More B-schools closing than new ones opening
- Hemali Chhapia
MUMBAI: The dawn of the third millennium marked the golden age of professional education in India. Hundreds of new institutes came up adding thousands of seats. An equal number queued up to grab them.
A decade on, the picture is one of stark contrast in technical professional colleges: this year more B-schools applied for closure than those that took wing. This academic year, 94 management colleges have sought consent to shut down. In case of engineering colleges, many in the southern states, which experienced the highest growth in the professional education space, are up for sale. Many more colleges have trimmed programmes, branches of engineering or streams in the management course.
On the academic front, the Master of Business Administration programme was once supreme, attracting not only those interested in business but also those who wanted to master the tools of management. Today the overall growth of MBA education is negative in the books of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Between 2011 and 2013, the AICTE received 231 applications from management colleges wanting to shut down. The AICTE has okayed about 80 of them.
A similar story haunts the Master of Computer Application (MCA) coursewhile 84 colleges stopped offering the programme last year; only 27 started MCA courses. For students who choose not to apply to an MCA college, the decision is a no-brainer: with many more engineering seats available now, an undergraduate would rather earn a BTech degree followed by a two-year master's than enrol for a bachelor's in computer application and back it up with a three-year MCA that would also eat up six years.
Alive to the problem, the AICTE has decided to allow colleges to offer a five-year dual degree programme and also permit graduates of science, BSc (computer science) and BSc (information technology) to jump to the second year of the MCA course. Yet, the small positive growth in the sector is from the engineering colleges where new institutes are coming up faster than closures taking place, largely in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.
S S Mantha, AICTE chairman, said: "This is a critical phase for the professional education sector. Professional education must be in line with industry. If you don't offer placements, students are not going to come. Colleges in remote India and institutes of poor quality are not getting students. There is just one key to attracting students: institutes need to be top-of-the-line. There is no payoff in running a bad college." But things seem to be looking up. "As the economy revives, we will see a larger pool of applications from colleges wanting to start. We have received close to 120 applications from B-schools for the next academic year," added Mantha.
Joining a professional college was once the pinnacle of an Indian student's career. Aspirants far outnumbered the seats available. So, students, left with little choice, would join anonymous professional colleges. But often, they were put off by one or more of these three reasons: poor quality of teaching, lack of adequate faculty or no job offer at the end.
"A young graduate would rather take up a job or prepare harder for another shot at an entrance exam which is the gateway to a better college," said an IIT director. The problem is also linked to the economic slowdown, said an IIM director. "MBA as a programme has to be relooked at in many colleges. It is time the AICTE set up quality control cells. Indian professional education has to move up to the next level," he said.
- Question: How many MBAs do you need to change a light bulb?Answer: Who are you to decide this in a market economy.That is in a lighter vein. Don`t get angry. I am a MBA.I too used to think, the people at AICTE are crazy to permit so many engineering colleges and B schools. Then I realized that by allowing the market economy take over, they have done a service. If there is demand why restrict the supply?If we care about poor parents paying through their noses for engineering/ management education, chasing after jobs that are not there we can do two things.1.See that AICTE/ Govt of India publish notification indicating most optimistic job openings that will be available in next four years for engineers and MBAs along with number of students that are graduating in May every year. This will let students and parents understand what risk they are taking.2. Engineering curriculum should be made flexible so that a student can take few more courses and shift to a new stream that has more job openings.B.R.Reddy