Monday, June 24, 2013

B-school student body not diverse enough

While diversity is the buzzword at premier management institutes worldwide, there seems to be little change in the student profile of Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) this year, with engineering graduates still dominating the composition of new batches.

Of the candidates joining IIM-Calcutta this year, 90.4 per cent are from an engineering background. At IIM-Bangalore, this percentage is as high as 91.09 in the 2013-15 batch — up from 88.84 per cent in the previous batch.

Other streams, such as commerce, science, management and the arts have seen only 21, 8, 4 and 2 students respectively in the total batch-size of 404 students at IIM-Bangalore.

While premier management institutes in India have always had a skewed representation of engineers, internationally acclaimed business schools have made a conscious effort to include diverse candidates from various backgrounds.

For instance, Harvard Business School’s 2015 class comprises 43 per cent economics and business undergraduate majors, 39 per cent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics students and 18 per cent students studying humanities and social sciences.

In the 2014 batch of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, 46 per cent of students are from the humanities and social sciences background, 37 per cent from engineering, mathematics and natural sciences and 17 per cent from business, while 18 per cent are advanced degree holders.

Prof M. Jayadev, Chairperson, Admissions and International Aid, IIM-Bangalore, says: “The number of engineers appearing for the CAT (Common Admission Test) entrance is much higher than the non-engineering stream candidates. This, Jayadev said, tends to ensure a higher proportion of engineering students get into the IIMs. Traditionally, IIMs have given higher weightage to CAT, which places greater emphasis on quantitative skills, and not on other sciences. This puts prospective students with a social science background at a disadvantage.

Some years ago, the admission weightages given by IIMs were an internal matter known only to the relevant institutes. But things started changing after the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force. “Before the RTI Act came into existence, most IIMs used to modify the admission process a bit to add diversity to the student profile. At that time, the strength of engineering students was only around 60-65 per cent in the batches. However, with too many questions being asked about the admission process, IIMs do not have the liberty to tweak the admission process,” said the CEO of a leading financial institution and an IIM-A graduate.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, June 24, 2013

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