Friday, February 18, 2011

MNC lure fades as Indian recruiters hold sway on campus

The craze for an MNC job is finally fading. B-school students are veering towards domestic recruiters this placement season, as Indian companies acquire the professional edge and go global. At Xavier Institute of Management-Bhubaneswar, five Indian companies topped the recruitment charts Polaris, TCS, HCL Technologies, ICICI Bank and SBI Capital Markets.The story is no different on campuses like TA Pai Management Institute, XLRI and Welingkar Institute of Management, which have nearly completed placements.

Students at the IIMs, who are gearing up for placements, too believe a career with Indian companies is as challenging and rewarding as it is at an MNC. "Indian companies have changed from the earlier stagnant growth for employees and undefined job profile. Today, public sector companies too are projecting growth prospects to students," says IIM Indore Chairperson (Placements) Prashant Salwan. Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), one of the early birds in the current placement season, saw domestic firms like Aditya Birla Group, ITC, Godrej Consumer, Bharti Airtel, Tata Motors, Hero Honda and Axis Bank recruiting with increased vigour. "There was a time when a job offer with a foreign position would trigger excitement amongst all the students. Often, the entire batch would apply for it. Not any more," says Munish Bhargava, Corporate and Placement Advisor. Students have become more role and job profile-oriented, which Indian companies are catering to, he adds.
The recession-proof nature of the Indian economy, which is expected to expand by 8.6% this fiscal compared with 8% last year, is another draw for students. At the same time, globalisation of Indian corporates and Indian innovation over the past few years have played their part. The launch of the world's cheapest car Nano, consumer goods companies like Godrej and Dabur looking to go global, Tata Motors buying Jaguar Land Rover, Hindalco's Novelis acquisition are just a few instances that have left a lasting impression on young minds. A recent study by consultancy firm Towers Watson has given the highest score to Indian employers in the area of career advancement opportunities. Almost 60% of the surveyed companies reported that opportunities for employees have improved over the past 12 months, in contrast to China at 54%. Developed economies like Japan and Singapore reported just 19% and 28% respectively.
More than anything else, hierarchical barriers have dissolved in domestic companies, as has the babu culture, where promoters would have the last word in everything. Senior executives now enjoy empowerment in their jobs and independence in decision-making. "Successful brands attract both consumers and employees. Earlier, India had very few such home-grown brands," says Future Group (Head - Private Brands) Devendra Chawla, who has had stints in both MNCs and domestic companies. Indian companies are creating new marketplaces, innovating, leading, winning consumers as well as offering meaningful, satisfying job roles which allow talent to reach their potential, he adds.
"Indian companies have become employers of choice over the past two to three years. Students are increasingly looking at the job profile and not necessarily money," says IIM-Lucknow Director Devi Singh. Experienced professionals too are seeing improved scope for growth in domestic companies, he adds. Salaries at Indian companies and MNCs are on par too. While such differences were as high as even 100% just four to five years ago, the slowdown has rationalised the gap. It is currently not more than 10% to 20% in entry-level and senior positions.
The Towers Watson study quoted earlier said Indian employers score relatively better in terms of salaries. While 37% of employers in the Asia-Pacific region believe they provide their employees an opportunity to earn higher levels of compensation to a great extent, the number is almost 54 % for India. Compensation differences have narrowed to negligible levels over the past few years, says Santrupt Misra, Director (HR) of Aditya Birla Group. The group offers pay packages that have made it one of the most preferred recruiters on campus. Dabur too claims to offer salaries that are 15% to 20% less than its global counterparts like Unilever and Procter & Gamble. "But our job profile will be much more challenging. In fact, in the IIMs, we are also going to offer foreign postings to the students," says Dabur India Executive Director (HR) A. Sudhakar.
In the first quarter of 2011, India, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Turkey and Singapore reported the strongest hiring plans, according to a recent survey by US-based HR firm Manpower. "Management practices in domestic companies are no less inferior to their global counterparts," says Misra. Globally, there is a lot of consolidation in the corporate world, and Indian executives find that unsettling, he says. In India, the downside of consolidation is not that bad, as job losses are curtailed, adds Misra. Ankul Mishra, a graduating batch student in one of the IIMs sums it up: "If the past decade was all about foreign MNCs, this decade will surely be about Indian MNCs. Be it job profile, salary, growth prospects or prestige nothing is less these days in Indian companies."

Source: The Economic Times, February 18, 2011

Campus Placements - Students eye better pay and job roles

The good times are well and truly back on campuses. Several leading B-schools including XLRI-Jamshedpur, XIM-Bhubaneswar and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) have wrapped up their placements with big-ticket salaries and offers. Laterals too, have seen an unprecedented high, with salaries surging by as much as 25%. And while final placements for most of the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) kick off in March, some institutes like IIM-Ahmedabad and ISB-Hyderabad have already got off to a rocking start.

Among other things, the placements at institutes like IIM-A and XLRI are indicators of the good times, believe students. "The economy is doing well. And if Placements 2010 saw a rebound, this time its that much more. At IIM-Calcutta, the number of pre-placement offers has jumped significantly, laterals have been going great and there's a greater diversity of offers from big names across sectors," says second-year student at IIM-Calcutta, Shreyans Mehta. Mansi Chitalia of IIM-Ahmedabad says improved market conditions have played a big role in the increased recruiter participation. "This is true across sectors, be it financial services, consulting, systems or marketing. Companies are also much more specific in terms of talent needs and are selecting campuses accordingly." She, like many across IIM campuses, feel its likely to be a record-breaking year in terms of number of offers, and company participation. Most campuses have larger batch sizes this time around, but are placing more students in the same time period compared with last year. Salaries too are pegged to hit new highs.
There's more reason for cheer. "During laterals, companies have offered senior profiles this time round, like some MNCs, which have offered the area sales manager role to students with three years work experience. This was something not seen in the past two years," says Dhar. At IIM-Indore, second-year student Shyam Sunder R. too feels things are looking up. "Clearly the growth in the Indian economy is translating into better jobs and better packages. All sectors,including banking, consulting, IT, FMCG are doing well. Laterals have been good and the number of pre-placement offers is way more than last year. We are all upbeat. Better profiles and bigger packages are on the cards." An IIM-Lucknow second-year student who has been placed during the laterals is gung-ho about the number and the quality of offers as well as the salaries. "Laterals are a precursor to the finals,so they are likely to be rocking as well."

Source: The Economic Times, February 18, 2011

B.Com., B.Sc. students pip B-school grads to jobs

One of the most enduring family-room debates what should our child study is undergoing a transformation, probably led by the fact that the line between a once trite graduate course and an intense professional programme is blurring. Indian IT majors will probably tell you they were the first to discover the graduates when they invaded science colleges in Mumbai after facing a drought of programme coders. What started as a hunt for B.Sc. graduates about five years ago has not just picked pace, but also expanded.

Accounting and auditing firms are lapping up commerce students who have studied banking, and investment firms and marketing agencies are substituting their requirements for MBAs with those who have just tasted management education at the bachelors level in the BMS programme.

Last week, there was a frenzy on the Jai Hind College (Mumbai) campus when Google short-listed over 50 students. HR College (Mumbai), this year, was host to all the big four accounting firms. While Pricewaterhouse Coopers visited the undergraduate college for the first time, McKinsey is likely to storm in next year, said Placement Co-ordinator Bidia Batheja.

Global firms are hiring our students and placing them in exciting positions. Our students are not being approached for frontdesk or BPO jobs anymore. The average campus salary is in the range of Rs. 300,000, said KC College Principal Manju Nichani.

Management students often wonder how salary levels for them and for commerce students are similar. After all, management students who have invested good money would like to get higher salaries. We tell them that management students can have an edge over commerce graduates by taking one more degree, said Asha Aggrawal, Placement Officer at the college.

The trend at Edelweiss is similar to many other investment companies. Shaily Gupta, Group Head for HR, said they hire 200% more undergraduate commerce students than the candidates they select from B-schools now. Not only are they more affordable, but the undergraduates come with no baggage and have a high learning orientation, she added.

Source: The Times of India, February 18, 2011

No permanent IIT foreign faculty

In a major setback to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) plan, the Ministry for External Affairs (MEA) has rejected a proposal to liberalise visa norms to allow foreign teachers to take up permanent posts at the IITs. The MEA has refused to change the rules under which each foreign faculty m ember at the IITs needs to re-obtain a work visa every five years, top government and IIT sources have confirmed to HT.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal had on September 11, 2010 announced the plan to allow the IITs to fill up to 10% of their permanent teaching posts with foreign faculty. The proposal — first reported by HT on September 2, 2010 — was approved by the IIT Council — the highest decision making body of the IITs — and is aimed at reducing a massive faculty crunch plaguing the IITs.

But the MEA’s refusal to allow foreign faculty to join with visas of longer duration than five years means that the IITs will not be able to offer permanent posts to foreign faculty. "We will need to continue to offer contractual appointments --- something we wanted to, and quite frankly, need to change," an IIT Director said.

Each IIT is facing a faculty crunch between 15 and 40% with a total of over 1,000 faculty posts vacant across the premier engineering schools. The Institutes have over the past year however received a number of applications from foreign faculty, including Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) keen to teach at the IITs. The IITs are arguing that permanent posts would help them lure the best of foreign teachers. All foreign teachers are at present required to teach as visiting or ad-hoc faculty.

Source: Hindustan Times, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

IIMs trash HRD suggestions on teaching hours, smaller boards

The faculties of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have trashed the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)-appointed committee reports on the new governance structure and teaching load, saying that they are based on incorrect data.

Faculty bodies at IIM-Calcutta and IIM-Bangalore have passed unanimous resolutions to set aside the reports which suggest reducing the size of IIM boards and societies and asking each faculty to teach for 160 hours a year. Other IIMs are likely to follow suit seeking broader consultation on the proposed reforms.

"We believe that these recommendations are the outcome of several wrong assumptions and incorrect data and would not allow IIMs to become global leaders. These changes, if implemented, will have a negative impact on the morale of the faculty," IIM-B faculty said in a memorandum submitted to board of governors chairman Mukesh Ambani last week. They have now called for a fresh panel involving alumni and eminent academics to create a governance structure for long-term development of IIMs.

A five-member committee headed by IIM-Ranchi chairman R C Bhargava had recommended reducing the size of the IIM boards and societies by almost half, and allowing corporate bodies, individuals and alumni to become members of the IIM society by paying Rs. 200 million, Rs. 50 million and Rs. 30 million respectively.

The IIM-B faculty rejected the idea, saying "this will lead to a major structural change in the ownership of IIMs and would be completely against public interest. We believe that contribution for the society should be more in the nature of developing institutions rather than owning the institutions".

The dons at the elite B-schools have also taken exception to the MHRD's decision to fix a minimum teaching load for faculty which will be the same for all IIMs.

Source: The Times of India, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

PMO settles turf war between health and HRD ministries

The Health and Human Resource Development ministries have reached a compromise on regulating medical education and research. The National Commission for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH), piloted by the Health Ministry, will set the standards for university-level medical education. On the other hand, the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), piloted by the HRD Ministry, will set the policy guidelines for all medical research. Universities will also be free to have more exacting higher standards for which they will deal with NCHER.

The agreement brokered by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) will end the turf war between the Health and HRD ministries. This could mean that both bills could be finalised for introduction in the Budget session of parliament. There appears to be a move to bring in Rajashekharan Pillai, Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), as the chairperson of NCHER.

The need to apportion medical education between the two proposed regulators became necessary after HRD ministry appointed taskforce on NCHER suggested that higher education in all disciplines should be brought under the proposed over-arching regulator. The exception was agricultural education, since agriculture is a state subject. The move was opposed by Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Law Minister Veerappa Moily, as both medical and legal education were to be brought under the NCHER.

The Health Ministry argued medical education was linked to the provision of health services. The Health Ministry's regulator, NCHRH, was asked to oversee the availability of well trained and competent medical personnel on the ground. This it was argued would only be possible if there had control over medical education. The NCHER task force argued since all education was governed by the varsity system and there were multi-disciplinary areas of research, all education should come under one regulator.

The difference of opinion resulted in an intense turf war. So much so, that the Prime Minister's Office had to intervene to resolve the situation. In a series of meetings presided over by TKA Nair, Principal Secretary to the PMO, the two sides sought to work out a compromise.

Source: The Economic Times, February 16, 2011

IT sector in need of hands in all domains: Infosys CEO

The IT sector is presently recruiting at a strong clip, with a demand for skills in multiple verticals, according to Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO and MD of Infosys. Ahead of expansion plans for the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) here of which he is chariman, Gopalakrishnan told ET that his company had already made 25,000 offers during this financial year. "We have made 25,000 offers in campuses this financial year, and our plans for the coming year will be disclosed in April," he said, adding that there was a strong demand across various disciplines in the IT sector.

The IIITM-K is setting up a residential campus at the Technocity here, focusing on high power computing and information system management. IIITM-K’s Director-in-charge, Elizabeth Sherly said courses had been designed with the congruence of academics, research and industry requirements in mind. She said the 10-acre campus for IIITM-K in the Technocity campus would help the institute raise itself to a higher level, with the student capacity also moving up from the present level of 120 post graduate students to about 700 students pursuing Masters, M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes.

The institute is proposing to launch four new schools in its new campus, namely schools for computer science and engineering, computational science, informatics, and humanities and social sciences. Sherly said inter-disciplinary education was a key area of focus, enabling students to tune their skills to contextual requirements.

Source: The Economic Times, February 16, 2011

For laterals, IIM pay packets take vertical route

IIMs across the country have reported up to a 25% increase in salaries offered to experienced professionals this year. The highest salary in the lateral placements process so far this year is Rs. 70,00,000 (US$ 150,000), offered to a student at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K), by commodities trading company Olam International. Olam has also offered this salary to students at IIM-Bangalore, IIM-Calcutta and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). In some cases, lateral placements, which mark the beginning of the placements process at IIMs every year, have also reported up to 75% increase in the number of offers this year, over 2010.

Although the older IIMs — including the top three of Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta — declined to share figures, the biggest gainers as of now appear to be the new institutes. IIM-K, for instance, has reported an increase of 20-25% in the average salary being offered by companies across sectors such as consulting, FMCG, financial services and IT. The highest domestic package on offer is Rs. 3 million, up from Rs. 2.8 million last year, while the highest international package is Rs. 7 million. Several firms such as Fujitsu, Lenovo, Thomas Cook, SunTec, EXL and the Manipal Group have offered senior managerial positions to candidates with as little as three years of experience.

"With the economy looking up, placement offers have been much better this year," IIM-K Placements Committee Member Nikhil Rawat said. "Students have been able to secure profiles of their choice, and salaries have been significantly higher." ICICI Bank and Deloitte Consulting have hired 16 students each from IIM-K this year, while Cognizant Business Consulting has picked up 13. Deloitte's Chief People Officer Dhananjay Bansod said the company is offering 10-15% higher salaries at the IIMs this year, which works out to anywhere between Rs. 1 million and Rs. 1.3 million. The firm is looking to increase its manpower to 15,000 this year, about 3,000 more than the March 2010 headcount. "We expect a growth rate of 15% in India this financial year," he added.

"This year 85% of the companies will be hiring fresh, according to our survey. This means there is a renewed competition amongst companies to get the best of talent from across institutes, on the back of a revived economy. They have to even compete with international companies for candidates. It's natural for them to offer competitive such salaries," says Shamita Chatterjee, business leader, information products and solutions, Mercer India.

IIM-Indore has seen a 10-25% rise in salaries for experienced candidates this year, with pay packets ranging between Rs. 1 million and Rs. 2.5 million. Consulting and IT have been major recruiters with firms such as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, PwC, Cognizant Business Consulting, Infosys, Wipro Consulting, HCL and TCS picking up candidates. Besides these, companies such as Reliance Power, L&T, RIL and Adani Group have also recruited from IIM, Indore.

Salaries across IIMs had plunged by 25-30% after the global economic crisis hit the world in 2008-09. However, 2009-10 onwards, salaries started recovering by 10-20%. At IIM-K, for instance, average salary in 2007-08 was Rs. 1.48 million, which fell to Rs. 1.01 million in 2008-09 and rose to about Rs. 1.2 million in 2009-10.

IIM-Calcutta, which is just a month into the process, has already received 225 offers, including pre-placement ones. This is an increase of 75% from last year. "With more than 50 firms participating in the process this year, international companies such as Barclays, Olam International, McKinsey & Co, BCG, Bain & Co, AT Kearney, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have notched up an unprecedented number of hires.

Some of them had hired very few people, or given the institutes a complete miss during the slowdown," said IIM-C External Relations Secretary Abhijeet Kamath. IIM-Bangalore, with a batch size of 348, has already received 96 offers from 31 companies. IIM-B career development services head Sapna Agarwal cautioned that though the number of lateral offers is higher this time than during the corresponding period last year, this could also be because of a larger batch size.

Source: The Economic Times, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pearson wants to establish itself as an education company

Pearson Plc, which recently bought a controlling stake of Indian education company TutorVista, wants to shed public perception of a publishing firm and establish itself more as an education service provider. Pearson India Chairman John Makinson, who recently visited New Delhi, said in an interview that school education is now one of its key focus in the country, which can be replicated in other nations such as South Africa. He also said the Indian government’s decision to open up the education market is a welcome move for global education firms. Edited excerpts:

How much is acquiring TutorVista going to help Pearson?
For the last three years, we have been focusing in the Indian education space. The two key areas are vocational education and school education space. Two years back, we had two partnerships, one with TutorVista, which was largely an online tutoring firm, and the other with Educomp Solutions Ltd., on vocational education. We had really not thought about the school education space. After talking to the TutorVista management, we realized they have a vision for school education. It sounded sensible to us and we thought of honing that in India. The challenge for a company like Pearson is it's a large opportunity, which is scalable. It has to be delivered at a relatively low price. We have software, platform, we had other resources but we did not have the dedicated culture of growing schools. By combining the entrepreneurial skill of TutorVista with our global experience as a global education company, we thought we can achieve more success here.

Do you seek to grow as a bouquet in the education service sector by offering K-12 (class I through XII) education, vocational education and test-prep centres?
Yes, we see opportunity to grow in India in a whole lot of areas. We see opportunity in testing, in English language teaching, teachers training, in higher education space like curriculum designing. Some will be delivered through our partner Educomp Solutions in the vocational education space and some through this effort where we have acquired the majority stake in TutorVista. Some we may develop on our own. We will look at it case-by-case. If it is expanding schools we will do it through TutorVista and if it is college education (curricula and publishing), then we will do it by ourselves.

Running test-prep centres that coach students for engineering, management and medical colleges is a huge business. Will you focus on them?
Our general idea is to establish as an education service company and a technology-enabled service company. In test-prep, we may develop content, assessment capability. Maybe we will use some of the infrastructure of the TutorVista schools as test-prep centres, without opening a chain of test-prep centres across the country.

You have said that Indian education sector’s opening up is good for the world. Why do you think so?
I think there is a recognition in India that education is the fundamental enabler of India’s potential as a globally competitive service economy. If that is the target then education has to be in a broad way be the epicentre of government agenda... That recognition has led to a much more enlightened and open approach to education. There has to be a balance between public purpose and the commercial terms of education. We have to have a social purpose and a commercial purpose. I think the ministry of human resource development in the last two years has done a great job...

How much does India contribute to the kitty of Pearson?
At this moment a very small portion. We generally don’t split that number. But it is growing very rapidly. Today we employ 1,600 people in India. We will see that it grows.

TutorVista’s chief executive K. Ganesh says he sees this company a billion-dollar company in five years. If that happens, where do you see Pearson?
We want to establish ourselves as an education company (rather) than just a publishing company. There is a perception that Pearson is a textbook publisher, this should change. Yes, we do publish textbooks, but it is a pretty small proportion than what we do in education. Largely, we are producing digitally enabled content that is embedded in learning platforms. We need to get some recognition for that. With TutorVista deal, the perception will shift a bit. Ganesh’s vision about the company is not unrealistic.

Will you take this K-12 education model to other countries where you are growing, such as Brazil and South Africa?
Yes, we will. It will be a two-way spread. In Brazil…we give all kind of content to schools and we will see if that can be brought to India. In turn, if we become successful managers of K-12 schools, then it can be exported to Brazil, South Africa. If we develop a model in India and it can be replicated, then we will do that for sure.

Source: Mint, February 15, 2011

US varsity ties up with Pune-based B-school

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), one of the state universities in the US, has entered into a formal tie-up with the city-based Europe Asia Business School (EABS) and academic service provider Global Talent Track (GTT) for setting up a centre for services excellence that will offer advanced study programmes in the infotech (IT) and management fields.

The EABS, which has campuses in Pune and Mumbai, was founded by Ganesh Natarajan, CEO of Zensar Technologies and Chairman of the CII's IT and ITeS committee. While the GTT, which specialises in training students on vocational skills that will help them get ready for the industry jobs, is headed by Uma Ganesh.

As part of the tripartite arrangement, the centre for services excellence will conduct research as well as offer multi-disciplinary academic programmes in India, starting with an advanced programme in information assurance leading to a masters in engineering from the UCCS and a certificate programme in services marketing.

According to Uma Ganesh, "This collaboration promises a much-needed global education experience for students, bringing together the best of the academia and the industry of the two nations." Ganesh said, "The UCCS has some of the most relevant programmes in IT and Management and also an outstanding programme taught through blended learning for healthcare and nursing and through our new global connect initiative. These are the first of several planned courses that we look forward to customising and offering, via the centre, to cater to the huge needs in India and Asia."

The information assurance programme will be conducted at the EABS' campus at Vimannagar, while the services marketing programme will be conducted at the Advanced Technology Laboratory near Wadia college, said a GTT spokesperson on Monday. The two new academic programmes will be launched from the academic year 2011-12. The UCCS has provided the academic backup for these programmes in terms of designing the course and faculty training, among other things.

Both the courses have been designed specifically keeping in mind the factors like India's growing economy and the projected growth of sectors related to business, financial services and insurance (BFSI), healthcare and media. These sectors are expected to create over 40 lakh jobs within the next two years. On the other hand, information security and IT risk have emerged as key concerns with the growing IT penetration across the country. Successful participation of the advanced programme offered in India will lead to a masters degree in information assurance, which is offered by the UCCS. The services marketing programme will also enable students to get fee waivers for the fully accredited MBA offered by the UCCS at its campus in Colorado Springs.

Source: The Times of India, February 15, 2011

PGDM colleges deplore AICTE cap on fee

Colleges in the state of Andhra Pradesh offering PG Diploma in Management (PGDM) courses have decided to approach the Supreme Court against the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) move to put a cap on the fee. According to the new AICTE rules introduced earlier this month, colleges which run autonomous PGDM courses will now have to slash their course fee from a whopping Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 30,000 per annum.

The AICTE had also decided to cancel the autonomy of these colleges preventing them from deciding their own curriculum and fee structure. The colleges will have to get affiliated to state universities, which will monitor all administrative and academic matters of the colleges.

The managements stated that the fee reduction by 70 per cent would be a squeeze on their resources and running the colleges would become difficult. "The colleges have been offering good quality education. The students are even provided with laptops and are exposed to the syllabus which is not inferior to that of IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management). The AICTE's decision to cancel their autonomy will upset the educational system being followed by these colleges," said T. Srinivas Acharya, Principal, Vishwa Vishwani Institute of Systems and Management. There are 30 such institutions in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

College managements said that they would be left with no option but to shut down if the fee cap was implemented by the government. "We will not be able to provide all the good facilities being now provided to the students if the fee structure is controlled. From internship to full-fledged laboratories, the colleges have been providing students with the best facilities," said a college representative.

The colleges said that they had brought the issue to the notice of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and were awaiting a response. "HRD minister Kapil Sibal has promised to find a solution to the problem. We will, however, approach court if the matter is not settled by the government," said a representative.

Source: The Times of India, February 15, 2011

XLRI students in high demand during campus placement

Close on the heels of a record-breaking summer internship process, Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur (widely known as XLRI), the premier B-school of the eastern region, has scaled new heights. The campus recruitment process of 2011 witnessed for the first time 240 students getting placed in less than four days. A total of 109 firms confirmed their participation and rolled out 317 offers. This year XLRI witnessed the highest number of offers made on campus with an increased batch size of 240 students being offered the widest possible range of profiles from across the sectors. The class of 2011 has successfully made their entry into coveted positions across the corporate world. There was a 19.25 per cent jump in pre-placement offers from last year with students being offered attractive jobs for excellent performance during summer internships.

The lateral placements at XLRI have been an impressive prelude to the campus recruitment process, with a rich mix of offers equally spread across various domains for middle and senior level management roles. The number of lateral offers doubled over last year with an average salary figure of Rs. 16,50,000. The placement process attracted 109 companies giving a total of 317 offers, to a batch of 120 business management and 120 personnel management and industrial relations (HR) students.

The average domestic package was around Rs. 15,80,000, a rise of close to 12 per cent over last year's figure. The figure for the domestic salary of Rs. 14,70,000 echoes the focus on quality of job offers made at XLRI as a part of the placement season 2010. The highest domestic package was Rs. 23,00,000 per annum and according to sources it was offered by a consultancy firm.

XLRI's position as a destination for premier finance roles stays, with 25 per cent of the total offers coming from the financial sector. ICICI Bank was the largest recruiter and had 21 offers. Marketing has drawn renewed interest from the students and was the most sought after profile with 25 per cent accepting offers. XLRI strengthened its relationship with consulting prima donnas with 25 per cent of the students entering the campus recruitment programme with top notch consulting firms involved in the process.

"This year saw an increase of 100 per cent in the batch of PMIR, but this was more than matched by the renewed interest of the recruiters for HR professionals" said Prof. Rajiv Misra, Chairperson, Placement Committee. Novartis AG offered its prestigious HR leadership development role at Basel, Switzerland, exclusively to XLRI, making the highest international offer of $120,000.

Source: The Times of India, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Max plans med education institute, may invest up to Rs. 10 billion

Max Healthcare is likely to invest up to Rs. 1,000 crore (Rs. 10 billion) over the next three years to set up a medical education institute at Greater Noida. "We expect the investment on total infrastructure to be in the range of Rs. 700 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore. The institute will include a medical college, a nursing college and a college for allied health services," Max Healthcare CEO and Managing Director Pervez Ahmed told PTI. While the nursing and allied healthcare colleges will become functional this year, it will take nearly three years to start the medical college, he added.

As per the company's plans, the medical college will have 50 seats to start off with, which will eventually go up to 150. The nursing college will have 100 seats and the allied healthcare institution will have 300 seats for various certificate and diploma courses. The company will fund the project through a combination of debt and equity, Ahmed said.

Apart from the institute at Greater Noida, the company also plans to set up another three nursing colleges over the next three years. "We have plans to start three nursing colleges at Dehradun, Noida and one in Punjab. For the Dehradun one, we have already identified the location," Ahmed said.

The company will commission four new hospitals this year taking its in-patient bed capacity to 2,000 beds from 800 at present. It expects the total bed strength to go up to 5,000 in the next five years. "The majority of the addition would be through mergers and acquisitions. There are a few players with whom we are having discussions," Ahmed said, without disclosing details. Max Healthcare expects its four hospitals at Mohali, Bhatinda, Delhi and Dehradun to become operational this year.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 14, 2011

MNCs lining up at B-schools with 20% higher salaries, more offers

India’s top business schools anticipate that 2011 will be the best year yet for campus placements as recruiters beat a path to their doors in search of the cream of management graduates. Prospective employers are expected on B-school campuses in larger numbers, hiring many more students and paying a lot more than in the past, a pointer to the improving economic health of Western economies, particularly financial firms and banks.

At IIM-Ahmedabad, the mainstay recruiters — investment banks and consulting firms — kicked off the placements season on Saturday. Their hiring is up and they are offering salaries that are up to a fifth higher than last year, those involved in the process say. Placements at IIM-Bangalore will begin on March 5, to be followed by IIM-Calcuttta and Lucknow.

The confidence is a remarkable turnaround, for just two years ago even IIM-A was forced to extend its placements window and struggled to pair all its students with employers. Campus recruitments at the IIMs and other top B-schools are closely watched because they are a barometer of corporate confidence. In good years, like 2008, which was the best for placements so far, hiring and salaries rise. But in bad years, like 2009, many recruiters shy away from campuses.

"Multinationals are expanding. They spent two years putting their own house in order post slowdown. Now there is more work for management consultants as regulators are pushing for stronger risk management mechanisms," says Atul Khosla, the India head of Oliver Wyman. His management consulting firm plans to hire 15 graduates from the IIMs and Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business, twice the number last year. The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey have already bettered their last year’s record of employing eight candidates each. BCG was the top recruiter, hiring 11 IIM-A graduates; McKinsey made 10 offers. These include the pre-placement offers to students after a two-month internship.

"I believe that 2011 will be the best placement season for IIMs," says T. Muralidharan, an IIM-A alumnus and the Chairman of TMT Group, a provider of HR-related services for 20 years. Information technology companies, which are offering higher-value services to clients in the US and Europe, will play a crucial role in raising the average level of pay, he adds. "Even if you take into account the increasing inflation levels, year on year I am sure average salaries will be 30-40% higher than 2008 levels."

In 2010, the average domestic salary at IIM-A was Rs. 14,94,000 while at IIM-C it was Rs. 15,32,000. While management institutes are usually loath to reveal the salaries that are offered to students, this season onwards, IIM-A will disclose the highest, average and lowest salaries at the end of the placement process. It has also decided not to calculate non-guaranteed part of the student’s salary including fringe benefits and variable pay while calculating the salary packages.

As a reflection of the improving global situation, there have been a greater number of international offers this year at IIM-A. Investment banks, present at the campus in larger numbers, are making offers for roles in Singapore and London, in addition to Mumbai. IIM-A placed 283 students last year, while IIM-B and IIM-C placed 268 and 278 students, respectively. This year, the batch size at IIM-A has grown to 314 students for the flagship post-graduate programme in management while there are 36 students studying agribusiness management.

IIM-B is the numbers of recruiters at its campus to increase from 100 last year to 130-140, says Sapna Agarwal, the head of career development services at the institute. "This is partly because the batch size has gone up from 267 last year to 348. Also, more companies have started showing interest in campus placements."

IIM-Lucknow, which is starting final placement in early March, expects better participation from consulting, finance and FMCG firms, says Apoorva Gupta, a member of the placement committee. The first lot of around 25 employers at IIM-A included international investment banks, consulting firms, and private equity and venture capital firms. Those such as Bain & Company, Booz & Company, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan made 100 job offers on the first day. IIM-A saw around 80 pre-placement offers this year compared to 60 last year.

Sanjit Paul Singh, Director at Gurgaon-based HR firm S&S Associates says global consulting companies and investment banks are recruiting more because they are expanding their businesses in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations and the US. "Earlier, they used to hire talent from India to offer products like debt trading or derivatives to their clients based in the US and Europe. Now, they want local people to offer their products to local markets." Wyman’s Khosla too says multinationals are bullish on India and Brazil. His firm is expanding in Latin America and drawing up sizeable growth plans for Southeast Asia and China. "I can say our global hiring may be 20% higher this year," says Khosla, who also handles a part of Wyman’s global hiring.

Source: The Economic Times, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Clock starts ticking for UGC

The wait has begun for the quiet burial of the country's apex higher education regulator. In a clear signal of the winding down of the 54-year-old behemoth, the government plans to avoid appointing a full-fledged chairman to the University Grants Commission (UGC) after economist Sukhdeo Thorat, officials concede. The proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) will subsume many of the roles of the UGC and other regulators, including the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

"But the end of the UGC is more than just the creation of a new regulator. It epitomises the end of an era when the government micro-managed higher education. We now want to act as a facilitator," a senior government official said. While the NCHER will set standards in higher education, the new regulator will relinquish direct control of many other functions of the UGC, including funding universities and testing candidates for teaching jobs.

The NCHER will act against institutions on complaints under a self-disclosure regime that human resource development minister Kapil Sibal is pushing. But the change in philosophy of the Centre isn't the only reason behind the decision to wind down the UGC and AICTE. The recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC)and the Yash Pal Committee --- both set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh --- to replace these institutions with a single overarching regulator came amid a corruption cloud over Indian higher education. AICTE chairman R.A. Yadav was suspended and is set to be prosecuted by the CBI.

Thorat, who ended his tenure at the UGC earlier this week, has faced repeated corruption allegations though he has rejected all charges. IAS officer Raju Sharma was repatriated from his post as UGC Secretary after he locked horns with Thorat, accusing him of corruption in a Rs. 230-crore e-governance project and in the award of recognition to deemed universities. Final nail in the UGC's coffin possibly came from differences that emerged between the regulator and the Ministry of HRD over the mess in deemed universities --- for which the Centre blames UGC.

The minutes of a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD on a proposed law to punish colleges that cheat or mislead students state that Thorat told the panel the UGC was not consulted by the Centre. Thorat has subsequently changed his stance, and said he had clarified to the panel that the UGC had been consulted. The damage, however, has been done.

Source: Hindustan Times, February 11, 2011

AICTE organizes conferences on vocational training

To develop the contours of a vocational educational qualification frame work, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is organizing a series of sector specific round table conferences to discuss the present scenario of soft and technical skills of the existing workforce in the age group of twenty to twenty five and contemporary requirement of industry. In this series, a round table on Media & Entertainment Industry was held in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Human Resource Development (HRD) and Communication & Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.

The workshop was attended by 126 representatives of the Media & Entertainment Industry. After extensive discussions, it was decided to constitute a committee to prepare the draft curriculum for vocational education for this sector. The committee includes AICTE Chairman S.S. Mantha, Exchange for Media CEO Anurag Batra and members from different sectors of the media. Five sub-committees have also been constituted to prepare the draft curriculum for different sectors such as TV, advertising, theatre, print, support sector for the media.

"Two big concerns of employers today are finding good workers and training them. India has a large population base of 1.14 billion with demographic shift in favor of working age group (15-59 years). While the overall population is projected to grow at 1.4% over the next five years the working age is expected to grow at 2.15%. For this majority group, access to secondary education and vocational education and training (VET) is very crucial," an official press release said. The release further added that, "There is a need to increase VET responsiveness to changing labor market demands, increasing the effectiveness of VET outcomes in improving the match between education and training demand and supply. Effective skill based technical education for employment is the key enabler for innovation."

There is a felt need for vocational education on account of water tight educational entry and exit levels, increasing drop outs, social non acceptance to vocational education as an alternate to higher education, loss of productive youth, mismatch between qualifications and industry needs and need to provide seamless integration between vocational education and regular higher education for enhancement in gross enrolment ratio (GER).

Formal VE in India is implemented at senior secondary school level, and funded by the Ministry of HRD. Total enrolment in VE courses of these schools is roughly 6,00,000 at present. Some of the potential vocational education receptors are automobile sector, IT, ITES and telecom sector, media and entertainment sector hospitality and tourism sector, construction and infrastructure sector, financial services, retail services, banking and insurance sector. AICTE also intends to organize future round table conferences in the construction sectors as well as banking & finance.

Source:, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top scores in CAT, but not good enough for IIMs

Deepesh Dhoundiyal's gamble in leaving a secure job in an insecure economy to study for the Common Admission Test (CAT) appeared to have paid off mid-January when his test score placed him among the top 1,000 candidates. Less than a month later, the Delhi-based engineer is distraught, sitting at home preparing for job interviews, his dream of studying at the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) shattered despite a 99.49 percentile CAT score.

About 9,000 students with CAT scores below his will, however, be appearing for the second stage of IIM admissions. A draft of pre-exam criteria that the IIMs either changed or never disclosed till after the CAT results were announced, as HT reported on Wednesday, have denied 24-year-old Dhoundiyal and others like him seats.

"I would never have quit my job if I knew that the IIMs would set eligibility criteria that my past academic records do not allow me to meet irrespective of my CAT score. Why couldn't the IIMs announce these criteria earlier," asked Dhoundiyal, who worked in Ahmedabad at a top oil and petroleum firm.

These students --- with CAT 2010 scores of over 99 percentile but denied calls for the second stage of IIM admissions because of unspecified or changed pre-exam criteria --- are forming a group and plan to approach the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the second stage of IIM admissions.

The eligibility was listed --- and is still listed on the official CAT website --- as 50% in the bachelor's degree. But the IIMs in Rohtak, Trichy and Shillong announced higher bachelor's degree marks as eligibility criteria to be considered, after the CAT results were announced. These higher criteria varied from 65% in IIMs in Rohtak and Trichy to 87% in IIM Shillong.

The other IIMs are calculating eligibility for the second stage of admissions using weightages given to class X, class XII and bachelor's degree scores also announced after the declaration of CAT results. Top IIM officials are accepting that the students may have a "legitimate argument," but are insisting that there had been no discrimination.

Source: Hindustan Times, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Management schools seek rules rollback

Some privately owned management schools have have strongly protested the technical education regulator's new rules that forbid them to conduct entrance examinations and give state governments control over the fees they charge. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in a 28 December notification has empowered state governments to conduct entrance examinations and also constitute committees to determine fees and curriculum.

"This is absurd," said V.K. Gupta, Director of Management Development Institute (MDI) in Gurgaon, Haryana. "This guideline will dilute the quality of students during admission. It will reduce our autonomy in areas such as faculty selection, curricula and teaching methods. "If the notification is enforced, we (MDI) have to get registered with the Haryana government. They will hold entrance, decide my course and fees," Gupta said. "I am looking to compete at the global level not at the state level."

The Education Promotion Society of India, an association for private education providers, may move the Supreme Court if the notification is not withdrawn, secretary-general Manohar Chellani said. "Any policy action requires some rationale. The AICTE notification has no such thing," said Bakul Dholakia, former Director at Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. "This will destroy the national character of management education in the country," Dholakia, who now heads the Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management in Ahmedabad, said.

AICTE, overseen by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), defended its move. "We are not curbing anybody's autonomy," Chairman S.S. Mantha said. "What we have done is in the public interest." H. Chaturvedi, Director of Greater Noida-based Birla Institute of Management Technology, said representatives from several private management schools have met HRD minister Kapil Sibal on 31 January to demand a rollback of the latest guidelines. "We will wait for 10 days before deciding on a legal move," said MDI's Gupta.

At least 91% among 215 management institutes surveyed have opposed the notification, according to a report by education website MBAUniverse. There are at least 3,700 management schools in the country, of which at least 80% are privately operated, government data show.

"Postgraduate diploma in management education has been enjoying autonomy since 1993 to create a pool of professionals who can fulfil the demands of industry," said Chellani. "But this guideline is against this autonomy." The AICTE notification looks "hasty" and the ministry should establish a task force of academicians to suggest an alternative, said educationist Pritam Singh.

Source: Mint, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 07, 2011

UK visa curbs will hit Indian MBA students

Britain's move to abolish the visa that allows Indian and other non-EU students to take up employment in the UK for two years after the completion of their courses is likely to reduce the number of Indians coming here for MBA degrees, an industry body has said. The London-based Association of MBAs, which accredits business management courses in 70 countries, including the UK, said the proposed move was of 'significant concern', and would restrict enrolment of international students from India and elsewhere.

In a speech last week, immigration minister Damian Green said that non-EU students could not be allowed unfettered access to the UK labour market amidst growing unemployment in Britain. He said: "The post study work route was intended to form a bridge between study and skilled work, allowing all international graduates to remain for two years after graduation... To allow unfettered access to the jobs market for two years to anyone with a student visa from abroad is putting an unnecessary extra strain on our own graduates".

Noting that India and China are two of the UK's biggest markets for international students, the association said in its response to the consultation on the student visa review that the UK must do all it can to remain competitive in the highly skilled business education sector. "Turning students away by restricting their access to post-study employment puts their reputations at stake and threatens future viability," it said.

The association said that MBA courses have high fees, and does not attract the type of migrants which the David Cameron government was seeking to deter from entering and abusing the student visa system. Moreover, MBA international students bring "a high level of income for UK universities at a time when they are struggling for funding", the association said. In British universities, MBA tuition fees range from 10,000 pounds to 50,000 pounds per year.

The Association of MBAs surveyed 47 accredited business schools in the UK in early January 2011. Of the 34 who responded, 97 per cent said that they believe continued restrictions on student visas are likely to impact their enrolment numbers in the future. Of these, 56 per cent said that the impact was highly likely. "This supports deep concerns voiced in focus groups among business schools that prospective students will look elsewhere to competitor countries including Canada, the United States and Australia", it said.

The association added: "The focus on student immigration and the blanket restriction of visas across the entire student population poses significant risks to UK's ability to remain competitive in global education and business. We urge the government to recognise that there are different categories of international students".

Green's proposed restrictive measures on the student visa system has already raised a welter of protest from the education sector. Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, and a spokesman for Universities UK, said the Government's plans amounted to a 'hostile act'. Professor David Wark, of Imperial College London, also warned against plans to weaken the link between study and work. "If we get an opportunity to pick the cream of the crop, we shouldn't pass that up," he added. Professor Steve Smith, President of Universities UK, said the Government's plans could cause 'unintended damage' to the university sector and Britain's international reputation.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 7, 2011

International MBA Programmes by Jaro Education

Indian students nowadays prefer to have two to three years of work experience before opting for an MBA programme. The work experience, it is believed, makes it easier to learn management concepts and helps students to relate theory to management practices. However, there are aspirants who want to pursue an MBA, while working full-time. With this in mind, Jaro Education, based in Mumbai, in collaboration with the United Business Institute (UBI), Belgium, a European business school, has introduced International MBA and Executive International MBA programmes to suit the various requirements of students, working professionals and others.

The International MBA programme is designed to equip candidates with knowledge of domestic as well as international management areas. Also, it aims to offer insight into an international business culture and environment.
As part of the programme, senior industry experts share their industry experiences. During guest lectures, students not only acquire business knowledge from CEOs, VPs/GMs, but also get an opportunity to interact with executives from different industries and functions.

As far as accreditations are concerned, UBI and Jaro Education are accredited by the European Association for International Education (EAIE), United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and Accreditation Services for Certifying Bodies Europe Ltd (ASCB)-Europe.

One of the strengths of the international MBA programme offered by Jaro Education is that the International Master in Business Administration degree awarded by United Business Institutes, Belgium, Europe is recognised worldwide. The fee (Rs. 45,000) for the one-year International MBA programme is inclusive of online lectures with installments or bank loan facility. An extra fee of Rs. 12,000 is charged for weekend classes. The online lectures and examination offer flexible options to students. Also, the programme includes international subjects commonly taught in the US, UK and Australia. For a thorough understanding of management concepts, Personal Contact Programmes (PCP) lectures are provided on weekends for students who are enrolled for the lectures. Before exams, students can clarify their doubts online with the faculty members. For more, log on to

Source:, February 7, 2011

IIT-Bombay may set up campus in New York

The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay could soon have a second address — in New York. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has invited the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) to submit a proposal to set up a campus in the Big Apple for applied science courses. The Mumbai institute will fill a lacuna that the city's five boroughs have had all these years — a world-class facility for applied science teaching and research with a strong bent towards applied engineering.

A committee at IIT-B is firming up the institute's pitch, which will be sent to NYCEDC by April. The host city will make a capital contribution, in addition to possibly providing land and other considerations. IIT-B Director Devang Khakhar, who was invited by The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to consider setting up a campus there, has said the concept is being explored. "Yes, we may start with something small there. My team is working on a feasibility plan of going to New York."

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the city must optimize its business strengths. "The city is committed to finding the right partner and providing the support needed to establish such a facility because research in the fields of engineering, science and technology is creating the next generation of global business innovations that will propel our economy forward," Bloomberg said. "New York City has all the ingredients to complement an applied science and engineering hub — a highly educated global population, an unparalleled financial and business community to provide capital and support for new ventures and existing top-notch institutions performing cutting-edge research. We want to capitalize on those strengths."

Apart from inviting top institutes around the world to send in their offers, NYCEDC has also broadened its hunt by allowing institutes wanting a presence in NY to apply under this scheme. IIT-B's Dean (International Relations) Subhasis Chaudhuri, said, "The proposal is at a rather nascent stage. But we are considering it very seriously."

NYCEDC, which has received responses from a select group of top schools from around the world bidding for the same project, is likely to assess all the expressions of interest in April and later work toward setting up the school in a year. Terming this as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity", Bloomberg said, "The impact of this initiative will be extraordinary."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 06, 2011

IIM-A pips ISB to the post in Financial Times global ranking

Indian B-Schools are now bringing laurels to the country. Unlike earlier, they are being recognised across the globe. This year, for the first time, India has got three schools ranked in the Financial Times, London, B-School rankings 2011, namely, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad and SP Jain Centre of Management, Dubai/Singapore.

The Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) of ISB has been ranked number 13 in the Global Top MBA rankings 2011. It also recorded the highest "Salary percentage increase" among all the top 100 schools. Marking a new development, two programmes from Indian institutions have entered the rankings for the first time this year – PGPX of IIM-A (at 11) and GMBA of SP Jain Center of Management, Dubai/Singapore (at 68). The increase in the number of Indian, and other Asian B-schools in the rankings over the past few years, reflects the rise in prominence of the region.

Many business and management educators feel that this is a positive development and it could help spawn a cluster of high quality management institutions in the region that will attract the best talent from across the world, and create an environment conducive to path-breaking research. Here, ISB takes pride in being a vital catalyst in this trend.

This is the fourth successive year that the ISB has featured in the top 20, reinforcing its reputation as a world class institution. During this four year period, the ISB’s PGP class size grew by over 35 per cent to a current size of 570 students reflecting the institution’s commitment to world-class quality and scale.

Announcing the ranking, Ajit Rangnekar, Dean, ISB said: "The ISB entered the global rankings in 2008, and with each passing year, has cemented its position among the top 20 schools globally, while simultaneously growing significantly. Our commitment to providing a world-class experience to all our stakeholders remains unwavering, and is reflected in our consistent showing at the rankings. I take this opportunity to thank the entire ISB community, and extended community of stakeholders across the world, for being part of this success."

Expressing happiness on this development, Rajat Gupta, Chairman, ISB said, "The ISB is committed to its vision of grooming leadership for emerging world, and has established new paradigms for management education in India. The ISB’s accomplishments in the short span of its existence pales in comparison to only one aspect – its potential." Within 10 years of its inception, ISB boasts to have established itself as a global business school of repute, with a demonstrated record of growth and accomplishment.

The school is in the process of setting up its second campus in Mohali, Punjab, which will also have specialist institutes for promoting research and education in areas critical to India’s development. The Mohali campus is slated to be operational from April 2012 onwards this way.

Source: The Economic Times, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 05, 2011

US varsities taking holistic view of Asian students' applications

The focus is shifting from the entrance test scores to a holistic assessment of the profiles of Indian and Asian students aspiring to pursue higher education in the US and Canada, officials said Saturday. IDP Education India, one of the largest education placement companies in the world, is currently hosting global education fairs showcasing US and Canadian universities across the country for aspiring students.

"The universities are paying attention to other things than just test scores lately to judge aspiring Asian students seeking admission to American universities. They are trying not to penalise the profiles of students if they fail to log high scores in SAT, GMAT and GRE entrance tests," Luna Das, IDP Education's national manager for training and client relationship (North America), said at a press briefing here Saturday. Citing a recent instance, she said: "An Indian student who scored 580 in GMAT (Graduate Management Test Examination) applied to study master of business administration at the Stanford University.

"Usually, one cannot expect a student with a GMAT score of 580 to make it to Stanford University. But the university took into account the student's exceptional credentials, professional experience, insightful essays, social work and contacts in the industry to decide that his presence would add value to the classroom." She said the IDP expected to send nearly 250 Indian students to the US in 2011 fall term. The firm partners with 80 US universities and counsels students applying to 200 universities in America.

According to Mirjana Radulovic, international marketing and recruitment specialist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, "more and more universities in North America were adopting a holistic approach to admission than just relying on the entrance test scores". Her university, which works with the IDP Education, was no exception. "Many universities in Canada do not require entrance test scores. We assess students on their bachelors programme and high school scores," Radulovic said.

A tentative break-up of GMAT scores for outstation students for the year 2011 and the corresponding ranking of universities shows that non-American aspirants with an average score of 700 and above are eligible for US universities like Harvard University, Stanford University, U-Penn (Wharton), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-Sloan), Northwestern (Kellogg), Columbia University, Berkeley, University of California, Yale and New York, says Learn Hub, a campus listing group. A tentative trend of the average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for 2010-2011 shows that top US universities like the MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Cal Tech, Harvard and Cornell require a aggregate of 1,200 and above.

Pointing out changing trends in technical education, Jeffery W. Grundy, director, office of international students and faculty of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, said: "Students from India were more inclined to newer streams of technology like bio-informatics, bio-medical technology, electrical technology, pharma-tech and communication technology. "Nearly 99 per cent of Indian students wanted to have work experience in the US," he said. The New Jersey Institute of Technology has 670 Indian students in its fraternity of 1,250 students.

IDP has a network of 17 offices in 16 cities of India. "We are planning to set more centres in northeastern India and in Ranchi and Patna," a spokesperson said, adding that the "next two years would see at least 30,000 to 32,000 Indian students applying to foreign universities after a period of low following incidents of racial violence".

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 5, 2011

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ex-IITian starts world-class school in Bihar village

In a remote corner of the state, at Chamanpura village of Gopalganj district, a story is unfolding of unique enterprise and innovative methods in school education. Situated about 30 kilometers from Gopalganj, this school, known as Chaitanya Gurukul Public School, was founded in 2009 by an ex-IITian, Chandrakant Singh, now based in Bangalore.

Bereft of electricity till date, about 450 children, both boys and girls, are imparted lessons in physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer through Skype, video conferencing and Internet. Eight of Singh's associates, sitting in various corners of the world, have joined hands to teach children right from Class I to Class VII, through video-conferencing. Apart from distance learning, 16 teachers, who reside on the campus, are helping the students in their studies. Here, teachers mark their attendance using a biometric finger-printer and students too log their attendance in computers.

The computers run on gensets owned by the school. Once computers were in place, the teaching did not have to wait. Pankaj Kumar of NTPC, a technocrat, teaches physics from Singrauli. Working with HAL, Sanjay Rai, an alumnus from BITS, Pilani, teaches chemistry from Korwa in UP, while M. Vats, a US-based technocrat teaches math.

"With a view to providing world-class, technology-enabled education to the children of this backward village, where I was born and where I had my primary schooling, I set up this institution," said Singh. The push came when the Mahartashtra Navnirman Sena was attacking Bihari migrants in Mumbai. Singh then decided to do something immediately for his home town. "I was greatly disturbed, and wanted to arrest the migration of students from Bihar in my small way," he said. He then sought the advice of Surya Narayan, Dean of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, who was his teacher also. Narayan suggested him to make a plan for revenue-generating, self-sustaining model instead of taking the charity route. Singh then prepared a blueprint and e-mailed it to 3,000 friends, eight of whom agreed to fund it.

After the state government approved the proposal, the friends, who formed a trust, met the villagers and convinced them about the school. Within three months, they had 13 acres of land --- from 100 villagers, who sold plots from 3 decimals to an acre in the area. Soon a big building started coming up, a part of which is still under construction.

With quality class rooms and campus, tuition fee starts from Rs. 300 for Class I and is increased annually by Rs. 100 as a child goes to a higher class. However, the school is run on self-sustaining basis, and not for profit. Chandrakant himself is doing his job, but takes classes through video-conferencing. Every year, one more class is sought to be opened at the school.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 3, 2011

Microsoft, Cognizant, HCL and Wipro to hire designers this year

Technology majors are headhunting at an unlikely place this year — design school. Software majors Microsoft, Cognizant, HCL and Wipro, e-commerce giant eBay India and the local research laboratories of SAP and HP are knocking at the doors of design schools to hire graduates who can lift the aesthetic appeal of their products, sites and services. And to boot, the number of designers in technology firms is expected to see a 20-25% spurt over the next 2-3 years.

As e-commerce grows, the web interface becomes crucial for internet firms pushing up the need for designers. For software firms too, client presentations over the web and providing design services are becoming important and de rigeur. While there is no concrete data on the number of designers in IT, rough estimates put it at between 5,000 and 7,000 — from 2000 till date. Designers are also being put to use to make web graphic design uber cool, bring snaziness to the user-interface for gadgets, write content for web and develop e-learning solutions for internal use.

Non-engineering graduates have been trying their hand at technology firms for sometime now. Along with designers, the number of non-engineering graduates on the rolls of IT companies will go up from 10% of their current workforce to nearly 20-25% at TCS, Wipro and HCL over the next one to two years. Fast-growing rival Cognizant already has 20% of its workforce as non-engineering graduates.

Says Vaithilingam Sairaj, Director, Content & Design Services, Cognizant: "The industry has evolved with a large number of online users turning to e-commerce. Thus, the importance of visual appeal and aesthetics is going up. Cognizant is a major hirer of designers from National Institute of Design (NID) and has created an exclusive portfolio called content and design services. The team is over 1,200-strong, of whom 400 are specialist designers who design websites, applications and convergence devices. Cognizant this year has made 18 offers at NID while last November, eBay India, SAP Labs and HP Labs also recruited students from India’s premier design school.

Professor Ravi Sinha, in-charge of placements at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai — which has a course on interaction design — says: "Yes, IT companies are queuing up to pick up designers from our campus. It is not just the SWITCH (Satyam, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant and HCL) companies, but even smaller firms are showing interest and scouting for talented designers." But why? "Globally, it is common to see designers in IT firms but the trend is just picking up here. Designers are working on projects like web designing and user interface. Going forward, as local IT firms move up the value chain, demand for designers will rise," he added.

A Cognizant employee, who also got an offer from an advertisement agency, says: "I got a good package from a leading advertising agency. But I chose IT because the options are more. In an advertisement firm, I have to work on a single project. On the other hand, I can work on different platforms in an IT firm," he added. "I do the work of an interface designer as well as a content designer. And it is really challenging and exciting," he says.

Not everyone gets to do what Jony Ive — the famed industrial designer at Apple — does, but work is exciting enough, say employees. "When a customer comes online to check a product detail, it has to be narrated like a story. That is where designers come handy. For social networking sites, the games, user experience designs and interactive technologies are done by designers. There is scope in the mobile space too," says an Infosys employee.

The IT bellwether has a large number of designers on its rolls. A team called communication design group at Infosys is a multi-disciplinary one with 140 people involving graphic design experts, user experience designers, instructional designers, technical writers, content developers and editors, video specialists and interactive multimedia specialists. "We have roles from entry-level designers to managers which are aligned to the company’s role and career enhancement track. We at Infosys support communication and design requirements for the company, both internal and customer facing," a spokesperson said. "The potential of the web, the lure of using the latest design technology, regular updating of skills, and all this possibly for a better pay, are reasons why designers are choosing a career with an IT company," says Vaithilingam Sairaj of Cognizant.

Salaries offered are also at par, or even more, than what an advertisement agency offers. Though IT firms did not want to disclose what their packages are, sources said the salary for a fresher could be anywhere between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 900,000. "The salaries offered by IT companies for designers are encouraging. Packages for a fresher is anywhere between Rs. 600,000 and Rs. 800,000," says Sujitha Nair, industry relations and students’ placement officer at NID. "Around 8-10% students at our campus have already accepted pre placement offers (PPOs)," she added. Though Sinha did not want to divulge salary details, IIT-Mumbai design students say they are paid at par with their peers. "On an average, students are offered anywhere between Rs. 600,000-12,00,000 a year," one student said.
Source: The Economic Times, February 3, 2011

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Tri Valley University blames Indian-origin staffer for immigration fraud

As radio-tagging of scores of Indian students duped by a "sham" US university continues to cause anger back home, the controversial institute has claimed that one of its Indian-origin staff was responsible for the immigration fraud and it was not directly involved in it. Breaking its silence, the California-based Tri Valley University (TVU), which was shut down last month, termed as "baseless" the allegations of immigration fraud against the institute and claimed that it had not duped any student.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought "this baseless allegation and put a red-tape in the school operation for a federal investigation, causing hundreds of students to withdraw from classes (and) many instructors requested to quit teaching for the current term. "Also, it caused a profitable university operation to quickly sink into negative in financial debt," Susan Su, President and founder of the TVU, said in an e-mail to PTI.

"Starting in April, one of student assistants Anji Reddy, who worked in TVU administrative office, teamed with another student Ram Krista Karra, who also has a consultant company, conducting a large cheating scheme by asking students to make tuition payment into Ram Krista Karra's personal account in exchange for student I-20 and CPT approval. TVU has fired these two individuals," the e-mail said. The complaint against TVU before the ICE was made by these two, Su claimed.

Hundreds of Indian students were facing deportation and their academic career was in limbo due to the closer of the university by the ICE. Many of them were also forced to wear radio collars around their ankles so that US authorities can keep track of their movements. India has taken up the matter with the State Department and other concerned US officials, asking them to ensure that none of the Indian students is victimised.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna termed the radio-tagging of the students as an "inhuman act" and demanded severe action against those responsible. State Department spokesman P J Crowley has, however, said ankle monitors are used across the US as part of a standard procedure for a variety of investigation and that this does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity.

The US has taken very seriously the alleged immigration scam of Tri Valley University in California, which has mainly affected Indian students, he told reporters yesterday. "We take these allegations of immigration and visa fraud very seriously. These allegations are an excellent example of the universally damaging effects of visa fraud," he said.

Crowley said the ICE has established a helpline for the Indian students affected by the closure of the university. "Those who are involved in this investigation have been issued ankle monitors. This is widespread across the United States and standard procedure for a variety of investigations. It does not necessarily imply guilt or suspicion of criminal activity," he said.

"But we are following this case closely. We are in regular communication with officials of the Government of India. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and ICE are leading this investigation, and that's about all I can say at this point," he said in response to a question.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), February 1, 2011

Malaysian team to study Kerala mosques

A Malaysian team will arrive next month to study mosque structures in Kerala as a collaborative venture between the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM) and Madin Islamic Academy (MIA), Malappuram. In what is believed to be its first such accord with an Indian institution, the IIUM has entered into an agreement for academic cooperation with the MIA. A team from IIUM is expected to arrive in the state next month to commence the groundwork of a research study on mosque structures in Kerala.

The MIA in press release on Monday said the agreement was inked between IIUM Rector Syed Arabi Idid and Madin chairman Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleelul Bukhari in Malaysia. "We are very happy to sign this agreement with an institution from India, which is the second largest Muslim populated country in the world, and hopeful of getting more students and exchange potentials," said Idid.

The IIUM is a joint venture of the Malaysian government and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which is the umbrella body of 57 Muslim countries. Established in 1983 with 153 students, IIUM has become a premier Islamic university with 30,000 students. It offers bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. courses.

The agreement is for exchanging students and teachers, facilitating research and publication in various fields, conducting international seminars and workshops and credit transfer between faculties. This will also enable students from India to pursue their higher studies in 50 faculties and 150 academic programmes of the IIUM.

Madin Academy, Malappuram, established in 1997, is one of the growing educational institutions from Kerala with 10,500 students and 25 educational and charity ventures. Bukhari said this was a new feather in the cap of the developing educational culture of India. "It is not only an agreement between two institutions, but a treaty to exchange knowledge and virtue imparted by more than 50 OIC countries," said Bukhari.


Rahul supports foreign varsity bill

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has supported the foreign universities bill at the parliamentary standing committee meeting of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on Monday. There has been opposition to opening up the Indian higher education sector to foreign players by Left parties and BJP.

The parliamentary panel meeting was held to discuss the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010. Members belonging to Left parties and BJP suggested that the government needs to pay attention to strengthening the domestic university system before opening its doors to foreign players. BJP in particular stressed on the need to provide a level playing field for Indian universities and colleges. The Left has consistently maintained that foreign universities would subvert the Indian system, skew salaries and win away faculty from domestic universities and increase elitism in education.

BJP MPs are understood to have raised the question of foreign universities not being required to provide reservation for socially and economically backward students. Sources said that BJP MP Kirti Azad argued that keeping foreign universities outside the ambit of reservation would result in keeping children from disadvantaged sections out of these universities.

The BJP MP is also understood to have raised the issue of fees not being regulated in the foreign universities.
Sources said that Rahul Gandhi urged members that there was an urgent need for a law. It would appear that the Congress MP from Amethi felt that since there was no law in place to regulate foreign education providers, the first step would be to let the law go through. This is not the first time that Gandhi has pitched for foreign universities.

Source: The Economic Times, February 1, 2011

MHRD & state governments spar over site of Central varsities

The location of Central universities in Bihar and Kerala has become a prestige issue between the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the state governments. On Wednesday, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar will raise the issue with the Prime Minister. Though Bihar government has selected a site in Motihari, the ministry has insisted that the varsity should be situated near Patna.

The Centre's argument is that Motihari will not attract good faculty and students since it is far from the state capital and lacks infrastructure. Kumar has already announced that the site of the Central university will not be shifted. The CM had even made it a part of the assembly poll campaign.

Any change in venue, sources said, would snowball into a controversy in the state. At present, the varsity is functioning from rented premises in Patna. Bihar government officials maintain that development should be decentralized, and not just restricted to Patna and neighbouring areas.

Besides, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is coming up in Bihta, which is situated around 30 km from Patna. Since the ministry has refused to relent, sources said the matter would be taken up with the PM. Two years have already passed. The Central University in Bihar is going to lag behind its counterparts, a source said.

In Kerala, too, the state government has shortlisted a 500-acre plot in Kasargod. But despite the Centre's objections over the fencing of the plot, the state government is reluctant to change the site.

Source: The Times of India, February 1, 2011

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