IIMs do agree on MHRD's contention that if IIMs take liberty to offer one-year MBA programmes then others may follow suit.
The government’s move to stop offering one-year post-graduate degree programmes at Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may spiral into a tussle between the two, with the premier B-schools uniting to hold on to their autonomy.
IIMs are planning to meet officials of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) and present them amicable options. For instance, they are considering options like either going back to offering one-year post graduate programmes as diplomas, instead of degree MBA, or adding an additional component of research after completion of one-year. The outcome depends on the kind of dialogue that the IIMs will have with the ministry even as they plan to make a joint representation soon.
IIMs, however, are willing to completely stop offering these programmes as asked by the MHRD recently.
On Friday, the ministry wrote to IIMs, saying the premier business schools (B-schools) cannot offer one-year post graduate degree as the University Grants Commission’s (UGC’s) regulations do not allow such a practice. The advisory to IIMs was based on an opinion given to the MHRD by the law ministry.
One of the directors of an IIM
offering such a programme, requesting anonymity, said that the adhering to the MHRD letter would “mean death knell” to their autonomy.
“We are willing to work with the government but the law ministry’s opinion has made it tricky. There is a fear among IIMs that falling under the purview of UGC despite having our own Act would mean submitting to their framework,” the director said.
IIM-Bangalore Director G Raghuram said the matter needed to be discussed, “especially if the MHRD, through the IIM
Act, has given autonomy to the IIMs”.
“We would first like to discuss among the IIMs. The IIM
Act confers degree-granting autonomy to IIMs for its various programmes,” said Raghuram. An emailed query to IIM-Ahmedabad, however, did not elicit any response.
Offered by some of older IIMs such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta, one-year post graduate programmes in management are mainly meant for executives with prior minimum work experience and aimed at training professionals to pivot in their career. While such programmes were offered as one-year diploma, the promulgation of IIM Act allowed greater autonomy to the premier B-schools to begin granting MBA degrees.
Hence, along with their flagship two-year MBA, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta IIMs changed the structure of the one-year post-graduate diploma for executives to one-year MBA programmes.
IIM-Calcutta Director Anju Seth said the B-school had every intention to continue this programme.
“The programme is now in its 14th year and successfully commenced online in April 2020. Graduates have deservedly gone on to very successful careers in India and abroad. We have every intention of further strengthening this powerful programme,” Seth said. According to IIM sources, even recruiters are in favour of continuing such one-year programmes given the kind of talent pool for mid-senior and senior leadership positions that they generate. Hence, recruiters are willing to support IIMs even if it means going back to offering these programmes as diploma and not degree MBAs.
The programmes are also one of the major sources of primary revenue in terms of fees since these are aimed at executives with considerable work experience and relatively more diverse in terms of internationalisation as compared to the flagship two-year MBAs. At IIM-Ahmedabad, a batch of 140 candidates is charged an annual fee of roughly Rs 28 lakh while that at IIM-Bangalore for a 73-strong batch is Rs 21.5 lakh.
IIMs feel the MHRD’s contention is that if IIMs take liberty to offer one-year MBA, then others may follow the suit. However, the B-schools also argue the divergent thinking that has been part of each IIM’s fabric since inception sets them apart from other institutions. “The government needs to understand the design principle operating behind each IIM’s fabric. Most likely there will be a representation from all of us asking the government to either leave us alone or modify the conditions. There is definitely an option to say add a research component after one-year of the programme,” said another director of an IIM on the condition of anonymity.
Even as IIM-Calcutta looks to “consult and deliberate at multiple levels” on the same, Seth is confident the premier B-schools and the MHRD will jointly find “the best possible solution”.