. We are delighted to have a Sydney presence, which adds to our campuses in Newcastle, on the Central Coast, at Port Macquarie, in Singapore and in Hong Kong.”

Forty-eight students are currently enrolled in the Master of Business and Master of Professional Accounting programs, with a further 20 enrolled in ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses). Students are from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The Sydney presence features wireless internet throughout, a library, computer laboratory, study areas, lecture theatres, on-site teaching and learning support and fully integrated audiovisual facilities for video conferencing.

The University of Newcastle Sydney presence will be officially opened tonight, Tuesday 13 October, at Bathurst Street, Sydney.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Saunders and Chancellor Professor Trevor Waring will join Newcastle alumni Ms Patricia Forsythe (former NSW MLC), Ms Emily Powys and Ms Alison Hawkins, along with more than 100 guests, for the official opening.

Source: The University of Newcastle, Australia Media Release

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