Feb. 1: Arjun Singh and the IIMs have found a way out of the foreign foray dilemma with the minister setting down two terms the institutes would have to meet before setting up shop abroad.
In a meeting with IIM directors in Delhi, the Union HRD minister said the institutes would have to amend their memoranda of association and increase student intake to take care of “domestic requirements” before venturing overseas.
On January 11, the Centre had barred IIM Bangalore from opening a campus in Singapore, sparking an outcry about promises of autonomy in higher education.
This is not the first time that Singh has talked of a compromise formula. A week after the storm broke, he had said the IIMs can go abroad if they amended their charter.
“I told them you work out a plan and let us know within a month what you can do to enhance student intake,” Singh told reporters today.
This was the ground on which he had barred IIM Bangalore’s Singapore foray. Only 1,200 of nearly 2 lakh students who take the common admission test find a place in the IIMs.
Singh’s predecessor Murli Manohar Joshi, too, had asked the institutes to increase seats.
But the main two-year course is unlikely to see an immediate surge in seats. IIM Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia said the institute would increase seats for its one-year MBA this year itself.
The two-year course will have to wait as 100 seats had been added in 2003. “Such an increase can take place after four to five years only,” he added.
The minister tried to dispel a perception that a confrontation was in the making. “We are not against globalisation but we want Indian branding,” Singh said. “At the outset, I asked if there has been at any point of time any attempt on my part to interfere with autonomy. I received an emphatic ‘no’ for an answer.”
IIM directors sounded satisfied after the meeting. “The ministry has said it will support us if we make any changes to our MoA,” Dholakia said.
He said there had never been any “clash”. “Once we sat across the table, everyone understood they were working on the same platform and for the same cause.”
IIM Bangalore director Prakash Apte said his institute is “working towards a joint venture for global branding”.