Home / Education / News /  ISB keen to be a major growing university: Ajit Rangnekar

New Delhi: Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, is eager to become a university and expand its offering beyond business education, if the government comes out with enabling legislation.

ISB dean Ajit Rangnekarsaid that restrictive regulations must go, allowing institutions freedom to decide how many students they want. Edited excerpts from an interview:

ISB is increasing alumni engagement. How will you do it?

The brand of any institution is ultimately made by alumni success. You need outstanding faculty to train these students, but the real brand in public perception is created by the alumni.

The fact that we have come new to this marketplace, if we allow the typical way in which alumni success happens over 20-30 years, then we will have to wait for that.

Educational institutions in general do not think correctly when they think of their students. It’s like producing a Mercedes, BMW, or a Ferrari and then not worrying about serving it for the next 40 years. I am a strong believer in alumni lifelong learning. That will ultimately build the ISB brand. Harvard is successful because of the strong involvement of the alumni—it’s the same thing. We see it in the 3Ws: contribute to their work, contribute to their wisdom and contribute to their wealth.

Our alumni play a major role in our admission process, reaching out to students.

They participate in interviews, coach students who have got acceptance. Because we are a one-year school, so throughout the year we involve alumni in talking to the students.

Under the category of wisdom we do curriculum review. We ask them what works and what does not work in the industry. Last year, we did a complete relook at our curriculum. Since we are already 10 years’ old now we want to look what we can do for the next 10 years. Under the third part, wealth, it is working extremely well. This part has come without us actually asking for it. Over the last few years, alumni have given around 35 million ( 3.5 crore), which is pretty substantial for a young school. Students, while graduating, give a gift, after fifth year they give a gift and at the 10th year they may give a gift. Some help in our entrepreneurship activity.

What’s the next step?

We want to be the best in Asia by the turn of this decade. And hopefully in the top 10 in the world among global B-schools. The second aspect is not an official ISB plan, but frankly, if the government comes out with enabling legislation which allows newer universities to be formed, then ISB would be very, very keen to be a major growing university going beyond business school.

The previous government had come out with some really good proposals and legislation that it never really got through. Let’s say the innovation university legislation—that was a very good piece of thinking but never got through. The second part is, if legislative change happens, we would be very keen to expand beyond business school.

What changes are you looking at?

Until educational institutions’ freedom is similar to what we gave industry in the 1990s—education is still ridiculously over-regulated and regulated like the permit raj era.

We very strongly believe in good regulations. If we have good regulations, we will be the first to become part of it. You have to give credit to the previous government—they did come out with some good legislation but nothing happened unfortunately.

We hope that the government recognizes the importance of education. Just give people the freedom and set regulations which allow people to grow and improve quality. Now regulations are highly restrictive.

Explain freedom like industry in 1990s?

Students prefer post-graduate programmes (PGP) than an MBA programme and I was told, better students go to PGPs. MBA curriculum is already antiquated. If you ask people what curriculum to use, it’s preposterous. You must give institutions freedom to decide how many students they want.

Allow schools to grow and groom. All over the world you can give one year’s masters, but in India we cannot.

If you become a university, what areas would you like to diversify to?

We have not yet thought through it—very possible is law.

Have you spoken to the human resource development ministry?

Yes, we have. There is a perception that we are avoiding regulations, that’s not true. We want to be regulated. We don’t want unscrupulous institutions to hide behind our back.

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