Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Student visa rules tightened by UK government

From November, it will be even more difficult for Indian students to travel to UK for education. Britain on Tuesday announced a fresh crackdown on student visas as further measures of the Immigration Act came into force. From November, tougher rules will be imposed on universities and colleges who sponsor international students to study in the UK.

Currently, educational institutions can enjoy Highly Trusted Sponsor status if the Home Office rejects 20% or fewer student applications as being invalid. But that figure will be cut to 10% in November after a three-month grace period for colleges and universities to re-examine and improve their admissions procedures. If more than one in 10 applications are being rejected from November onwards, educational institutions could lose their right to bring in new students from overseas. The change will ensure all institutions are playing their part in administering immigration rules to enjoy the benefits of bringing in foreign students.

The numbers of students to all universities coming to the UK from India fell by 38% between 2011 and 2012. It is estimated that the overall value of UK higher education exports to the economy in 2011-12 was around £10 billion. Income from international (non-EU) students generated through their tuition fees in 2012-13 came to £3 billion, which represented around 30% of all tuition fee.

England has recorded a sharp dip in overseas students enrolling in British universities - the first fall in nearly three decades (29 years), thanks to Indians giving it a skip. Data revealed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) shows that the number of Indian students fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012-13. 
London is home to over 105,000 international students from 220 nations. 

Home Secretary Theresa May said "We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants, but tough on those who abuse it or flout the law. The Immigration Act is a landmark piece of legislation that will make Britain a less attractive place for those who come here for the wrong reasons, and will allow us to remove more people when they have no right to remain". May added "We will always act when we see abuse of our immigration system. And that is why we are tightening the rules to cut out abuse in the student visa system".

A recent survey showed that British universities are bending over with scholarships, to attract Indian students into their campuses. The survey of a third of London's universities found that in total an average of Rs. 250 million (£2.5 million) has been awarded to students each year from India and over Rs. 700 million (£7million) over the last three years. The figure could actually be three times higher (over £7 million per year) as just 17 universities in the London University International Partnership (LUIP) took part in the study.

The British Council recently announced the biggest number of scholarships in India ever launched in a year by offering 370 scholarships worth almost £1 million across UK universities. The LUIP Alumni Survey found that 24% and 19% of students in UK hailed from Mumbai and Delhi (NCR), respectively.

The Vice chancellor of Britain's premiere Cambridge University recently warned that Britain's stance on migration is increasingly making Indian students feel unwelcome. Professor Leszek Borysiewicz who has now openly criticized the government's crude numerical targets on immigration warned that "there was an emerging perception, particularly in India, that Britain was not welcoming." According to him, setting a target of 100,000 migrants a year hinders "the true potential benefit that people coming to Britain can actually have".

Source: The Times of India, July 30, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Indian students' enrolment in German universities up more than 100% in 5 years

For increasing number of Indians, Germany is emerging a favoured higher education destination overseas. There has been 114% increase in the number of Indian students enrolling for higher education courses there since 2008, according to the latest figures released by the regional office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

The number of students enrolled has increased from 3,516 in the 2008-09 academic year to 7,532 in 2012-13. US, UK, Australia and Canada have been the most favoured destinations for Indian students, partly due to the absence of a language barrier. But Germany, which has the fifth biggest Indian student population on campuses, has sought to bridge the gap by introducing courses in English and easing visa norms to allow students to look for jobs there after completion of studies.

Engineering courses were the chosen area of study for nearly half the number (close to 48%), followed by mathematics and natural sciences (19.8%). Information technology (13.8%), and law, economics and social sciences (9.4%) are the other courses sought after by Indian students in Germany.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Franziska Lindhout, Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Chennai, said Germany encourages Indian students to sign up for masters and research in engineering as not many natives show an interest in the discipline. "It's least taken up by those in Germany, and the country needs students in these areas, so Germany is interested in cooperation with Indian technical higher educational institutions," she said.

Lindhout said efforts were being made to internationalise German institutions. "It's no longer a prerequisite to learn German to study there. We invite Indian students to pick up the language to help them adapt better and for jobs, But it is not required to pursue a masters or for the visa procedure. It is part of the internationalization process, and DAAD has been pushing for it," she said.

Germany has also made a conscious effort to woo Indian students by sponsoring initiatives aimed at enabling Indian students to study, carry out research and gain work experience in that country. Since 2009, 46 new co-operation projects have been forged between Indian and German universities. Working and research internships and scholarships are part of the effort. Changes in visa rules to allow Indian students more time to look for employment has also helped increase the number of Indian students headed to Germany. Indians comprise the second largest international student population in Germany, second only to China.

There are not as many undergraduate students from India as those who opt for masters or doctoral degrees in Germany. "There are few English-medium UG courses to choose from in Germany and the school finals in India are not equivalent to that offered in Germany. But, now there are many masters programmes offered in English," said Padmavathi Chandramouli, Information Manager of DAAD centre in Chennai.

As many as 1,324 Indian students and 761 German students have been part of the DAAD exchange programme. Co-operation agreements have been signed between German institutions and the IITs, IIMs, the Department of Science and Technology, and the University Grants Commission. While the country does not offer any scholarships for masters' degrees, its research grants for doctoral programmes in Germany and the bi-nationally supervised doctoral degrees are well known.

Source: The Times of India, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

IIMC, SRFTI and FTII to get national tag

In a move that is likely to give a boost to international collaborations and funding, three premier institutes — Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) — will be awarded status of institute of national importance and the power to award degrees.

The proposals mooted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) will give greater autonomy to the institutes is likely to come before the Union Cabinet soon. This will put the institutes in the league of IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences).

Sources said the cabinet notes for SRFTI and FTII had been cleared by the law ministry while the one for IIMC was in the final stages. The proposals were announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Union budget on July 10. Sources said that the three institutes are reputed organizations in the media education sector but could only grant diplomas.

"Our institutes are already well known across the country and the world. With this decision, we will be able to increase international collaborations, award degrees, improve infrastructure and funding for research,'' one source said.

Plans are also afoot to introduce advanced academic programmes in the institute such as MA, MPhil and PhD in IIMC. IIMC is headquartered in Delhi and has five regional centres in Aizawl (Mizoram), Amravati (Maharashtra), Dhenkanal (Odisha), Jammu & Kashmir and Kottyam (Kerala).

The decision is likely to give a significant thrust to film education in the country with both noted institutes being made institutes of national importance. The proposals have been pending for several years now under the UPA regime but sources said the approvals are now likely to come soon. Once approved, the three proposals will require parliamentary sanction.

Source: The Times of India, July 23, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taiwanese scholarships for Indian students

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre (TECC) in India organised an orientation programme for the Taiwan Scholarship and Huayu Enrichment Scholarship awardees, in Delhi on July 15. Eight students have won the Taiwan Scholarship, five for PhD and three for Master's, in civil engineering, Asia-Pacific studies, mechanical engineering, international communication studies, science and technology, management, energy and optoelectronic material science, and electrical engineering. Twelve bagged the Huayu Enrichment Scholarships for six-month advanced courses in Mandarin. 

The maximum period of each scholarship is two years for Master's and four years for doctorate programmes. The maximum duration of the awards for each recipient undertaking a combination of studies is five years.

The Taiwan scholarship comprises tuition and a subsistence allowance. As regards the tuition part, it awards each scholar up to 40,000 new Taiwan dollars (approximately US$ 1,330) per semester. Tuition and academic fees do not include administration fees, thesis advising fees, insurance premiums, accommodation, and internet access. As for the subsistence allowance, the education ministry offers a monthly stipend of NTD15,000 (approximately US$ 500) to each undergraduate awardee; and NTD20,000 (approximately US$ 660) to each postgraduate recipient.

The Taiwan Embassy (TECC in India), on behalf of the Ministry of Education of the Taiwan government, announces the scholarship guidelines every January, select the candidates by reviewing application and through interviews. It declares the results at the end of May.

"It is an official policy of the Taiwan government to increase the size of the foreign student body, India being one of the priority countries," says Tien Chung Kwang, ambassador, who heads TECC in India. The Foundation for International Co-operation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2010.

Source: The Times of India, July 21, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Law without teeth leaves medical colleges free to collect capitation fee

The history of medical education in Tamil Nadu is 160 years old, and private medical colleges have been in existence for several decades. The state legislation banning collection of capitation fee for courses came into being more than 22 years ago. During this period not a single person or institution offering MBBS/BDS courses has been found guilty of collecting capitation fee or donation from parents.

"Our hands are tied by invisible forces, ably assisted by top lawyers. Once stayed, the case remains stuck for years, with the statutory bodies showing least interest in getting the interim restraint orders vacated. A vicious circle of poor laws, poorer enforcement and worst prosecution, further compounded by casual interference by higher judicial forums, have allowed the rot in medical education to develop deep roots," a subordinate judicial officer who handled a capitation fee case told TOI.

Till 2009 — perhaps due to absence of strong complaints or lack of evidence — no enforcement agency or court could lay a hand on people or prosecute them for the scourge. In June 2009, a joint sting operation conducted by news channel Times Now and The Times of India yielded by far the strongest evidence to prove that the capitation fee menace had grown in size and that college authorities were quoting between Rs. 2 million and Rs. 4 million for an MBBS seat. Following public and political outrage, CBI took up the matter. But now, Madras high court has quashed the proceedings against a private university official saying he was not a public servant to stand trial under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"Now we are back to square one. The state maintains its 'clean' record — there are no official acts of donation demands, and so far no one has been found guilty and punished for the offence," said a law officer who is worried about the fate of three other cases pending in the high court. Asked about the Tamil Nadu Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Collection of Capitation Fee) Act, 1992, for which rules have not yet been framed, a former advocate-general of Tamil Nadu said one need not wait for the new law to take effect to act against offenders. "There are Supreme Court judgments, especially the Pai Foundation case, and a host of statutory bodies empowered to initiate penal proceedings against donation-demanding institutions," he said.

"But coming across a strong complaint is a problem. Thanks to the skewed demand-supply scenario in medical education, with the latter outstripping the former, parents are happy to get seats for a 'reasonable' donation," said advocate Dr M Anthony Selavaraj of Masum Associates. The proposed Act sounds pretty tough, he said, pointing out that as per the 1992 legislation, "whoever contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rule made thereunder shall, on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years and with fine which may extend to Rs. 5,000."

It was because there are no specific rules prohibiting the practice or prescribing the mode of prosecution that the CBI perhaps stopped with invoking the Prevention of Corruption Act provisions against the private university officials caught on tape in 2009, said a prosecutor, adding, "besides the general penal code, there is a special Act and statutory provisions governing statutory bodies such as the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the University Grants Commission (UGC), to be invoked against offenders. As such only a negligible number of cases are registered. When even they are quashed or stayed by judicial forums, it frustrates serious enforcers and prosecutors," said a judicial officer said, adding that he was unable to proceed further, as the high court has stayed it.

Source: The Times of India, July 17, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

High-5 for education: New IITs, IIMs on paper

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley deftly straddled the two worlds of higher and school education while addressing two basic requirements of education — access and quality. The flagship Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan continues to be the cynosure of the new government with increased allocation of Rs. 286.35 billion while the FM announced setting up of five new IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management). The budget allocation to education has been increased by 12% to Rs. 837.71 billion.

The new IITs will come up in Jammu, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The five new IIMs will be in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. It's part of the Modi government's larger plan to have IIT/IIM in each state.

However, allocation of Rs. 5 billion for new IITs/IIMs shows a mismatch between intention and action. Setting up one IIT costs Rs. 17.5 billion and an IIM nearly Rs. 10 billion. While IIT-Roorkee Director Pradipto Banerjee thinks new IITs will correct the historical wrong, the new government should also address the problems of eight IITs that were set up during the UPA regime. From bad infrastructure to more than 40% vacancy in teaching faculty, the new institutes are yet to stand on their feet. While democratization of IITs/IIMs is a laudable idea, the fear of dilution of quality is also not misplaced. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), as one official says, needs to start new institutions in 'mission mode' with inflexible deadlines.

Madan Mohan Malaviya Teachers' Training Programme with an allocation of Rs. 5 billion comes as a good initiative to bolster quality of school education. Scores of studies have found lack of quality teachers as the biggest hindrance to school education. The new initiative should help states sort out the recruitment mess and create a uniform standard throughout the country. The move to take information technology to children through virtual classrooms will increase access.

Source: The Times of India, July 11, 2014

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

British universities bending over with scholarships to attract Indian students

British universities are bending over with scholarships, to attract Indian students into their campuses. A first of its kind survey of a third of London's universities has found that in total an average of Rs. 250 million (£2.5 million) has been awarded to students each year from India and over Rs. 700 million (£7 million) over the last three years. The figure could actually be three times higher (over £7 million per year) as just 17 universities in the London University International Partnership (LUIP) took part in the study.

Lord Swraj Paul, Chancellor of the University of Westminster and a leading NRI in UK said, "London is one of the best cities in the world to study. London and India have great cultural and business ties and it is testament to the strength of the relationship that London universities offer so many scholarships to students from India. A London education can be a great investment in a young person's future and I believe it really enhances the chances of succeeding in your career".

Kevin McCarthy, Head of, said "London is the most diverse city in the world and its international student body is no exception. London is home to over 105,000 international students from 220 nations. Students studying in London not only replicate London's diversity but also contribute hugely to the city's vibrancy".

Jennifer Parsons, Chair of LUIP India, said "Studying in London is an investment and not just in terms of money. As businesses become more and more international, a combination of high quality teaching and critical thinking skills helps set London students apart, making them very marketable in a global market". The British Council recently announced the biggest number of scholarships in India ever launched in a year by offering 370 scholarships worth almost £1 million across UK universities.

The LUIP Alumni Survey found that 24% and 19% of students in UK hailed from Mumbai and Delhi (NCR), respectively. Survey respondents came from a range of academic disciplines. Of those surveyed, 31% studied business, 26% studied science, technology, engineering & Math (STEM), 19% studied Arts & Humanities, 17% studied Social Sciences, and 6% studied Health & Medicine.

The Vice chancellor of Britain's premiere Cambridge University recently warned that Britain's stance on migration is increasingly making Indian students feel unwelcome. Professor Leszek Borysiewicz who has now openly criticized the government's crude numerical targets on immigration warned that "there was an emerging perception, particularly in India, that Britain was not welcoming". According to him, setting a target of 100,000 migrants a year hinders "the true potential benefit that people coming to Britain can actually have". 

The numbers of students to all universities coming to the UK from India fell by 38% between 2011 and 2012. It is estimated that the overall value of UK higher education exports to the economy in 2011-12 was around £10 billion. Income from international (non-EU) students generated through their tuition fees in 2012-13 came to £3 billion, which represented around 30% of all tuition fee.

England has recorded a sharp dip in overseas students enrolling in British universities - the first fall in nearly three decades (29 years), thanks to Indians giving it a skip. Data revealed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) shows that the number of Indian students fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 13,250 in 2011-12 and further to 10,235 in 2012-13.

Source: The Times of India, July 9, 2014

Sunday, July 06, 2014

MBA degree losing its sheen? Management education in India faces sharpest crisis of confidence

Two years after graduating with a master's in business administration (MBA) from GLA University, affiliated to the UP Technical University in Noida, Isha Singh, 25, discovered how difficult life can be in the real world. While she specialized in HR and marketing, the best role she could find herself was as an HR executive in a small firm in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Under pressure from her parents, she also studied for entrance exams for government jobs during her year-long stint, before quitting to further add to her academic qualifications and in the hope of a better job.

While Singh spent nearly a year in the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi, her move has yielded few results. "I thought this was a good additional qualification, but I am yet to get a job even though I have been interviewed by at least six companies," she says. "I'm confused and clueless on the way forward." AK Verma, Dean, Placements, GLA University, declined to answer queries on the issue, both on the phone and by email.

Singh's quandary is hardly new across India. As young executives queue up to apply to apply for business schools, they are faced with increasingly gloomy prospects. While companies may use the MBA as a basic filter, they are getting increasingly picky with their hires. The management education sector is being roiled by a massive oversupply of talent, coupled with shrinking demand from companies.

Thousands of executives who flocked to colleges over the past six or seven years to bolster their CVs are now facing tough prospects. While those from obscure colleges are struggling for jobs, further up the pecking order graduates in the past couple of years are having to struggle for their preferred role (say, marketing); and, in the top tier too, the gulf between expectation and reality has only widened. The halo attached to the MBA has sharply faded.

From Worker to Leader 

According to estimates from Elements Akademia, a pan-India chain of institutes that focuses on making youth employable, barely a fifth of the students at these lesser colleges get placed. While sectors such as information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITeS) may be generating thousands of jobs, the students graduating from these colleges aren't up to speed on many skillsets demanded by employers and remain unhireable.

Another factor, specific to India, is the nature of students who opt for management programmes. In developed markets, most MBA candidates have five or more years of experience before they apply. What's more the pool of MBA applicants is more diverse --- more people from liberal arts, science and other fields.

In India, curiously, engineers dominate, since it's seen as a quick way to a fancier job and heftier designation. However, when the placement season yields few lucrative offers, students opt for whatever they can lay their hands on. "I was a fresher and I was a non-engineer," says Arul John, a graduate from a B-school in Bangalore, who settled on a job with an out-of-home solutions firm, when faced with few offers.

In the past six or seven years, MBA institutes have been in a rush to tap the burgeoning demand from executives keen to upgrade their skills. Much of this demand has been driven by engineers keen to grow from being grunt workers to team leaders and managers. And, the belief has been that once they return to work, a fatter pay cheque and greater responsibilities await them.

A muted economy and oversupply of management graduates have put paid to many of those dreams. In a hurry to establish their institutes, promoters have paid scant attention to building pedagogy, hiring strong faculty and attracting top companies to hire their talent. "I am of the firm opinion that bad schools must be shut down. Fly-by-night business schools shouldn't be allowed to take students for a ride," says Devanath Tirupati, Dean (Academic) and Director In-charge, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B). Students from these institutes would agree.

"We had a class of about 400 students and no more than 100 got placed," says Rahul Roy, 25, a graduate of Aurora PG College in Hyderabad. Unlike top-tier institutes such as the IIMs or the Indian School of Business (ISB), students like Roy had to fend for themselves, relying on their own contacts and persistence to get hired. Roy was lucky; he managed to get a job in a small digital marketing agency, but is bitter about how his MBA was sold to him. "The college spoke of some large companies visiting the college, but few of them actually turned up and fewer yet hired anyone," he says.

According to Narasimha Rao, Deputy Director, Placements, Aurora Group, some 60 companies visited the MBA campuses this year and placement has been sharper than previously. He also blamed "the poor attitude of students" for news of underwhelming placements and said the group was building strong ties with industry to place more students. 

Structural Problems 
Students at the lesser-known B-schools are quick to accuse their institutes of poor placement and under-investing in their faculty and infrastructure. Setting up a business school is a time-consuming and expensive process, say experts, and those institutes set up as get-rich-quick method for promoters will wither away. Bala Balachandran, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management in the US and founder of the Great Lakes Institute of Management in India, has a dire warning for the B-school industry here.

He says that there's a structural problem with management schools, which makes them unattractive to everyone involved. A poor school with weak placements won't attract a strong crop of fresh applicants. In turn, if there are no high potential students for faculty to polish, they won't be interested in their job, which in turn will result in poorly trained students with few job offers. The vicious cycle will only perpetuate in this difficult environment. Balachandran says B-schools too will suffer the same fate as engineering institutes did, which first mushroomed and then shrank. "Only some 200 business schools have closed in India; soon it will be 1,000 out of the current 3,000 or even more," predicts the professor.

The foundations are certainly being rattled. According to a recent research note by Crisil, a research and advisory firm, some 176 B-schools shut between 2012-13 and 2013-14. In a report titled "MBA dream withering away", published in May 2014, it notes that the number of business schools increased from 3,000 in 2009-10 to 4,500 in 2012-13.

However, the interest in B-schools has dimmed recently, the report adds, with average occupancy rate at 68-70%. "There are fewer takers for MBA programmes, especially in tier-III and tier-IV B-schools...several institutes have had to shut shop," the report led by Ajay Srinivasan, Director, Research, Crisil, notes. A graduate of Acharya Institute of Management in Bangalore, Divya Prabhu, 24, exemplifies the growing distrust accorded to management institutes. She wanted to focus on a career in marketing research, but the best her college could offer her was a sales job in a small pharma firm. An electronics and electrical engineer, she instead went job-hunting on her own and, a few months down the line, managed to bag a job in an advertising firm in Bangalore. “The real world we experience is far from the rosy picture painted to you when you plan to do an MBA,“ she contends. 

No Fat Cheques 
The numbers don't lie. According to data from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the number of institutes affiliated to it went up from 2,614 in 2006-07 to 3,364 in 2013-14. Simultaneously, the number of students went up from 247,201 to 364,421 in the same time-frame. Despite this rapid increase, the interest in doing an MBA course seems to be on the wane, if tests for CAT applicants and takers are considered. That number has dropped nearly 20% and over 24% respectively between 2009 and 2013.

The return on investment in an MBA is also suspect. According to the Crisil study, the aver age salary during placements in 40% of B-schools is less than Rs. 300,000 per annum. Only 1% of the 4,500 odd institutes assures B-school graduates of making money; and only if you study in a tier I college can you expect an average annual salary of Rs. 900,000 or more. The cost of an MBA degree averages Rs. 800,000-plus at a premier institute and Rs. 200,000-400,000 at a non tier-I B-school.

Top colleges seem to be doing well for now. In placements for the class graduating in 2014 at IIM-Bangalore, students saw an average salary of Rs. 1.95 million, with all students placed in just four days. While the top offer exceeded $100,000, some 428 offers were made during the placement process.

"The demand for good management graduates will always be there especially in a growing economy like India," argues Tirupati. "At IIM-B, our programme --- the postgraduate programme in management (PGP) --- is of top quality; our pool of aspirants is large and global, and we strive to maintain our standards, so no worries there. Having said that, we do not rest on our reputation or laurels; there is a constant effort to maintain excellence in research and teaching."

That, however, is cold comfort for hundreds of thousands of management students and graduates who aren't lucky or good enough to study at the IIMs. Over 2,600 students study at the 11 IIMs nationwide, but for the hundreds of thousands more across management institutes elsewhere, prospects have only got dimmer.

Ajay Bhatkal, a veteran executive who advises B-schools on improving placements and curriculum, lays the blame squarely on students. "They opt for an MBA with the perception that they will be managers with a top bank or consultancy with multiple clients and large teams," he says. "Instead, they often end up working in a drudge role for a small company and rue signing up for such a programme." Most colleges he advises struggle with placements, he admits. 
With perhaps just one in 15 students recruited by a large firm this only diminishes the rapidly fading halo around MBA courses further.

Need for Change 
"Rather than a degree to beef up your management skills, in India an MBA is considered a quick way to get a promotion from your current role, or worse, a quick escape hatch from your job," Bhatkal says. Having studied in management schools in India and Europe, he says, the difference couldn't be more stark. European institutes have a broader blend of academics, their students are older and more mature and more aware of the potential and pitfalls of such programmes.

ISB Dean Ajit Rangnekar stoutly defends the need for management graduates but admits that there may need to be a sharp correction in student intake for the programme to stay relevant. "Currently, the intake is over 200,000 annually, but I think there will be a correction and the ideal number of graduates should be no more than 50,000-60,000 in India," he says. ISB, Rangnekar says, has benefitted from having a strong faculty and curriculum ---its placements have stayed steady, despite intake doubling from 400 to 800 between 2005-06 and 2013-14. "Every Tom, Dick and Harry thought that spending two years in some sort of business school was a passport to riches --- this is nonsense. With a 20% increase in intake and 5% growth in the economy, there is a painful correction underway," he adds.

Experts think that even though the halo around MBA programmes --- and the people who take them --- has faded, companies in general will continue to need managers for many roles. However, what has changed is the type of manager companies want, and most colleges are unable to make this adjustment, says Narayanan Ramaswamy, head of education at KPMG India.

"Managers can't afford to manage from ivory towers anymore...the world has changed rapidly," he says. "B-schools need to think of the future when they design is still taught using age-old concepts...a marketer is rarely exposed to the nuances of emerging areas such as social media. Colleges need to make their students future ready.“

For wannabe managers, a part of that future may be away from the classroom, with MOOC or massive open online courses gaining currency. KPMG's Ramaswamy says that the traditional MBA --- and managers who emerge from it --- may be under fire from nimbler executives who can multi-task a day job and an MOOC management programme.

Survival of the Best 

Even as the institutes deal with this pain, management graduates themselves are wondering if it's all worth it. Three years ago Nishant Sharma, 29, graduated from IMT, Nagpur with plans to get a marketing job for himself. However, since then he has changed three jobs, cycled through roles in media, in a psychometric testing firm, before moving to Mumbai and clinching a job in the supply chain function with a small hosiery design firm.

"Everyone tells you it is hunky dory in college, but a more harsh reality awaits you once you graduate," says Sharma. An electrical and electronics engineer, he says he has rarely used the heaps of theory he's logged through in class, at work. "The MBA is an overrated degree...I think more people will lose interest in it."

According to Rajiv Krishnan, partner and India leader, People and Organization, Ernst & Young India, the business school market is seeing a consolidation similar to those seen in the markets for business process outsourcing, when a gold rush to tap a potentially massive opportunity melted down once the pretenders faded. Similarly, he thinks that building an education brand, especially in management, will take two or three decades of toil. "You can't use traditional concepts such as break-even to measure the success of a B-school...this will come over time, once they have built this brand,“ Krishnan says. In the interim, B-schools face a bruising battle for existence, as applicants and faculty vote with their feet, pushing the weaker schools out of business.

Vishal Pandit, 30, faced the problems of doing his MBA a tad too early and of finding a job with a start-up, specifically in education. A graduate of MDI, the electronics engineer even added a degree from Europe in the quest for his dream job. While the MDI course was in international management and gave him plenty of exposure to global companies, Pandit had to work hard to find opportunities in his chosen space. He took the long route, opting to help a friend run a soya-processing unit, worked with a sports goods multinational, and only then found his way to Function Space, his current employer, which is a social learning network for science. Having studied in management schools in India and Europe, he says, the difference couldn't be more stark. European institutes have a broader blend of academics, their students are older and more mature and more aware of the potential and pitfalls of such programme.

At the Crossroads 

For young executives looking to take their next step in their careers, this turmoil can be unsettling. With four years of experience in communications, 25-year old Priyanka Tadipatri thought it was time to upgrade her skills. A management postgraduate degree seemed a logical choice -recruiters for management jobs she coveted wanted to see an MBA on her CV and companies used it as a basic filtering tool to weed out applicants. However, in the past few weeks, Tadipatri isn't so sure an MBA is the way to go; she's struggled to find a programme which will give her the required push into meatier marketing jobs she seeks and as the aura around MBA graduates has faded her resolve has dissipated. Instead, she has now decided to do shorter marketing courses to further her career prospects.

As companies mop up the last few hireable graduates, management education in India will now need to deal with its sharpest crisis of confidence --- or risk becoming irrelevant in a fast-changing world.

Source: The Economic Times, July 6, 2014

Seat in IIT? No thanks, say some students

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are the country's premier technical schools, the only ones to make it to the top 300 in global university rankings and the No. 1 destination for engineering aspirants. Well, maybe not for all. Students are now declining seats in what was once India's holy grail of engineering education.

"At the end of the first phase of counselling, of the 9,711 seats made available this year, only 9,061 have been filled," JEE (Advanced) 2014 organizing chairman M K Panigrahi said. "But the situation is better than last year." He said seats could be vacant because some students who qualified in the JEE (Advanced) may not have high enough marks in the Class 12 boards to make it to the top 20 percentile as required for admission to the IITs. Others may be set on a particular course and would rather give up a seat in one of the IITs than opt for a stream they don't want to pursue, Panigrahi said.

But a fact that IIT faculty members admit to off the record is that the top five IITs - Delhi, Mumbai, Madras, Kanpur and Kharagpur - are still in demand but the 11 campuses established more recently, like Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Ropar, in Rupnagar, Punjab, for instance, do not have quite the same appeal. "Not many students are enamoured by the new IITs," a senior professor at IIT-Madras said.

The IITs this year extended the deadline for seat acceptance by a day. Admission officials advised candidates allocated seats in the first round of counselling to accept the seats and pay the provisional admission fee on Friday, but gave them a day to make up their mind. But Panigrahi said "the peak period" ended on Thursday, indicating that not too many students are likely to change their mind on Friday.

Several seats were not filled in previous years when the IITs conducted only one round of counselling, so the institutes in 2013 started to conduct three rounds of counselling. Still, at the end of the third round, students left more than 200 seats vacant.

Faculty members discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that some candidates who made it through the tough competitive test could not make it to the IITs because they did not fill enough choices during the counselling process. The institutions then decided to make it mandatory for students to select at least 50 choices whether or not the candidate should choose to take those streams. However, this does not seem to have worked either.

A senior IIT faculty member, who declined to be named, said even if the students mark all the choices required, most of them are clear about what they want to study. "They feel that some of the streams offered by the IITs are not promising. So, they prefer to join self-financing institutions or the NITs and take the course of their choice," he said.

Source: The Times of India, July 6, 2014

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

In a first, Indian-origin scholar becomes dean of top US law school

Indian-origin academics head a raft of engineering, math, science, and business schools in the United States. But for a country with a long-standing and deep-rooted tradition in law and jurisprudence — almost the entire team of India's founding fathers consisted of legal eagles — the dean-ship of a US law school has eluded them. That will be corrected substantially on Tuesday when Sujit Choudhry, a highly-regarded constitutional scholar, will take charge of the University of California (UC) Berkeley's Boalt Hall, one of the top law schools in America.

Choudhry, who is just 44, moves to California from New York University (NYU), where he founded, and helmed, the Center for Constitutional Transitions. The New Delhi-born academic has received rave reviews for his scholarship in the area, including for work in the sub-continent (he is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Indian Constitutional Law with Pratap Bhanu Mehta), and he had no trouble making it to the top of the short list to head UC Berkeley Law School, whose alumni include former Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Silicon Valley legal eagle Larry Sonsini, among others.

Law is not among the favored subject of Indian students in the United States that has brought some 100,000 collegiates stateside. According to the Open Doors report that monitors foreign student inflow to the US, some 75 per cent of students from India go into engineering, math, and science streams, and close to 15 per cent study at business schools. The report does not tabulate law school entrants, but social sciences and humanities account for less than 5 per cent.

Anecdotal reports suggest that is starting to change, particularly among Indian-Americans, and Choudhry concurs. "When I went to law school 20 years ago there weren't many Indian kids growing up in North America who considered law," he recalled in an interview with The Times of India. "The way in which legal education had been viewed relative to other opportunities at home (in India) had kind of carried over to North America."

In part, there were historical reasons for Indian students not looking to US for law studies. "If you look at Indian legal elite, Oxbridge and London were the central points of reference from the 1930s to 1980s," says Choudhry. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Jinnah and others trooped to the UK to burnish their legal credentials, and only Ambedkar among the Founding Fathers came to the US (to New York's Columbia University).

Choudhry maintains it is very different now, and top law schools in America are "full of Indians, whether they are from India or Indian kids who have grown up here." The perceived value of legal education has changed since liberalization, he says, and India has turned increasingly towards American institutions of higher education, because "work here is more interdisciplinary and increasingly global in its orientation."

Even more so in culturally and ethnically diverse California and Bay Area (where UC Berkeley Law goes head-to-head against Stanford Law School), which Choudhry says, is what drew him to the West Coast (in addition to the small matter of having an extensive family network there). "Great law schools of the 21st century will be a global crossroads for people and ideas from around the world," says Choudhry. "Legal issues are not confined to single jurisdictions now. They may have state, federal, foreign, international and transnational dimensions."

It's a line of thinking that appealed to New Delhi law professional Geetanjani Bhushan almost a decade back when she decided to come to the prestigious Georgetown University Law Center to earn an LLM degree with specialization in corporate transactions and negotiations. "I didn't just bounce out of bed with the idea of flying off to the US. I was motivated to undertake the rigorous (and costly) endeavor to study in a top American law school after being a practicing attorney for six years in New Delhi," she recalls. In course of a bruising program, she says she got the kind of exposure in the US she "would not trade for anything."

Given the number of international legal wrangles India is coming up against, from water disputes to intellectual property rights' spats to tax rows with MNCs, it will be no surprise if there are many more Indian students thinking along the same lines. Choudhry's Berkeley Law and other law schools may yet see more Indian students in the coming years.

Source: The Times of India, July 1, 2014

Washington University partners IIT-Bombay for e-MBA degree

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have jointly launched a combined US-India joint executive MBA degree programme. The new programme, which will confer a joint MBA degree, will be modelled after WUSTL's executive MBA in China and the US.

"This is our first joint degree programme that we have in Washington University and conveys our commitment to partnership and confidence in IIT-Bombay," Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University told ET in an exclusive interaction. "We expect enrollment from companies that are based outside India and the ones that are based in India. That development of network of business professionals will be valuable for those who enroll," he said.

"Back home in the US, I have spoken to a lot of companies that have operations in India and I have had the chance to speak to the CEOs of three important St. Louis-headquartered companies, including Emerson, which has 10,000 employees or more in India, Monsanto and Sigma Aldrich and each of those companies has committed to having one or two employees in their first cohort of students in this joint e-MBA programme," said Wrighton. The partnership will also enable IIT-Bombay to connect with a large number of businesses in many sectors, other than technology, and complement their ongoing activities of industry academia linkages.

"At IIT-Bombay, we see this as a great interface to industry. We already have strong connections with the industry on the technology side; this way we will get an opportunity to connect on the business side, too," said Devang V. Khakhar, Director, IIT-Bombay. Classes will be held in the IIT-Bombay campus and taught by faculty from WUSTL's Olin Business School and IIT-Bombay's Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management (SJMSOM).

The programme will be of 18-month duration and classes will be offered four days a month. It will end with a two-week exposure at the Washington University. The first session of the programme will commence from early 2015. The tuition fees will be $55,000-$60,000, which is 50% less than its current cost in the US.

"The curriculum will draw upon the expertise of not just the two business schools but also of IIT-Bombay and Washington University," said Mahendra Gupta, the Indian origin dean of WUSTL's Olin Business School. "There are two countries that are going to have a major economic impact on the world, in addition to the existing leaders in the western hemisphere, that is China and India," Gupta said.

The programme is meant for professionals with at least seven years of experience. "Our executives will be representing all sectors including women in such a way that we will be able to open the door not only for corporate leaders but also in the fields of social entrepreneurship, CSR, policy perspectives, government leaders, bureaucrats, and NGOs," said S. Bhargava, head of SJMSOM.

Source: The Economic Times, July 1, 2014

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