Thursday, October 13, 2011

MHRD plans Rs. 950 million grant for five IIMs as global ranking trails

The failure of any Indian business school in making it to the world’s top 100 management institutions has jolted the government into action. For starters, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has decided to pump Rs. 95 crore (Rs. 950 million) into the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to increase their research output five-fold.

IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kozhikode, Indore and Lucknow will receive the grant across the next five years. Most of these IIMs produce an average of 15-20 fellows every year. “We want a five-fold increase in the number of fellowships in the next five years and this funding will be used for that purpose. This is for the old IIMs, as the new ones already get a grant from us,” said an MHRD official.

The ministry had stopped such grants almost a decade back as the IIMs were able to sustain themselves. Doing a four-year PhD costs around Rs. 2 million, as per the ministry’s estimates. “The money they were raising from their MBA programmes could not be used for research and hence, this grant is being given for students to do research. The IIMs are able to meet their regular expenses from the MBA fee but for fellowships, we have to step in,” the official added.

The IIMs who have always been sensitive regarding their autonomy, say that government funding their research is not a threat to independence. The government now incurs most of the capital costs incurred by the IIMs and the review committee setup under RC Bhargava had noted: “It must be noted that IIMs account for less than 5% of MBAs produced in India and that this percentage will not change appreciably even after the expansion plans of current IIMs are completed. Clearly, if IIMs have to continue receiving public funds, they need to contribute to improving the quality of management education in India, and themselves become centres of excellence and thought leadership.”

“We have all the freedom and this is not a threat to our autonomy. In fact, this funding is very beneficial as our doctoral students and the fellows we produce go to other institutes to do research,” said Shekhar Chaudhuri, Director, IIM-Calcutta. He added that the new scheme will enable it to double the intake of fellows to 18-20 in the next three years.

Most of the old IIMs conduct a Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) and the output is 15-20 fellows per year. IIM-C’s fellow programme has two phases – a two-year phase is followed by a two-to-three year dissertation phase in which a student writes his doctoral dissertation. The institute provides support to fellowship students in the form of financial aid and research infrastructure.

At IIM Ahmedabad, course work in the first year provides a general management overview and develops basic skills for analysing managerial problems. In the second year, students take advanced doctoral level courses in their areas of specialisation. The doctoral dissertation, for the next couple of years, provides them with an opportunity to make original contribution to an area of management or to one of its source disciplines. At IIM Lucknow, whose FPM began in 2001, all FPM students are provided with a monthly stipend of Rs. 20,000 during the first two years and Rs. 24,000 plus some financial incentives depending on their involvement in academic duties such as teaching and grading during the third and fourth years.

Source: The Financial Express, October 13, 2011

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