Industry and academia are up in arms against the government’s carrot-and-stick strategy of luring the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) with the promise of giving them the power to award degrees if they allow a pan-IIM council to monitor all the 13 IIMs and submit reports to the ministry of human resource development, ostensibly with a view to reforming higher education.
Many industry captains, most of whom have studied at IIMs, and the institute faculty argue that the idea of creating a pan-IIM council—which was rejected even when it was first mooted four years ago by the R.C. Bhargava committee—will rob them of their autonomy.
Older IIMs, each of which has a unique tradition, have boards to govern them. An overarching IIM council will only create an additional layer and undermine the board’s powers and prove counter-productive. It’s not that the IIMs are beyond reproach. There’s a danger of them degenerating into profit-making organizations if they keep on raising tuition fees to retain their financial autonomy. On the flip side, they do offer scholarships to poor students.
There’s also the concern that the IIM faculty spend a lot more time on management and executive development programmes at the cost of compromising teaching hours for the postgraduate programmes or doing research work that can enhance the reputation of the institutions. Besides, there’s always the concern that management courses are not tweaked sufficiently to keep pace with industry trends.
The concerns deepen when one sees the rankings of these premier institutions slip. The Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB) and IIM-Ahmedabad slipped again in the Global Top MBA Rankings 2013 of the Financial Times , London. ISB slipped 14 notches to rank 34 while IIM-A slipped 15 places to rank 26 this year. Regardless of these concerns, it is not clear how the IIM brand stands to gain if institutes get permission to grant MBA and PhD degrees instead of diplomas and fellowships, other than figuring in more rankings because of a university status. Besides, even if the government prevails and creates a pan-IIM council, it will only introduce a unicameral approach as opposed to a decentralized one that has helped IIMs become one of the world’s best management institutes.
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