Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Indian education’s brand image needs to change

Business education in India is often a victim of poor perception outside the country despite the high quality of its students, according to Sharon Bamford, chief executive of the UK-based Association of MBAs, or AMBA, one of the three accrediting bodies globally. Bamford, who was in New Delhi last week, said in an interview that leading Indian business schools need to adopt global rigour, practices and accreditation to improve their image. Edited excerpts:

You are one of the three global accrediting bodies of business education. Where have you marked your presence and what’s your status in India?

We were established in 1967 by MBAs for MBAs. Accreditation is part of our portfolio. We are now in 190 schools around the world. In China, we have 12, in Latin America 29, Moscow alone has eight, France 17. So we have a diverse presence. In India, we now have four schools — MDI (Management Development Institute, in Gurgaon), SP Jain Institute of Management & Research (in Mumbai), and Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow (IIM-L) and IIM-Kozhikode (IIM-K)). Two more are completing their paperwork. We don’t allow B-schools to enter the process unless we think they can complete it.

In a growing economy like India how important is accreditation for B-schools?
Accreditation seems important to the (Indian) government. When we work with a B-school, it’s not just about the school in India, it’s about positioning them globally. There are a number of reasons for international accreditation for business schools. First is quality itself and benchmarking against global standards. Second, it is important for students — they know it’s a quality programme globally benchmarked and audited. We look at the finance of the school, the faculty, their publication, the experience of the students, the learning environment and, of course, the curriculum while evaluating.

More management students from India are in the global marketplace than anywhere else. In India, it could be a fabulous school and well-respected but that branding might not be anything in the global stage. If a student graduates from one of our accredited schools, it means the employer who might not know the school, (will) understand the quality (if it is) in the family of AMBA-accredited schools.

Will this help bring international students to such schools?
Indian schools which have accreditation can attract more foreign students to their classrooms. Many of the top schools have international partnerships anyway. The operating environment is going to be truly international. I have travelled to the accredited institutes (in India), they look so confident. They take up local issues. IIM-Kozhikode has taken spirituality to develop leadership among students. Reverse innovation will help the business education. Exchange of students are now happening more and more, not just for a week but a semester. The next thing will be attracting international students for full programmes.

Do you think management education in India is a victim of perception despite the high calibre of the students?
In terms of understanding the Indian education system, I would know that it is outstanding, the calibre of students is of top rate. For many people outside India, who would not know, they don't understand the institutions, the branding and positioning. Once you have an international accreditation, it helps in articulating that through rigour, order and through compliance. That brand image of Indian education needs to change. I have travelled and know the quality, calibre and vibrancy and growth of India. But a European employer, let’s say, would not know.

Source: Mint, April 10, 2012

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