New Delhi: After seeing a drop in aspirants for their elite management courses the past three seasons, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have a bit to cheer about this year—there’s been a small increase in registrations for their entrance tests.
While some of this can be attributed to an improved summer training season and a recovering economy, a few experts say the adoption of the Common Admission Test (CAT) by other top institutes, including the management departments of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), also weighed in.
“The number of CAT registration was falling for the last few years, but this seems to have changed this time,” said Janakiraman Moorthy, convener of CAT 2011.
The small increase in registrations is a sign that management is still a sought-after career choice, he said.
Registrations for the test improved to 205,000 from about 202,000 who sat for the entrance last year. But that’s still a steep drop from 242,000 candidates in 2009 and 270,000 the year before.
“The good thing is that the number has stabilized now instead of falling, and in future it will consolidate. I believe these days candidates are mature and they take a conscious decision to choose a management career,” said Moorthy, a professor at IIM-Calcutta.
IIM students are top picks every year for leading international and Indian companies, but the courses are expensive and entail rigorous training.
Manek N. Daruvala, founder-director of the TIME chain of coaching centres for CAT aspirants, says students not serious about taking up the courses are staying away from CAT.
“Appearing for CAT is directly linked to the country’s economy and placement. Thus, it’s a return-on-investment kind of decision,” said Daruvala. “Those who are ready to spend Rs 13 lakh for an MBA course will definitely look for a better return through a better job.”
Vinayak Kudva, product head at Mumbai’s IMS chain of test-prep centres, agreed. “After the economic slowdown and poor job scenario in 2008 and 2009, many gave a rethink to management courses and only serious candidates opt for it now.”
He added that CAT got a push this year as other leading business schools have adopted the test to screen students for their courses.
In August, the IITs at Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Roorkee, and the Indian Institute of Science decided to scrap their own joint management entrance test to adopt CAT, Mint reported on 23 August. The six IITs run two-year, full-time postgraduate management programmes with an intake of about 600 students. The 13 IIMs admit around 3,300 students every year.
The Faculty of Management Studies at Delhi University, the Delhi School of Economics, and the Mudra Institute of Communications in Ahmedabad, too, have adopted CAT.
Moorthy of IIM said this may not have contributed significantly to increased registrations. “These are leading B-schools, and anyway CAT aspirants must have been applying for them earlier,” he said.
In-campus placements of IIM students into leading companies in 2010 and an improved pre-placement scenario also helped, said Kudva.
In the 2011 placement season, IIM-Lucknow received 528 offers for a batch of 366. Of the 206 recruiting companies, 53 were first-time recruiters. IIM-Calcutta has already received 45 pre-placement offers for the 2012 batch.
The US-headquartered Prometric Inc. that conducts CAT for the IIMs said it is focusing on the delivery of the exam.
“Our global experience of providing self-service, online registration and scheduling capabilities, coupled with our capacity planning expertise, have allowed us to manage such a large number of registrations,” said Soumitra Roy, managing director, Prometric India.