Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IIM-Lucknow ties up with Indiana University

The Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L) on Wednesday signed an agreement with Kelley School of Business (KSB), Indiana University, USA, to collaborate for research, faculty and student exchange programme. A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed by Mr. Michael A McRobbie, President, Indiana University and Devi Singh, Director, IIM-L, stated a media release.

The MoU will also explore the possibilities of launching a Dual - Degree Programme in Business Analytics and Global Strategy. This Programme would be designed, developed, marketed and delivered by both the institutes and would be primarily taught at IIM Lucknow's Noida campus by faculty members from both the institutions.

The collaboration will include extensive research. Kelly School of Business & IIM Lucknow will investigate avenues to enhance the research mission. Collaborative case studies would be developed which would be then used for teaching purpose, design and deliver series of faculty research workshops.

KSB and IIM-L will also explore the best avenues to combine the interests of faculty at both institutes with students, the business community and society in general. The collaboration seeks to produce events such as webinars and video conferences.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 31, 2011

Anna Hazare movement might become a case study for XLRI

Anna Hazare's success with his anti-corruption movement might soon become a case study for management students at the famed XLRI School of Business and Human Resources. "The movement is fit as case study for budding management students here and we are seriously contemplating to look into various aspects of the movements, particularly Hazare's leadership," said Prof. Munish Thakur of XLRI.

It is likely that the case study will be taught to students within the next three to four months, he said. Describing Hazare and his team's moral authority, conviction and action as the reason for the grand success of the movement, Thakur said the team members have thorough knowledge about the topics they took up and chalked out strategy in a meticulous manner.

Comparing Yoga guru Baba Ramdev's agitation at Ramilal Maidan in Delhi, he said the movement lacked strategy and leadership. "The Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare's movement are classic examples before the prospective business students to learn," he said.

Asked whether the movement would set an example for leaders who might follow the same path to mount pressure on the government for petty issues, Thakur said Hazare and his team raised a genuine issue of corruption and proved that the people have the right to express their views on framing laws in the country.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Distance PhD bar off

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has lifted its two-year-old ban on MPhil and PhD courses through correspondence, the U-turn apparently forced by legal opinion against the move following protests from universities. Open universities like IGNOU (Indian Gandhi National Open University) and several general universities had protested the ban on the ground that their respective laws, passed by Parliament or legislatures, allowed them to offer such courses. Ignou had even continued to offer such programmes.

Faced with the resistance, the higher education regulator sought legal opinion on whether it could override such powers conferred by the acts to the universities. Last month, the UGC held a meeting where it was decided to drop the ban. “An open university may be permitted to conduct MPhil/PhD programmes through distant education mode subject to condition that it does so strictly as per the provisions of the UGC Regulations,” said the minutes of the meeting. “We will follow the rules but our regulations are already stricter than those of the UGC,” IGNOU Vice-Chancellor Rajasekharan Pillai said today.

UGC norms lay down several criteria, including course work, evaluation of thesis by experts outside the state and viva voce. While the PhD guidelines of the most central universities were similar to the UGC’s regulation, those of several open and state universities had a lot of deviations.

The UGC has put another condition for Phd — the principal guide should be from the open university. The UGC had clamped the bar by notifying a rule — the Minimum Standards and Procedure for Awards of MPhil/PhD Degree Regulation — in 2009 saying research courses in the distant mode were of poor quality. The regulations had put a question mark on the future of nearly 10,000 students pursuing such courses across the country.

“There should not be any blanket ban on MPhil or PhD in distance mode. If institutions meet the required quality parameters, they should be allowed to offer such courses,” said academic M. Madhava Menon, who has been asked by the HRD ministry to draft a policy on distance education. He said he would submit his report next month.

Another concern has been that some of the open universities do not have adequate infrastructure to help students carry out research for such courses. A UGC official said the commission’s regulations were silent on the facilities, and a panel headed by academic S.P. Thyagrajan had been set up to suggest the requirements. “We will meet on September 15 to lay the guidelines,” Thyagrajan said.

Source: The Telegraph (Calcutta), August 30, 2011

Baroda Manipal School of Banking to train prospective staff

Manipal Education and Bank of Baroda have launched the Baroda Manipal School of Banking (BMSB) at an investment of over Rs. 30 crore (Rs. 300 million) to train prospective employees of the bank before they are absorbed as probationary officers.

“The students will have a job guaranteed by the bank and the diploma programme will impart training in banking law and practices, and management before they join,” Mr. Anand Sudarshan, CEO and Managing Director, Manipal Education, said at a press briefing.

Bank of Baroda today recruits about 2,000 officers and 2,000 clerks a year and this is another channel for recruitment, Mr. N.S. Srinath, Executive Director, Bank of Baroda, said. As part of the admission process, students at the school of banking will have to take the bank probationary officer recruitment exams after which they will have to go through another entrance exam and an interview conducted by Bank of Baroda.

Students will have a nine-month campus training followed by a three-month internship at any of the bank's branches, at the end of which they will be awarded a postgraduate diploma in banking and finance by Manipal University. The diploma, however, will not enable an employee to bypass other bank examinations while looking for employment at other banks.

Manipal Education is in talks with other public sector banks and will announce a similar venture with at least one bank before December 2011, Mr. Sudarshan told Business Line. He also said that Manipal Education was in talks with companies from other sectors for such tie-ups for pre-employment training.

The fully-residential course at BMSB costs roughly Rs. 300,000 and students can avail education loans at the bank at concessional rates, Mr. Srinath said. The students' fees will be refunded after five years of service at the bank, and will also be offered Rs. 100,000 as bonus if they continue working at the bank after that, he added. The school of banking will have a new batch (180 students per batch) every three months, with classes for the first batch commencing today.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Last minute financial tips for students going abroad

Rajesh Subramanian is flying out of India on September 5th to pursue his Masters in Information Management at the University of Washington, Seattle. It's an exciting time in his life and he wants to make sure he's in control of everything. A few things concern him though, especially with respect to his money matters. "Right now, questions like how to remit fees and living expenses, how much travel insurance to take, how much foreign exchange to carry etc. are on the top of my mind," he says. Rajesh's concerns are justified given the number of regulations and processes involved in foreign exchange transactions. This article tries and finds answers to all his questions.

1. Best way to remit fees

The total fee for Rajesh's course adds up to US$ 42,000. His fee for the first semester, US$ 8,000, needs to be paid by the 1st of October.

What the regulation says: Vinay Doggalli, Founder & Managing Partner of Global Education Consultancy Services explains, "The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allows students to remit the higher of: (i) total study fees plus expenses or (ii) US$ 100,000 per academic year through designated banks." (For complete RBI regulations, please access -

Best option: There could be a number of scenarios in remitting fees.

Scenario 1: Bank loan
If you have taken a bank loan, the bank remits the fees directly to the university as per documents submitted by you.

Scenario 2: Wire transfer from India
If you are paying the fees out of your own sources, you can wire the funds while you are in India. That would be the fastest and most cost effective.

Cost: A wire transfer of over US$ 500 to the US would cost about Rs. 1,000.

Scenario 3: Demand draft
If you have not wired the fees from India, you can carry a demand draft in the name of the university while you travel.

P. Srieedharan, Managing Director of Mancomp Professional Services, a firm that specializes in education consultancy, explains, "For the purpose of fees, if you have not already wired the funds from India, it would be better to carry a demand draft in the name of the university. Carrying traveller's cheques would mean that you would first have to deposit the traveller's cheque in your account and then make a payment to the university."

Cost: A demand draft of up to US$ 5,000 would cost around Rs. 300. However, do remember that a draft may take around a week to clear.

Lump sum or installments: Rajesh also asks if it would be a good idea to remit all the fees at once or have someone wire the proceeds in installments. There are few points to consider here: the university fee structure, the confidence of the student in carrying high value instruments and exchange rate. "Some universities offer a substantial discount if you pay in lump sum. A student can weigh the cost-benefit and then take a call," says Srieedharan.

For Rajesh, from a rupee-dollar exchange rate point of view, in the current scenario, it might perhaps be a good idea to have someone remit funds periodically. The general consensus among economists is that over the next two years, the Indian Rupee is likely to appreciate against the US Dollar. So US$ 5,000 that is worth Rs. 225,000 at today's exchange rate of Rs. 45 will be worth Rs. 200,000 if the rupee appreciates to Rs. 40.

2. Best way to remit regular living expenses

In addition to his fees, Rajesh will need money sent to him from India for his regular living expenses.

What the regulation says: As mentioned in point 1 above, the higher of US$ 100,000 or total study fees plus expenses is allowed to be remitted each academic year. A student may also carry with him while travelling, an amount of US$ 10,000 for incidental expenses (that is, expenses other than fees) out of which US$ 3,000 may be carried in the form of foreign currency.

Best option: According to Doggalli, "The best way would be to open an account after the student lands in the country and get the money transferred to that account from India. Alternately, if the student is confident to take responsibility of high value cheques, he can carry traveller's cheques." As pointed out earlier, remitting funds periodically maybe more beneficial (as compared to remitting lump sum) from an exchange rate perspective, in the current scenario.

How much cash/ traveller's cheques to carry: Experts suggest carrying US$ 500-1,000 in cash for immediate expenses. As for traveller's cheques, Srieedharan recommends, "This may vary from country to country, for instance, in case of Australia, we recommend students to carry US$ 2,500 in traveller's cheques. As a broad thumb rule, students can carry US$ 5,000 in traveller's cheques (in addition to fees). That should keep them in a comfortable position."

Cost: A bank would charge 1% of the rupee equivalent of your traveller's cheque as charges.

3. Best way to pay education loan installments

While banks allow the option to start repayment after you complete your course, here is a tip that can help you keep interest costs low. "We usually recommend students to keep paying the interest portion of the loan so that it does not compound into a large interest outflow." says Srieedharan.

For instance, if one has taken a loan of Rs. 1.5 million at an interest rate of 12% per annum. Let us assume that you will start repaying the loan after two years. During these two years, the bank will calculate interest on simple interest basis and add it to your loan outstanding. So your interest amount for these two years in this example would work out to Rs. 360,000. That pushes up your loan outstanding to Rs. 1.86 million on which the EMI (equated monthly instalment) when you start repaying would work out to Rs. 32,834 over a period of 7 years.

Now instead of letting the interest pile up in the two years, one can repay Rs. 15,000 per month (Rs. 360,000 divided by 24) for two years. Your EMI would then be calculated on Rs. 1.5 million only, that is Rs. 26,479; a difference of Rs. 6,355 per month. Doggalli suggests that the best way to schedule EMI payments would be to give a standing instruction to the bank.

4. To take travel insurance or not

Most universities provide a medical insurance cover for students. Rajesh too will have this, but the coverage starts only from 25th of September. Srieedharan says it is advisable for Rajesh to take travel insurance which covers any incidences that may occur at the time of travel (such as loss of passport, loss of luggage etc) as well as hospitalisation expenses in the foreign country up till 25th September. Remember that medical expenses are high in countries like the US and Canada and it would be better to have this coverage even if it comes at a little cost.

Cost: For the US, a coverage of US$ 50,000 would cost around Rs. 1,500-2,000 for a 30 day term. This would be slightly lower for other countries. In case the college does not have a medical insurance cover, Doggalli suggests that it may make more sense to buy medical insurance from the country where the student is going as he will get better deals and options.

5. Opening a bank account abroad

The first thing you would need to do when you get to the country of your college would be to open a bank account. You would need to submit certain documents such as your passport, visa as well as proof of your admission to the college. Try to do this as soon as possible, especially if you are carrying high value drafts and traveller's cheques. You don't want to worry about safe-keeping for long.

6. Remitting money back to India

You can remit money back to India at any point of time. You can either wire the proceeds to your bank account or parents' bank account in India or you can carry foreign exchange with you when you travel to India. While there is no limit on the amount you can carry with you, if the aggregate value (of cash, cheques, traveller's cheques) exceeds US$ 10,000 and/or the value of foreign currency alone exceeds US$ 5,000, it should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport in the Currency Declaration Form (CDF), on arrival in India.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 29, 2011

IITs, IISc to use CAT 2011 for MBA admissions

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have decided to use CAT 2011 as part of the selection process of their MBA and management programmes from the 2012-13 academic year. The Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET) previously used for admission by the IITs and the IISc stands discontinued, according to an IIM (Indian Institute of Management) media release here.

The decision was taken after a recent review revealed that the relatively young JMET is not too dissimilar to CAT, and that the effort to organise JMET each year seemed enormous in relation to the approximately 40,000 candidates who took the test each year.

"The intersection of candidates who take both CAT and JMET in a single year is quite large. The decision to use CAT for admission into the IITs and IISc will minimize the test preparation and financial burden on candidates," the release quoted L.S. Ganesh, former head of the IIT-Madras management department, as saying.

The five original IITs - Kharagpur, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur and Delhi - as also IIT-Roorkee are among India's earliest institutions to have offered postgraduate and research programmes in management since the 1960s. "CAT is an ideal fit for IITs as it is a well-evolved, established, standardized and widely accepted entrance exam for admission into PG programmes in management in India," Ganesh said.

"This is a major initiative that brings two premier higher education systems together. We anticipate that this will result in closer tie-ups and collaborative research work that will provide both sets of institutions a competitive edge in the long run," CAT 2011 convenor Janakiraman Moorthy said.

CAT 2011 will be conducted over a 20-day window Oct 22-Nov 18 across 36 cities.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 29, 2011

Plan panel backs for-profit institutes of higher learning

In a potential game-changer for India’s education sector, the Planning Commission has suggested that the country allow establishing institutes of higher learning that could be run for profit. “The not-for-profit tag in higher education sector should perhaps be re-examined in a more pragmatic manner so as to ensure quality without losing focus on expansion and equity,” said an approach paper prepared by the apex planning body. Mint has reviewed a copy of the document.

To be sure, the approach paper is not a final policy document as it requires formal approval by the Union cabinet of ministers. However, it does signify the government’s willingness to allow for-profit institutes of higher education to be set up. India should facilitate private sector growth in higher education, particularly in technical subjects, and should explore and develop innovative public-private partnerships (PPP) in the 12th Five-year Plan period that begins on 1 April 2012, the Planning Commission said in the approach paper.

The move comes at a time when the government has publicly accepted that India needs to scale up the education sector to reap demographic dividends, but the state alone will not be able to help fund all initiatives.The suggestion to permit for-profit institutes has come out of a public debate on the quality of higher education in the country, according to a Planning Commission official. “There were a large number of suggestions made on allowing for-profit higher education from different stakeholders,” he said, requesting anonymity. “In a presentation made to the Prime Minister in April to discuss the approach paper, it was suggested that there should be development and operationalization of PPP models in higher education looking at the growing needs of the economy.”

“PPP will not come at not-for-profit,” said the official, who is closely associated with the drafting of the approach paper. For the country to achieve scale with quality in higher education, public money is not enough, said Pramath Sinha, who was founding dean of Indian School of Business​ (ISB), Hyderabad. “You have to invite private investment,” he said. “Of course, some will be philanthropic, and the others will come to have some returns.”

Promoting PPP and allowing profit with conditions are interesting ideas and will be beneficial if implemented, he said. “Already people are doing it under the carpet. By not making it transparent, you (government) have created a system of bootleg model,” said Sinha, who is now working on setting up a multidisciplinary higher educational institution. “But yes, you have to put curbs so that anybody should not enter to make profit while offering poor quality education,” he cautioned.

But the proposal may not be well-received in the political sphere. “I am surprised that this is coming from the Planning Commission,” said K. Keshava Rao, a Congress parliamentarian and member of a parliamentary standing committee on human resource development. “Commercialization of education has never been accepted in India and should never be. Foreign universities waiting to enter India will jump into the fray once this is finalized,” he said.

T.V. Mohandas Pai, former human resources director at Infosys Ltd, said: “The central government has too much restriction. Government restriction has only created a class of people but we have to go for the masses. I think there should be no debate on for-profit or not-for-profit as long as access and quality is taken care of. Only 13% of those eligible are pursuing higher education (in India) and this has to increase. For this we have to give access and quality and here inviting private sector would be a good move. I welcome this, if the Planning Commission has suggested it,” Pai said. “We have to look at outcome. You will see more people coming and joining the sector,” said Pai, who is associated with educational institutes, including the Bangalore University.

India has nearly 26,000 institutes of higher learning and over 530 universities catering to 16 million students. The country needs some 30,000 additional colleges to increase its gross enrolment ratio to 30% from 13% in a decade, according to official estimates. Pai said there is a huge problem of quality faculty, who are often not well-paid. “We have to address this also,” he said, indicating that for-profit organizations will pay more to teachers and attract better talent. All central government institutes, including the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), face a faculty shortfall of up to 33%, according to data available with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

Some corporate houses are opening higher educational institutes under state laws because some of the states are doing a good job by allowing it, Pai said. These include Azim Premji University in Karnataka, Shiv Nadar University in Uttar Pradesh and NIIT University in Rajasthan. These institutions are not-for-profit.

Foreign universities will show interest in setting up campuses if the government re-looks the not-for-profit tag in higher education, a MHRD official said, requesting anonymity. “This is the most contentious part (of the foreign university Bill) that you allow them to set up campus but not earn any return,” he said. “They cannot even expatriate the income. This part needs some relaxation.”

Once the government allows for-profit educational institutes, there will be three benefits — the practice of giving free land or land at concessional prices will stop, the institutes can be asked to give audit reports of income and expenditure, and there could be some guidelines on the selection of executive boards of the institutions, according to another government official, who too declined to be named. ISB’s Sinha agreed and added that if the proposal is unpalatable for political reasons, there could be a rider that “profit is allowed, but only 15% per annum”. “They can also asked to audit their book by the leading audit firms of the country to avoid malpractice,” Sinha said.

Source: Mint, August 29, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Apollo, XLRI join hands for healthcare management course

Apollo Hospitals and XLRI, Jamshedpur, have tied up to offer a one-year residential course – Executive Diploma in General Management and Healthcare that will train graduates to become better healthcare managers. According to industry chamber CII, around 2.5 million healthcare professionals will be added by 2012.

“This programme will help in creating management professionals with domain knowledge and will offer ample career opportunities in both the management and health care sector, either in a business role or a functional role,” said Fr. E. Abraham, SJ, Director.

To be jointly taught by faculty from XLRI and Apollo, the course aims to provide competency-based education in healthcare. Graduates from any discipline with three years of experience can apply for the programme, which is expected to commence in March 2012. A written test will be conducted at seven centres of Apollo, followed by interviews at the XLRI campus.

A total of 28 courses have been included in the curriculum with a month-long compulsory internship in the industry. Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. and XLRI have also partnered in leadership and management education for AHEL employees through a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in General Management.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 27, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

IIM-Ahmedabad incubator to start Rs. 1 billion green fund

The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad's (IIM-A) incubation centre is starting a Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) fund that will back start-ups developing technology related to sustainable energy. The Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) is collaborating with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Union government's investment fund Technology Development Board (TDB) and the UK's BP Plc for the Indian Fund for Sustainable Energy (INFUSE).

“While we incubate start-ups in (the) renewable energy space as well, we can't really help them graduate to the next level as their capital requirements are high,“ Kunal Upadhyay, Chief Executive, CIIE, said by phone. “Through this initiative, we will be able to support them further.“

INFUSE, a rare private-public-academia partnership, will incubate, build and support sustainable energy start-ups financially and through mentoring. The fund will be announced at an event at IIM-A on Thursday. Upadhyay said the fund will back start-ups from across the country, including firms not incubated at CIIE. The IIM-A incubation cell, which has a clean-tech portfolio of around 10 firms, will act as an investment adviser to the fund, seeking out emerging ideas and technologies for the start-ups it invests in.

INFUSE will hand-hold entrepreneurs through pilot studies and help them scale up their technologies with equity investments of up to Rs. 6 crore (Rs. 60 million). The fund has raised commit- ments for about Rs. 50 crore (Rs. 500 million) so far from the renewable energy ministry and TDB, and expects to raise the remaining corpus in two-months months. “We will not have a spray-and-pray approach. The plan is to fund good ideas and take them forward,“ said Upadhyay.

Shradha Sharma, founder of, which tracks start-ups and has the largest database of fledgling firms in the country, said India suffers a noticeable scarcity of entrepreneurs in the renewable energy space. Few entrepreneurs venture into this area because of a lack of a support system such as those available for the e-commerce, mobile value-added services and information technology sectors, she said. “If they (INFUSE) do very-early-stage investments, it's going to be a huge step for the sector as investors tend to shy away from these firms because they are often pre-revenue and have long gestation periods,“ Sharma said.

India has substantially strengthened its renewable energy plans in the past few years. The government now aims to add 17 gigawatts of renewable energy generation capacity by 2017, which will require up to $33.8 billion (nearly Rs. 1.55 trillion) in new investments.

Source: Mint, August 24, 2011

Academic interest up in corruption studies

The intense public engagement with Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption along with the attendant saturation media coverage is having an unintended side effect. Academic institutions across the country are seeing rising interest in the issue as a research subject.

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore has included corruption as a new elective. “The response from students as well as corporate executives coming for short-term courses is very enthusiastic,” said Siddhartha Rastogi, professor of economics at IIM Indore. The Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) and the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) in Delhi are all seeing proposals from students who want to focus on the issue as part of their course work.

By the end of September, IIM Indore’s Rastogi said he will modify the elective and “include the Anna Hazare movement in the context of the Lokpal. This is kind of history in the making and we need to incorporate it,” he said. “In future, this will be a great research subject.”

IIM Indore’s students have also conducted a survey across six IIMs on graft, the Lokpal Bill and the government’s response. Of the nearly 600 respondents, 81% didn’t like the government version of the Lokpal Bill as opposed to 5% who supported it. At least 61% backed the Jan Lokpal Bill, while 17% opposed it. The others had not read the Bill.

At Delhi University’s FMS, students took part in a 3-hour session on Tuesday to discuss Brand Anna. “Anna was projected as a new product in the market and (the discussion was about) how he managed to dent the image of existing market players like the Congress party,” said Anubhav Kanodia, a second-year student at FMS.

Corruption is like a wound and “Anna is working like a balm, hence, he and his movement interests all”, said Harsh V. Verma, a professor at FMS. “We don’t want to stop here. We will write papers, do deeper research and come out with a case study,” Verma added. “From my point of view, Anna is a successful brand.”

Transparency International (TI), an organization that seeks to fight corruption, said there has been a rise in interest among researchers. “The number of students approaching us for internship on corruption has doubled in 2011 from last year,” said Anupama Jha, Executive Director at TI. “Many of them are law students.”

Swati Attavar, an undergraduate Indian student at Cambridge University in the UK, said she was interested on a dissertation on corruption and that was why she approached TI. “Among Indian students in our university, this a subject of huge debate,” said Attavar, currently on a break in Bangalore. “I think soon people will take it up as an academic debate.”

“Youngsters do realize that corruption is a big issue and they are at a loss to find a role model. They found Anna as a model and are following him and his ideas even though many of them don’t understand the nitty-gritty of the subject,” Jha added.

Santosh Kumar Patra, a professor at MICA, said students at the institute have shown an increased interest in academic discourse on the subject, besides participating in anti-corruption rallies. No papers have emerged from this yet.

Source: Mint, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parliamentary Standing Committee raps MHRD for not consulting stakeholders

It is not just Team Anna that is unhappy with human resource development minister Kapil Sibal. The parliamentary standing committee on human resource development, headed by senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, too has expressed its displeasure with Sibal and his ministry.

The parliamentary panel has rapped the ministry for not undertaking consultations with all interested parties and stakeholders while framing crucial legislations aimed at reforming higher education. In its reports on key reform-oriented legislations relating to foreign education providers, prohibition of unfair practices, and national accreditation authority, the Standing Committee expressly stated its displeasure with the "level of consultations undertaken by the department".

"It is evident that consultation with all the stakeholders, which should have been ideally the starting point for formulating such a crucial piece of legislation for quality control of higher education sector in the country, remained the least priority issue for the department," the standing committee's report on the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for higher educational institutions bill states.

The parliamentary panel sought to remedy this lapse --- inadequate consultations with state governments, private and public stakeholders, academics --- by inviting active participation, soliciting views and appearances by stakeholders before the committee. The panel in its deliberations on the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010 found that there had been no consultation with any of statutory regulatory authorities.

"The Committee is dismayed to observe that other major stakeholders, that is, statutory regulatory bodies like UGC, MCI, AICTE, etc. remained a part of the formal exercise only├ó€¦ the ministry has candidly admitted that no direct consultations with regulatory bodies like MCI, DCI, etc have been undertaken," the Standing Committee's report states.

Source: The Economic Times, August 23, 2011

Revamped GRE to woo B-School aspirants

A good score in the revised GRE could be your ticket to an A grade business school around the globe. Till now, GMAT used to be the choice exam for students applying for an MBA, while GRE catered to the humanities and science streams.

In its new avatar, GRE will test a student's non-cognitive skills such as ethics and team work, essential for business school education, according to Mr. David Payne, Vice-President and COO, Higher Education Division, Educational Testing Service (ETS), Princeton. The new system came into force earlier this month.

Over the past few months, more business schools have started accepting GRE scores, taking the number to 600. Stanford, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and Harvard Business School are some of them. “This number is increasing every week. Nearly two-thirds of the top 100 B-schools have tied up with us,” Mr. Payne told Business Line.

There are more than 12,000 business schools in the US alone. With GRE wooing graduate business schools, the choice has widened for students. “The GRE revised General Test is being administered at more test centres in more cities and countries than all other graduate admissions exams used by business schools, making it easily accessible,” according to the test creator, ETS.

The new test costs less than other graduate-level admissions tests for business school, says Mr. Payne. This is GRE's first major revamp in 60 years. The test will now be four hours, instead of three. Students will be able to skip questions and return to them later. The vocabulary section with antonyms and analogies has been replaced with a critical reasoning section. There will also be a verbal and a math section. There is an on screen calculator for the quantitative section.

Some students are apprehensive of the new format and the different scoring system, but Mr. Payne says it has been redesigned to make it more test taker-friendly. For students registering for the test in August and September, there is a 50 per cent discount on the fees.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, August 23, 2011

IITs to adopt CAT for MBA programmes

In an interesting exercise in synergy, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have decided to abandon their decade-old entrance test for postgraduate management courses and adopt the exam conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). The move will also ease pressure on aspirants, who are required to appear for an array of tests every year.

The six older IITs at Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee have decided to scrap their own joint national management test from next year. The six institutes run two-year, full-time postgraduate management programmes with an intake of about 600 students. The IIMs take in fewer than 3,000 students every year, but charge a substantially higher fee than the IITs.

“Yes, we have decided to do away with our test and will accept CAT (common admission test),” confirmed Deveng V. Khakhar, Director at IIT Bombay, ending months of speculation. The IIT national test is almost similar to CAT, “so there is no point duplicating exams”, he said. The move has come at a time when the Union government has suggested reducing the number of national-level entrance tests of similar nature to ease the stress on candidates.

Besides CAT, other well-known entrance exams for management education are XAT by the XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur; MAT (management aptitude test) run by the All India Management Association; NMAT conducted by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai; the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad Admission Test; the Symbiosis National Aptitude Test and the Graduate Management Admission Test.

Resources from many faculties are requisitioned for more than six months for the joint management entrance test, said a senior official from another IIT. “When you conduct a national-level test for aspiring IIT minds, you have to prepare that way,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “A number of faculties get involved and there is loss of teaching time. From question paper preparation to fixing the test centre, the process involves a lot of logistical hassles. When you have an alternative, it is better to go for it.”

The official said that while the process is intensive, the turnout is not that huge. Last year, there were around 30,000 applicants for the IIT national test. Leading Union government institutes, including the elite IITs, face a faculty crunch of as much as 33%. Stopping the exam would relieve some of the pressure on them.

CAT 2011 convenor Janakiraman Moorthy confirmed that the IITs are in touch on this issue. “Both IIMs and IITs are great institutions and their coming together is good for all. This will also reduce another national test for selecting management students,” said Moorthy, who is also a professor at IIM Calcutta. “We want more institutions to join us for selecting candidates for their institutions. “A formal announcement will be made in a few days,” he added.

Moorthy said the format has been revamped for CAT 2011 to some extent with the number of segments being lowered to two from three, with an emphasis on communication and analytical ability. This was an element in the test conducted by the IITs. Students welcome the move. “IITs have really good management departments. If you don’t get older IIMs, but get a seat in IITs for the MBA, then you will not regret (it). Both of them making CAT as the common admission criteria is good for students like me,” said Dipak Kumar, a CAT aspirant in New Delhi.

With IITs set to adopt CAT, the IIMs expect the number of test takers to increase. Last year, there were 204,000 CAT aspirants, while in 2009, the number was at least 242,000. “The numbers are expected to go up this time. With a better placement season last academic year, we are expecting a spiral,” added Moorthy. CAT 2011 starts on 22 October and ends on 18 November.

Experts also welcomed the move. “This is a step in right direction as the best should do what they do best,” said Narayanan Ramaswamy, Executive Director (Education Practice) at audit and consulting firm KPMG. “IIM-CAT is a proven test and IITs accepting CAT is like borrowing from the best. I believe entrance test is the first step and they should more often share faculties and material for their management courses. Running a national-level entrance involves huge expense. When CAT is already there, why redo it.”

Source: Mint, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

ISB to extend one-year PGPM course by six months

Global economic meltdown of 2008 and changing needs of industry and business is forcing B-schools to review curriculum. Indian School of Business (ISB), known for its one-year residential Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGPM), is likely to extend the duration of the course by including six-month internship. The institute is also looking at removing/adding certain subjects as per the need of recruiters.

MBA education and B-schools came in for heavy criticism for failing to adapt to changing global economy, particularly after the sub-prime crisis in the US that raised a need for ethical business practices and leadership skills at corporations, more so at financial institutions. Harvard Business School was among the first to address these needs by putting more weightage on industry experience.

In India, IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Calcutta recently organised a two-day conference "MBA Education: The Road Ahead" where some 30 B-Schools and recruiters participated and started a process to prepare a curriculum that can produce industry ready graduates. Both the IIMs carried out a survey which suggested that many recruiters do not get expected skills in the recruits. The next conference will be organised at IIM-Calcutta in October.

Many B-Schools, including IIMs, are expected to use the outcome of the conference for curriculum change in the near future. SP Jain Institute of Management & Research changed its curriculum recently and Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) has kickstarted the process. Faculty at Harvard Business School Srikant Datar, who authored the book "Rethinking The MBA: Business Education at a Crossroad", is going to organise similar conferences in the US, Europe, Latin America, China and Africa by April 2012.

ISB had reviewed its curriculum some five years ago. "It is necessary to review curriculum of MBA course every five years. We have seen that a large number of B-Schools have changed their curriculum after slowdown. We have also started the process in May this year," said Dishan Kamdar, senior associate dean of ISB, who is also chairman of the curriculum review committee.

The committee consists faculty representatives from areas like finance, marketing, strategy, organisational behavior, operations, accounting and IT. They will get feedback from various stakeholders like recruiters, alumni and other B-Schools. According to Kamdar, the curriculum review usually takes two years but they plan to complete it in a year. "The review will help us to know whether there is a need for major reform or not. We have seen that large investment banks offer Pre-Placement Offers (PPOs) only to interns. Our PGP course does not have internship. After the review, we may include internship as well and to accommodate it, we may increase PGP course duration by six months," Kamdar added. In the 2011 placement season, ISB received 33% offers in consulting, 21% in IT/ITes and only 12% in banking and financial services sector.

Currently, ISB offers Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) to the PGP students under which they work in teams with the industry. Students study areas like market positioning and entry strategies, new product development, developing growth strategies and talent management strategies in ELP. ISB may also add a subject on business ethics in the new curriculum. "Currently, students attend one-day conference about ethics, but in the MBA education, the subject has become important and we may add ethics as a subject," he added.

ISB's founding associate and associate schools like Wharton, Kellog School of Management, London Business School, MIT Sloan and The Fletcher School are also providing feedback for the curriculum change to ISB. Deepak Chandra, deputy dean of ISB, also said internships can be added in the new curriculum. "MBA schools have a challenge to prove that MBA education fulfils the new-age needs. India needs quality business leaders. The changing times demand that B-Schools create responsibility in students to take decisions," he said. ISB will also think about relevance of subjects and cases in terms of needs of Indian economy. It will also review teaching pedagogies and may increase emphasis on learning through simulations.

Source: The Economic Times, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Common exam for undergraduate programmes: HRD Minister

The Government intends to have a common examination for under-graduate programmes across the country from 2013 and prepare a common merit list as part of efforts to prepare quality of education, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said today. He also told the Lok Sabha that the government would crack down on fake universities, the practice of taking capitation fee, misleading advertisements and other malpractices regarding which a bill is being brought.

Replying to a debate on a bill to amend the National Institutes of Technology Act, Sibal said the government is keen on improving the quality of education and in this regard world class universities would be set up in the country.

The National Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2010, which proposes structural changes in such educational establishments and bringing in its ambit the five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), was passed by a voice vote later.

Talking about the initiatives taken by government to improve the quality of education, Sibal said there was an effort to provide equal opportunities to both rural and urban students. He said his attempt was to have common entrance test at under-graduate level from 2013 and then prepare an all-India merit list. As per the merit, candidates would qualify for prestigious technical institutes, the minister said, adding an expert committee was examining the matter.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kerala cabinet goes to IIM to crack governance puzzle

If management is all about efficient use of resources, there would be few states in India that would need a crash course like Kerala, given its wealth of human and other resources and questionable use of the same. On Thursday, therefore, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleagues parked themselves at the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K), for a full-day programme rightly titled "Governance Insights for Transformation" (GIFT).

Their reason to be taking management lessons could not have been driven home better than the state of roads from Thrissur to Kozhikode: Fast-passenger buses of the hugely loss-making Kerala State Road Transport Corporation take about four hours to do the crater-filled 120 km stretch. The state's NRIs (Non Resident Indians) who number a few million, would vouch that the Dubai-Kochi flight takes only a shade over three hours, while the 200-odd kms from the airport to Pathanamthitta takes roughly five hours.

Chandy and his cabinet colleagues showed good attitude by turning up at the campus on time, and then switching off their mobile phones for the classes before the team led by IIM-K Director Debashish Chatterjee took over, leading them through the learning verticals.

The topics covered included agriculture (which Kerala has long deserted, with palatial, petro-dollar funded homes having usurped paddy fields), information technology (in which the state is a poor fourth to its southern neighbours Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh), environment (on which hinges the state's future in tourism), investment, and health and education (where early accolades are being replaced by brickbats).

The cabinet was explained the context of the programme by Prof. Saji Gopinath who pitched Kerala's place in the India growth story, with statistics. They were then given insights on the investment climate in Kerala by Prof. Chandrajit Bannerjee, while Prof. Unnikrishnan impressed on them the need to build a culture of performance.

The 'students' would have munched particularly long on building a culture of performance, considering that many of the state's projects have remained on paper for years together, including the Vizhinjam container transhipment project, the Kochi metro rail, the SmartCity, and the north-south expressway project. The metro, SmartCity and expressway projects date back to the previous UDF government's tenure, while it is over a century since the Vizhinjam project was first mooted.

Chatterjee told ET that the CM was happy that his team got such a "wealth of ideas" in a day, and that the IIM-K team, too, learned a few things from the leaders, including the complexity of a day in the life of a chief minister. He advised the CM that governance ought to look at the next generation rather than the next election, considering that the new generation was making history rather than dwelling on the past.

The organisers preferred to call the programme, "Kerala, a gift unopened". Chandy would be in total agreement, considering that the state receives roughly Rs. 20,000 crore (Rs. 200 billion) in annual NRI remittances and recently stumbled upon an estimated Rs. 1 trillion worth of wealth in the cellars of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in the state capital, neither of which can be unlocked by the state government.

Chandy and his team had the job of figuring that out with their newly acquired management tips while their convoy negotiated the decrepit roads back from Kozhikode.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 18, 2011

US losing ground to India, China in science, technology: Obama

As he grapples with the problem of a sluggish economy and rising unemployment, President Barack Obama is worried his country is fast losing ground to India and China in the fields of Science and Mathematics, expertise in which raises employability. Obama has time and again exhorted American students to focus hard on competing with their counterparts in India and China. On his bus tour to 'connect' to rural America, the President once again hammered in his point that the country needs to raise the stakes in Science and technology.

Wrapping up his three-day bus tour to rural America with a town hall meeting in the southern Atkinson county, Obama said his administration was focussing hard on orienting children in lower schools towards these vital fields. "One of the things I'm worried about and we're trying to put a lot of emphasis on in the Department of Education is, can we do more to encourage math, science, engineering, technology learning... if you are a skilled engineer, if you are a skilled computer scientist, if you've got strong math and technical skills, you are going to be very employable in today's economy," Obama said.

"That has to start even before young people get to college. So we're trying to institute a whole -- what's called a STEM programme -- science, technology, engineering and math -- in the lower schools so that kids start getting oriented towards those fields," he said. Obama said these were the areas where America traditionally had a comparative advantage, but "we're losing ground to China and India" and places where those kids are just focused on those subjects.

Obama's bus tour to rural areas has come at a time when he is battling his lowest popularity ratings, and has failed to lift up the slowing economy. Knowledge of foreign languages too, he said, was a valuable asset that lends an extra edge to students in getting jobs in other countries. "I will tell you, though, just in case there are any French teachers here or foreign language teachers, having a foreign language, that's important, too. "That makes you so much more employable because if you go to a company and they're doing business in France or Belgium or Switzerland or Europe somewhere, and they find out you've got that language skill, that's going to be important as well," he said.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 18, 2011

In Mumbai, a PG medical seat costs Rs. 17 million

A postgraduate radiology seat in a private medical college in Navi Mumbai has sold for Rs 1.7 crore (Rs. 17 million). The capitation fee is a 40% increase over last year and indicates a shift in the preferences of medical students, with subjects like radiology and orthopaedics overtaking favourites like paediatrics and gynaecology. While the medical fraternity is shocked at the transaction, and also concerned about the quality of doctors emerging from such deals, it feels helpless in the face of private colleges' autonomy.

Doctors said the sale, along with another of Rs. 1.3 crore (Rs. 13 million), indicated a trend that medical students want to earn a quick buck-a radiologist starts in practice with earnings ranging from Rs. 100,000-1.5 million a month, depending on the location of his or her diagnostic centre, equipment and clientele. Also, demand clearly outstrips supply by a huge number.

In the Mumbai-Navi Mumbai belt, there are just 22 radiology seats in government medical colleges and half that in private colleges for thousands of aspirants. In orthopaedics and gynaecology, the numbers of government seats are 36 and 26. The scarcity is pervasive, with over 10,000 postgraduate aspirants fighting for little over 1,100 government seats across the state. Of these, only 250 seats belong to trendy subjects. "The dearth of postgraduate government seats is mainly to blame for seat sale by private colleges," said Dr. Farhan Hamid, General Secretary, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.

Pravin Shingare of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) denied knowledge of the seat sale. Nevertheless, he said the demand for private seats had skyrocketed because of a dearth of government seats. "Government colleges are losing out on postgraduate seats for want of teachers (a decade ago, the state had 1,900 postgraduate seats). We are looking at the problem." He said subjects like radiology and orthopaedics were the most preferred because "medical practice today is strictly evidence-based as opposed to being clinical-based till a few years ago".

Kishor Taori, a former president of the All India Radiological and Imaging Association, said radiology is the youngest branch of medicine and also the most advanced. "Radiology has gone to the level of becoming an industry. Today, several radiologists are coming together to start their own diagnostic centres to compete with corporate hospitals." A doctor said that with interventional radiology replacing many conventional surgical approaches, radiologists could soon become primary clinicians.

Over the years, subjects like general medicine and surgery have gone down the ladder of preferences also because these branches need further specialization for doctors to make the most of them. It all came to a head recently, when a student of anaesthesiology at the civic-run Sion Hospital committed suicide after failing to get a seat in paediatrics. "The competition is more ruthless when it comes to super-specialty seats," said a senior state official. Medical students say the price tag of private seats in courses like neurology, gastroenterology, cardiology and nephrology is as much as Rs 2. crore (Rs. 20 million).

To curb this grey area in medical education, a single entrance test can go a long way, said Dr. K.S. Sharma, a member of the board of governors of the Medical Council of India (MCI). "Donations could be a reality, but as regulators, there is little we can do. The commercial exploitation of medical education is a fall-out of awarding private licences or deemed university status to several colleges. They are autonomous and have their own strategies." Medical college professors say it is high time the government stopped the sale of seats. A senior professor from JJ Hospital said: "It is scary to think of the means a doctor would adopt to recover the donation amount from society."

Source: The Economic Times, August 18, 2011

IIM Ranchi Nanos business education to reach out to masses

What Tata Motors Ltd. did to cars, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Ranchi wants to do to business education -- by offering a post-graduate diploma in business management (put simply, an MBA) for Rs. 100,000. The IIM aims to adopt the open university concept to reach out to the masses and, according to the institute's director M.J. Xavier, plans to set up small study centres across India and integrate them with the main campus.

"Over 200,000 students appear for the Common Admission Test (CAT), but less than 5,000 make it to IIMs. Here, we want to reach out to a larger base," Xavier said in an interview. The director was in New Delhi last week to participate in the Indian Management Conclave. "There is a demand for quality management education at an affordable price. We want to be innovative -- by opening study centres and linking them to the main campus, we can achieve that," he explained.

On an average, the tuition fee for an MBA works out to around Rs. 1 million. There were 204,000 people who appeared for CAT 2010; the previous year the number was over 242,000. CAT is a computerized entrance exam for those seeking a berth in IIMs.

IIM Ranchi is convinced it can reach out to 10,000 students in three-five years with its new programme. Xavier said two large companies in south India are ready to send 200 employees each for full-time courses through study centres. He declined to identify the companies. "IIM Ranchi wants to create its own brand for others to follow by reaching out to the masses, both in the corporate sector and otherwise. I am already working on the model and in the next six months a few institutes in Jharkhand can be interlinked with the IIM," he said.

Xavier said that while critics may find the model wanting on account of those enrolling for the programme not benefiting from a campus atmosphere, this century is all about reaching out. "Why cannot we reach smaller cities and towns? The country's economy is growing and here rural India plays a key role. We need efficient managers in those parts of the country. I know IIMs have not done it so far, but we want to cater to such a market," he added.

The school would not need to invest much in creating and running the programme, Xavier said. "One-third of the course will be taken care of by the permanent faculty, one-third by the visiting faculty from both academia and industry, and the rest will be e-content," he added.

Sanjeev Bajaj, chief coordinator at the Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), said IIM Ranchi is changing the tradition. "Unlike other IIMs, IIM Ranchi is believing in collaboration with private institutes. Xavier has a vision and he is working towards it," he added. XISS is one of the schools in Ranchi that the IIM is looking to work with when it offers the programme.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about IIM Ranchi's idea. "It does not look to me as a great idea. Let's see how the IIM works it out," said S.S. Sarkar, head of the department of business administration at Tezpur University, a central university in Assam.

Source: Mint, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Admission of Indian students for graduate-level studies in US increases by 8%

The number of Indian students coming to the US for graduate-level studies has increased by eight per cent from 2010 to 2011, while those from China topped the list with a record rise of 23 per cent, according to a latest report. The overall foreign graduate admissions rose by 11 per cent from 2010 to 2011, the largest increase since 2006, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) said in its survey report on admission trends. Last year the increase was just three per cent. Among foreign countries, China topped the list with a record increase of 23 per cent, the report released yesterday said.

The growth was driven substantially by a 23 per cent increase in offers of admission to prospective students from China, the sixth year in a row of double-digit gains, said the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). "Offers of admission to students from the Middle East and Turkey rose 16 per cent, the fourth consecutive year of significant growth. Students from India saw an eight per cent increase, the first gain since 2007, and offers of admission to prospective South Korean students remained flat after four consecutive years of declines," the report said.

"While the growth in admissions is driven in large part by increases from China, it also reflects a broader trend as evidenced by strong numbers from the Middle East and India and a stabilisation in the numbers from South Korea," said Debra W. Stewart, CGS President. This kind of strong growth in international student applications and admissions is "a real testament" to the quality of the US graduate institutions in an increasingly competitive marketplace, she said.

According to the report, the changes in offers of admission to prospective international students vary by field of study and institution type. Admissions increased in all eight broad fields. The largest increases were seen in business (16 per cent) and physical and earth sciences (15 per cent) while social sciences and psychology saw the smallest increase at three per cent.

Offers of admission increased at nearly the same rate at both private, not-for-profit institutions (12 per cent) and public institutions (11 per cent), the report said. Offers of admission by US graduate schools to prospective international students increased in all four major regions of the United States this year. The West saw the most growth (13 per cent), the South and Midwest both increased by 11 per cent and the Northeast grew by 10 per cent, it said.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 17, 2011

From 2013, give only one test for MBA admissions

In a move that will cut down the multiple entrance exams that students are forced to take for admission to management courses across the country, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to conduct a common admission test from 2012-13. The test will cover admissions to both MBA and postgraduate diploma in management.

The decision to hold a pan-India Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) was taken at the recent executive council meeting of the AICTE, the umbrella body for professional courses. While CMAT will be one of the entrance exams to be held in 2012, the Council wants all its colleges and institutes to admit students based on their CMAT scores from 2013. "Almost every college was holding an entrance exam. Moreover, each state has its own entrance tests, and private associations have their own exams," AICTE Chairman S. S. Mantha said. "In principle, CMAT will be a test for all AICTE-approved institutes and will reduce the stress and financial burden on students."

However, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), which are independent and autonomous B-schools, will continue to conduct the CAT (common admission test). Deemed universities will also hold their individual entrance tests. But admission to 4,000 colleges that offer an MBA and another 500 which run diploma programmes will take place on the basis of the CMAT.

"We still have to work out the modalities of conducting the CMAT. But having so many exams, all of varied difficulty levels, also raises concerns about the quality of students who enter this professional course," Mantha added. It is for the first time that the AICTE has spoken about holding an entrance exam; to date, it has largely been an approval-seeking body for new colleges and institutes wanting to expand student intake.

The Management Aptitude Test (MAT), which is taken by 385,000 students every year, is currently the largest B-school entrance test. Hari Krishna Maram, governing council member of AIMA which conducts MAT, said "I welcome the idea of a single entrance exam for management courses in the interest of students. The government has been talking about it for quite sometime, but the idea hasn`t taken off. I do not know if a single exam will work since different universities have different admission schedules. MAT, on the other hand, is conducted four times a year and this helps students to take the exam whenever they are free."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

IIMs to tweak CAT to test knowledge, not just aptitude

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will tweak their Common Admission Test (CAT) format this year to evaluate aspiring MBAs more for accuracy and knowledge than aptitude in an attempt to "establish CAT as an Indian exam of international repute," like the GMAT and GRE, according to CAT committee convener Janakiraman Moorthy. The exam, which had made a controversial switchover from paperpencil format to computer-based testing two years ago may become computer-adaptive, an international format where the difficulty level rises with each correct answer.

"Currently, it is a computer-based test, but once the format stabilises, we will have to decide if we want to make it computer-adaptive," says Moorthy, who will supervise the exam this year. In the new-format test, students will get 140 minutes to answer 60 questions spread equally over two sections, down from the earlier three. Candidates cannot move on to the next section till 70 minutes are over, unlike last year, when they had 135 minutes to attempt the same number of questions without any section-wise time restriction. The section-wise time allocation will end race against time in the exam which always puts speed at a premium.

The exam will be conducted between October 22 and November 18 across 36 cities; Bhilai, Jammu and Dehradun being the new centres. "We have seen students spending too much time on a particular section and consequently find less time for other sections. Now, they will have only two sections with 30 questions and 70 minutes each. This will ensure that they concentrate on one section at a time. The new format will help students focus on quantitative ability and data interpretation in section I and verbal ability and logical reasoning in section II," adds Moorthy, maintaining that there would be no impact on the results.

Earlier, the CAT paper would have three sections - data interpretation & logical reasoning, quantitative ability & verbal ability and comprehension "CAT was more of an aptitude test some 10 years ago when students had to solve 180 questions in 120 minutes. The number of questions has been decreasing and now, it is a test of knowledge. The new format offers almost double the time to solve one question," says Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman and MD of Career Launcher. Students believe there will now be more of a level-playing field for students from non-engineering backgrounds.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), August 16, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Concern over doctors migrating abroad

Expressing concern over doctors migrating to foreign countries, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Sunday said the 'poaching' needs to be stopped. Speaking after laying the foundation stone of a new block in Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Azad said in the last three years over 3,500 doctors have gone out of India.

"In the last three years, around 3,500 doctors have joined other countries as medical professionals. This poaching needs to be stopped as it is India that is spending money and resources on their training and skill development," Azad said.

Speaking about increasing the health infrastructure, the health minister said six new AIIMS like institutions will be ready by 2013 in the states of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa and Uttarakhand.

The minister said special incentives were being given to agencies constructing the projects to ensure timely completion. "We have introduced incentive-based projects where the agencies given the task of building projects are awarded with incentives. So this should speed up the infra development in health sector," Azad said.

The minister laid the foundation stone of a new convergence centre in AIIMS which will have the department of anatomy, electron microscopy, knowledge centre, pathology, bio-chemistry pharmacology and micro biology. Being built at a cost of Rs.50.85 crore (Rs. 508.5 million), it is likely to be completed in 18 months.

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

“IITs must focus on R&D”

Pointing out that as a growing economy India's research and development (R&D) needs are gigantic, Planning Commission member Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan on Saturday urged Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to develop R&D capabilities relationships with public and private enterprises. Addressing the 42nd Annual Convocation of IIT-Delhi, which is celebrating its Golden Jubilee year, Dr. Kasturirangan said that in the emerging global economic order, competition has been the mantra for growth.

“While competition and dominance of free markets are not panacea for all the problems that we are confronted with, we need to recognise their inevitable role and positive thrust for our economic development. Policies for ensuring a minimum standard of living as well as empowerment of deprived should go hand in hand with the liberal economic policies,” he said.

And for bringing about such competition driven growth, Dr. Kasturirangan said: “A strong R&D sector is essential, whose role extends to key development issues such as low-cost universal health care, clean water supply and efficient energy use.” Emphasising the need for innovation, Dr. Kasturirangan said governments can extend support through policy interventions, building infrastructures, catalysing markets by playing anchor-tenant role and instituting incentives and funding mechanisms.

Earlier, the former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman said investment in education was becoming a compelling cause even for advanced nations as they were faced with economic upheavals, rising competitions and loss of jobs. After his address, Dr. Kasturirangan was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) for his contributions in science and technology.

IIT-Delhi Board of Governors chairman R. P. Agrawal, who conferred the degree, informed that a report prepared by Dr. Anil Kakodakar Committee – asked by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to draw a road map for future of IITs as world-class institutions – has suggested that IITs should scale up their Ph.D. output.

Later, Distinguished Alumni Awards were conferred on Dr. Anant Jhingran, an IBM Fellow, vice-president and chief-technical-officer for Information Management, and Dinesh Manocha from the University of North Carolina in the United States. The convocation concluded with honouring students from IIT-Delhi with Ph.D., M.S. (Research), M.Tech, MBA, M.Sc., B.Tech and P.G. diplomas for the year 2010-11. This year, 173 scholars received their Ph.D. degrees.

Source: The Hindu, August 14, 2011

At IIT-Delhi, more girls than boys in engineering

At the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D), there's a revolution of sorts underway, with more girls than boys among the multitude of budding engineers. This is largely due to the rise in enrollment rate of girls this academic year by 3%, as against that in 2010. Of about 800 students enrolled in 2011 in the undergraduate courses this year, 111 are girls, about 13% as against 10% in 2010. The postgraduate enrollment this year stands at 20% of the total admitted students.

"There has been a marked increase in the number of girls taking admission in IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology). This year, about 111 girls have been admitted across all disciplines. There are more girls in streams such as textile technology and chemical engineering," said Shantanu Choudhury, Dean of undergraduate studies, IIT.

The girls' academic performance, too, has shown an upward trend over the last few years. "Even though the overall topper is a boy, girls have won silver medals in different streams. Quite a few streams have female toppers. In fact, out of 15 disciplines, girls have topped in six disciplines," Choudhury said.

This trend, the institute believes, could inspire several girls to take up engineering as a career in the future. "Preparing for the IIT-JEE (IIT-Joint Entrance Examination) is a tedious task which tends to deter girls. Girls are becoming aware of the viable career options after pursuing engineering so much so that the topper this year in electrical engineering is a girl," he added.

In the postgraduate disciplines as well, the increased enrollment of women has been heartening, with girls outshining boys in computer science applications, Instrument Technology and Design engineering. "It is a matter of pride to see many women taking up postgraduate studies in engineering at IIT, specially in disciplines such as computer science and electrical engineering. This is spread out across all fields of postgraduate study such as M Tech, MSc and PhD. We have also noted that the number of girls appearing for the joint entrance has gone up steadily," said K. Gupta, Dean of postgraduate studies, IIT.

Source: Hindustan Times, August 14, 2011

Demand for degree shrinks, engineering colleges up for sale

Trusts owning engineering colleges in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are putting these institutions up for sale due to a shrinking demand for the degree. At least half a dozen colleges are on the lookout for buyers in Andhra Pradesh, which alone produces the largest number of engineers in the country. These four states have more than 1,500 engineering colleges, with 500,000 seats. Andhra alone has 700 colleges.

“Since 2005 there has been a spurt in engineering colleges in Andhra and Karnataka. But due to shrinking demand, many trusts are now looking for buyers,” said Sandeep Aneja, Managing Director of Kaizen Private Equity, a firm focused on the education sector. “The problem with many of these institutions is they have no brand name; they manage to meet the most basic requirements set forth by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education). They have the licences, but bare infrastructure development and zero brand name. They produce engineers who do not find jobs,” Aneja said.

The Kollam-based Travancore Engineering College, for example, has been on sale for six months, according to a broker, who is incharge of the sale. Established in 2002, the college spreads over 25 acres and has 1,350 seats. Its promoters denied they had put the college on sale, but sources said they wanted to set up a school, which they believed might be a more profitable proposition. The promoters are believed to be demanding Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion). Another college affiliated to the Anna University is also up for sale with an asking price of Rs. 120 crore (Rs. 1.2 billion), according to an advertisement on a classifieds website. The college, spread over 54.5 acres, has 1,850 seats.

Vocational education, including engineering and management, is regulated by AICTE which allots each educational institution the number of seats it can allot in a given course. A sale would entail the transfer of the AICTE licence. “Broadly, there should be no problem in the transfer of seat permits because they will come under the Property Act and would fall in the category assets being transferred by one owner to another owner,” said an official of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD).

In 2010, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) had said 75 per cent of engineers were unemployable. The problem of vacant seats came to the limelight earlier this year, when fears surfaced that over 150,000 seats might remain vacant in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka alone.

Several private equity (PE) players, along with trusts and non-educational buyers, are in the fray. But PE players will not be able to make any headway because of hurdles in exit. “While many engineering college trusts in Andhra and Karnataka have put up assets, including land and licence, on sale, most of them are non-profit institutions. Under the existing law, assets from these trusts cannot be used for profit making,” said Jacob Kurian, partner, New Silk Route. Kurian’s New Silk Route is a PE fund with assets worth $1.4 billion under management. “The advantage for the buyer would be to re-brand existing infrastructure and work through present licences,” Kurian said.

The buyer will gain land which is increasingly becoming difficult to acquire. Also, there is the lure of existing seat allocations that bigger private universities believe can be filled with their own brand name. A player involved in a deal said there was no problem in PE players getting into the space. “I do not see the not-for-profit issue a hurdle because we can put up the money and our experts in charge of operations, and exit at a later date. As long as we do not take money out of the college itself, there should be no problem,” the investor said.

Buyers, who have been approached, told Business Standard a typical deal could range between Rs. 30 crore (Rs. 300 million) and Rs. 200 crore (Rs. 2 billion), depending on the kind of assets and infrastructure.

Source: Business Standard, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

IIT Delhi will soon have a second campus

The Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) is planning to set up a second campus. And it will be in Haryana. The institute has been offered 100 acres of land by the Haryana government, said Surendra Prasad, Director of IIT-D. The move will help the institute tide over shortage of space on campus. At present, IIT-D has the highest student strength among all IITs and operates from the smallest campus. “We have 300 acres here, of which about 250 acres is functional. The rest is forest area,” Prasad said.

Earlier, New York City had made an offer to IIT-D to set up a campus there, but the institute’s administration said they wanted to expand in India first before looking at overseas options. The NYC offer has been taken up by IIT-Bombay. There is also a proposal for an International Institute of Technology by the Mauritius government. “That will have to be a joint effort of all the IITs. No individual IIT has that kind of resources,” Prasad said.

The Haryana project is at a preliminary stage at the moment. Deputy Director Balakrishnan said land would be allotted in six months and the blueprint could also be ready. “We also need to find the funding to build research facilities there,” he said. The funding for the expansion, he said, will have to be generated by IIT-D itself, as this will not be an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

The institute completes 50 years on August 16 and is holding its 42nd convocation on Saturday. A total of 1,493 students will be awarded degrees. Five distinguished alumni will also be awarded at the function — Prof. D. P. Agarwal, Chairman of Union Public Sservice Commission, Government of India; Ashok Belani, Executive Vice President of Schlumberger Ltd.; Patanjali Keswani, Chairman and MD of Lemon Tree and Red Fox hotels; Dr. Anant Jhingran, VP and CTO of Information at IBM Corporation; and Prof. Dinesh Manocha of University of Carolina.

Source: The Indian Express, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

B-schools turn to villages for inclusive management lessons

Fourteen villages located near the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, boast 100% literacy, claimed Bala Balachandran, founder and Dean of the business school. Students of Great Lakes have been teaching the villagers as part of the school’s efforts to engage with the “base of the pyramid”, he said.

This is but one example of a growing trend among India’s top business schools, including the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). They are trying to inculcate a sense of social and environmental responsibility among students to make them better managers—not just through extracurricular initiatives but also as part of their management curricula.

“There is more to the bottom line of a company,” said Balachandran, who earlier taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Kellogg School of Management in the US. “B-schools need a B-quotient, and here it means emotional quotient and compassion for society.”

Students at IIM-Ranchi have been asked to spend weekends in nearby villages. “Some students don’t like it, but we know in the long run this will make them complete managers,” said M.J. Xavier, Director of the institute. “Unless you understand the socio-cultural realities, the business decisions may not be perfect.” Xavier said his students have designed an environmental awareness course for miners, as the institute is based in a state known for mining: Jharkhand. “Besides, we are teaching students yoga and a module on inner development.”

Both Balachandran and Xavier were in New Delhi on Thursday to attend a conference on management education, along with several peers. P. Rameshan, Director of IIM-Rohtak, said it is his institute’s responsibility to contribute to society. “We are organizing a marathon with villagers in Haryana to create awareness about female foeticide,” he said. Haryana has among the poorest sex ratios in India because of rampant female foeticide.

XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, located in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, has made it compulsory for students to spend some weekends in villages. Director E. Abraham said budding managers should learn from the people they are going to view as prospective customers. “The principles of global management—dialogue and communicating with real society—have to be there as part of the teaching,” said Abraham, a former director of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. XLRI has also started a so-called “joy of giving week” to collect clothes and distribute among the poor.

At the Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi, students must do a 40-day stint in villages, said Sanjeev Bajaj, chief coordinator. The Indian economy is changing, he said, and there is a demand for managers outside of corporate jobs. “Even in a corporate set up, you need to interact with the workforce at their level. Labour relations is key to corporate success. Here we have to learn from all.”

Source: Mint, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MHRD to address foreign university bill corpus hurdle

The Centre will review certain clauses in the Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill to attract more overseas institutions looking to set shop in India. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided to revise downwards the minimum corpus of Rs. 50 crore (Rs. 500 million) required to set up campus in India by all foreign institutions. The move was prompted by a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

“The corpus will not be Rs. 50 crore for every institution. Considering that a diverse set of educational institutions have expressed interest to have operations in India, it is not feasible to have the Rs. 50 crore corpus condition for everyone,” an MHRD official told Business Standard. The official said education institutions, including community colleges, vocational training institutions, professional colleges, general education institutions and medical institutions, had expressed interest to set up operations.

The provision in the bill that bars foreign universities from repatriating profits is also being discussed. However, the pre-condition wherein a foreign education institution was not allowed to utilise more than 75 per cent of the income (from the corpus fund) towards development of the institution in India, may be reviewed by the ministry and it might allow these institutes to invest the surplus in growth of the institution, after a certain lock-in period.

According to MHRD, since last March when the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations, Maintenance of Quality and Prevention of Commercialisation) Bill was cleared by the Cabinet, several international education institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, Virginia Tech, Columbia University, University of Southern California and University of Alabama, had expressed interest to operate out of India.

The bill will be re-introduced once it is amended and cleared by the Ministry of Law and Justice and the President of India. MHRD also said that the amended bill will be tabled after the Education Tribunal Bill, which will be an adjudicatory authority even for foreign institutions, is passed by both Houses. Education Tribunal Bill will facilitate setting up of tribunals at the national, state and regional levels to settle disputes related to institutions at various levels. It has been passed by the Lok Sabha, but is yet to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha.

About 15 bills related to education are waiting to be tabled before the Parliament during the ongoing monsoon session, including the Universities for Innovation Bill that would allow setting up of special universities with a focus on innovation and research. Yale university has expressed interest to help India develop innovation universities. The premier institution had earlier told Business Standard that it had entered into over 50 academic collaborations in India and is interested in more such partnerships. However, it does not have immediate plans to set up a campus.

A formal research in 2008 had revealed that around 140 Indian institutions and 156 foreign education providers were engaged in academic collaborations. Of the 156 overseas education institutions, 90 have university status and 20 are colleges. The remaining offer training courses. The total number of collaborations was 225 and with each collaboration having over one programme delivery, the total number collaboratively delivered stands at 635.

The Foreign Educational Institutions bill, says MHRD, will be a gateway through which all institutions will pass the quality test and have a mechanism to enter India without going through a process that is too intrusive. “You have to give a legal framework where best institutions from the world can come on the basis of their brand. You cannot have chalk and cheese on the same platter for comparison. There should be a predictable framework under which all these collaborations happen. This bill is an enabling mechanism,” said another MHRD official.

The the highest number of collaborations take place in the field of management and business administration (26 per cent), followed by engineering and technology/computer application/information technology, (over 22 per cent) and hotel management and house keeping (20 per cent). The foreign collaborations are highly concentrated in Maharashtra and Delhi, followed by Tamil Nadu.

MRHD sources say over 50 foreign universities have evinced interest in setting up campuses in India.

Source: Business Standard, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coming Up: IIT, Bombay-New York

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, could be the first Indian institution to have a campus in the United States. The institute has submitted an “initial proposal to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)” for setting up a campus in New York City. The initiative by NYCEDC, launched in December 2010, seeks a university, institution or consortium to develop and operate a new or expanded campus in NYC.

IIT-Bombay plans to start post-graduate programmes in five disciplines at the proposed campus. “Having a campus there will make a huge difference. We will be able to engage with US universities on a closer basis and they too will be able to see our capabilities first hand,” said A Q Contractor, Dean of Alumni and Corporate Relations, IIT-Bombay. Officials said a detailed proposal will be submitted by October-end.

“The proposed campus will lead to exciting possibilities of sharing human capital, research funding and infrastructure. It will create seamless twinning opportunity for students of New York and Mumbai campuses. The students at IITB-NY campus will receive excellent quality of education, exposure to Indian culture and business practices. Budding entrepreneurs at the proposed campus will find a landing space in India through a well-established business incubator and a window to an economy slated to be the world’s largest by 2050,” says the initial proposal accessed by The Indian Express.

“It will provide IIT-Bombay an opportunity to create an off-shore campus that will bring in much needed diversity...We expect IIT-Bombay’s experience in designing niche academic programmes will be very helpful to the US clientele at the proposed campus,” it adds.

The initial plan is to start masters’ and doctoral programmes in five core engineering disciplines. “They include electrical and communication engineering; computer science and engineering; chemical science; industrial design and aeronautical engineering. We have selected those five areas where IIT-Bombay has standing and strength and which are also areas where applied research today is most likely to translate into processes and products useful to the market,” said Devang Khakhar, IIT-Bombay Director.

The proposal talks about a “modest beginning” with around 50 faculty, 150 post-doctoral fellows and about 100 graduate students. Assuming that both land and building will be made available, an approximate estimate of the initial grant required is put at $100 million.

Further, the operating budget has been worked out to be $43 million per year. “The yearly operating budget for the campus for the first three or four years includes salary and benefits to faculty ($7 million), salary of 100 post-doctoral fellows and stipends for 150 graduate students ($9 million) and seed fund for new faculty ($12.5 million). While salary of 150 supporting staff has been worked out to be $9 million, overheads towards various services and running expense for labs, libraries etc have been estimated at $5 million.

“The proposed campus requires significant amount of funding. We are exploring the possibility of setting up a partnership with a well-established US-based university where the budget will have to be reworked in consultation with the partnering institution,” said Khakhar. Several other factors are being looked at by IIT-Bombay. “Setting up a campus in New York is not an easy proposition. We have to take into consideration several factors like funding, regulatory mechanisms and accreditation issues. Hence, we are looking at the possibility of having a local partner,” said Subhasis Chaudhuri, Dean, International Relations, IIT-Bombay.

The proposal says the focus will be on fundamental research leading to creation of knowledge and publications, technology development initiatives including those leading to patents and transfer of technology through start-ups, licensing or collaborative ventures with industries. The initial aim will be to actively support such initiatives so as to create at least five major initiatives that can attract large quanta of extra-mural funding.

From the given list of site choices for the proposed IITB-NY campus, some of the preferences given by IIT-Bombay include Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital campus; Roosevelt Island, Goldwater campus; and Staten Island, Farm Colony.

Source: The Indian Express, August 10, 2011

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