With a score in the 99.4 percentile in the Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted for entry into select management schools, 24-year-old Mansi Khattar had difficult choices before her. The prestigious brand names of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode, for example.
But she chose the Faculty of Management Studies, or FMS, at Delhi University for the two-year course in business management without a second thought.
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“It was the best choice for me, and on top of my mind from the time I wanted to do an MBA (master’s in business administration). This is where I believe we practise real management skills and not just talk about it,” says Khattar, insisting that FMS in itself is as much of a brand name as the much-coveted IIMs.
The Mint C-fore survey of top business schools shows as much. The school ranks sixth in the top government business schools listing, but got top rankings when it comes to university departments, placement performance and the number of students placed in foreign jobs.
How did this happen?
“We lose out on nothing, get much more than what (the) IIMs have to offer and also benefit from the fact that we are based in the national capital of Delhi—that makes us easily accessible to both the corporate world and the academia,” says Khattar.
But her emphatic assertion and hypothesis apart, the best news of all is that academic excellence at FMS—now 54 years old—even comes cheap for students. It is a bargain financially at a time when management education in India is seeing skyrocketing fee structures. At FMS, an MBA costs about Rs20,000, apart from hostel charges that cost Rs30,000 extra. Compare that with the IIMs, where fees vary from Rs2 lakh to Rs4 lakh for a year.
“Low fees did not help me decide for FMS, but it certainly does come as an additional bonus—apart from the fact that I am now part of one of the best management schools around,” Priyanka Garg, a first-year student at FMS, says.
Chetan Agarwal, also a first-year student, says he let go a call from IIM Indore to join FMS because it offers students the option of dual specialization and choice in minor and major electives—something no IIM offers. “FMS also offers an MBA degree and not a diploma, unlike other management schools,” he adds.
Building blocks: The Faculty of Management Studies in New Delhi is the only university based management school in a Central university.
While dean Jay K. Mitra points out that such fees help the school—the only university-based management school in a Central university—stay socially inclusive, it also makes the degree course the best bet for students’ money.
“It is possible to increase the fees at FMS, but we haven’t done that for a long time as we did not want to make management education in India any more elitist than what it is now. If we increase the fees substantially, it might send wrong signals to (the) hundreds of university-based management education institutions that benchmark their fee structure to FMS Delhi. While the students of FMS will always get a good value education irrespective of the fee structure, one cannot be so certain about all other institutions that are patterned after FMS,” Mitra says.
Apart from funds from the University Grants Commission, FMS raises money from activities such as the admission processing income surplus—that is, income generated from the school’s business processes; for example, sale of forms and admission fees—and consultancy projects that go on to act as an additional resource for supporting the expenses of Delhi University as a whole.
“All Centrally funded institutions are expected to earn revenues of about 5% of the total expenses, while the government provides nearly 95% of the budgeted expenses. FMS generates enough to meet much more than this expectation,” Mitra adds.
The returns from a management degree at FMS, then, are huge. From managing their own placement affairs to assisting faculty in designing curriculum changes through the student academic council, students here pick up management skills from day-to-day interactions with both academia and industry—and each other.
Class apart: From managing their own placement affairs to assisting faculty in designing curriculum changes, students at this business school pick up management skills from day today interactions with both academia and industry—and each other. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint
For example, Khattar, now in her final year, is busy these days not just sorting out her own placement prospects but also those of her classmates as part of the placement cell run entirely by students.
Inside the neatly arranged office of the management science association, the student body of FMS where faculty members and students plan things together, Khattar spends hours every day trying to arrange meetings of students with possible recruiters and mulling over strategies to better job possibilities.
Sriharsha, Khattar’s classmate and a member of the institute’s media relations cell, also run entirely by students, sounds jubilant—which might come as a surprise given that companies are revising hiring plans in the face of a possible economic slump. “This year, placements are going to get better. We are prepared to meet the global slowdown best,” he says.
With this year’s placement figures to boot, Sriharsha, who uses only one name, has every reason to be happy.
For the batch that passed out in 2008, the average salary for the MBA programme shot up by 27% to touch Rs15.31 lakh per annum, up by more than Rs3 lakh in a year’s time. The MBA-MS (management of services) programme also saw an average salary of Rs13.1 lakh per year, up from Rs10.55 lakh per annum last year, an increase of 24%.
“International salaries also touched an all-time high of $105,000 per annum (around Rs45.6 lakh) for the profile of a senior brand manager of a leading retail giant based out of Kuwait. Global slowdown might alter the profile of
companies visiting the campus or nature of jobs but, overall, I don’t foresee too drastic changes in the placement prospects,” says Madhu Vij, placement adviser for the MBA programme at FMS.
Then, of course, there is no compromise on pedagogic excellence.
With a student-teacher ratio of 1:3 and all faculty members being PhD holders, FMS also prepares a stringent entrance test for aspirants. For the 60,000-odd candidates who apply at the institute for various courses in management at the postgraduate and research levels, the selection ratio remains a tough one out of 600 chance.
With a 10,000-strong alumni base and academic partnerships with foreign universities, FMS officials say it stands to gain further. FMS also has big hopes from programmes that offer a variety of innovations in electives such as finance, marketing, financial services and hospitality and transportation, the latest being an MBA in management services. “This is a programme with the concept of parallel specialization. It prepares service-oriented professionals for the market and also bridges the gap between traditional management education and industry requirements,” Mitra says.
FMS is also the leading business school in India with one of the best gender ratios—historically hovering between 20% and 55% girls in a batch. This, despite limitations on the infrastructure front.
“FMS still does not have assured hostel accommodation for all full-time students, particularly girl students, and this is one handicap we hope to overcome with our new campus that is coming up in south Delhi,” Mitra says.
FMS—being part of Delhi University, one of the largest Central universities in India, with more than 150,000 undergraduate students—also shares several university hostels and libraries, which are open to 80-odd constituent colleges. And unlike the IIMs, it does not have a sprawling campus.
But for 21-year-old Raghav Aggarwal, who resisted offers from Mumbai-based SP Jain Institute of Management and Research and the Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur, to join FMS this year, the lack of an integrated campus exposes students to a variety of thoughts and experiences. “We traverse colleges and departments, make friends, join student discussions in any college canteen and are naturally open to alternate views and ideas. Essentially, we are not limited by a campus and among ourselves.”
Large classrooms in the first year, with 100-odd students and no sections, also help students connect better, says Amit Tyagi, a fresher. “We know each other by face and name, and we share a deep bond among ourselves.”
And then there are social responsibility initiatives that help students raise money for non-profits and philanthropy. “We are not just about managing businesses,” Tyagi says. “We are also in the process of bettering ourselves as human beings, perhaps becoming a better manager.”
:Students attend a lecture at the Faculty of Management Studies.
It is possible to increase the fees at the Faculty of Management Studies, but we haven’t done that for a long time as we did not want to make management education in India any more elitist than what it is now.