Shubham Das is clueless about the war being waged between a regulatory body and management institutions. Having applied to a handful of B-schools, Das — who took the entrance exam recently — is now preparing for the group discussion (GD) and personal interview (PI). But if the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has its way, Das wont be interviewed by any institution but by the state government.
In an eight-point notification sent by the AICTE on December 28, the regulatory body had asked private management institutes to revise their postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) guidelines. The notification, which the B-schools maintain, will curtail their autonomy, deals with the admission process, curriculum and fee structure.
The B-schools, after a futile meeting with the AICTE, decided to go to court. The Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS) and Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI) filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court, which has asked the AICTE to come up with a reply on its next hearing on March 15, till which time the status quo in admissions is to be maintained.
The AICTE notification is an encroachment on our autonomy, says Prof. H. Chaturvedi, alternate president, EPSI and director, Bimtech. We are knocking on the apex courts door so that there is some interim relief, he adds.
Many institutes in Maharashtra and Orissa too have got a breather after taking recourse to the courts. The Mumbai High Court granted interim relief to institutes under the Maharashtra-based Consortium of Management Education (COME) and ITM Group of Institutions.
For the academic year 2011-12, the Mumbai High Court has allowed COME to conduct a common joint GD and PI on behalf of its 52 member institutes. Further, the court has also allowed the use of any of the five national management tests — Common Admission Test (CAT), Management Aptitude Test (MAT), Xavier Admission Test (XAT), AIMS Test for Management Admissions (ATMA) and Joint Management Entrance Test (JMET).
According to Apoorva Palkar, president, COME, the body will discuss other aspects of the notification once the admission process for the current year is over. Our immediate concern was that students should not suffer as the admission process in many institutions has already begun. So with the interim relief, the admission process for this academic session wont be hampered, says Palkar. COME, which was formed in January to tackle the AICTE notification, is a group of 50-odd management institutions in Maharashtra.
Some of the new AICTE stipulations are: all PGDM programmes shall be of not less than 24 months, and admission has to be done through a common entrance test such as CAT, MAT or examinations conducted by the respective state governments. The council also wants to maintain a common academic calendar, model curriculum and fee structure to be issued by the council, and the admission is to be conducted by the respective state governments.
The AICTE circular is a massive problem for stand-alone institutions of international repute such as the Xavier Labour Research Institute, SP Jain Institute of Management and Management Development Institute, says Chaturvedi. How can the state governments conduct examinations for such decades-old institutions with their own set of selection procedures, asks Chaturvedi.
According to Premchand Palety, director, Centre for Forecasting Research (C-Fore), the one-stop solution adopted by the AICTE to curb fly-by-night operators wont serve its purpose. There cant be a straight-jacket solution for all the institutes as fake ones would still thrive and reputed ones would get affected unnecessarily, he says. C-Fore is a Delhi-based market research agency that conducts B-school surveys every year.
With over 2,000 AICTE-approved schools, the solution forwarded by the council to keep only quality institutions running seems to have backfired. The AICTE should have a mechanism to regularly check false claims made through advertisements by institutes, redress student grievances and punish the guilty, says Palety. They need to increase their manpower and train the officials about management education as well.
The B-schools are asking the council not to meddle in their affairs. This kind of notification suits institutes that are not delivering quality education. But for us, its regressive, says Prof. Himadri Das, chairperson, admissions, International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi.
Perhaps the ministry should learn a lesson or two about accreditation from the Western nations, says Palety. The AICTE despite its best efforts hasnt been able to put any rigid accreditation system in place. I was part of a team to revamp the National Accreditation Board (NBA) and we had drafted a policy and recommended changes. Till date, nothing has happened on that note, he rues.
In the United States, the quality of management institutions is monitored by the AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), a body of top management institutions recognised for accreditation. Its counterpart in Europe is the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), which has members from academia and business for accreditation of higher educational institutes. Management institutes like IMI have gone for international accreditation from the South Asia Quality Systems (SAQS), a group supported by EFMD.
We are one of the seven B-schools in South Asia to be accredited by SAQS; the AICTE should not waste its time on us, says Das.
The AICTE, however, isnt keen to listen to the grievances of the management institutes. The chairpersons office declined to comment as the matter is sub judice. Speaking at a recent event in the capital, Union minister for human resource and development Kapil Sibal had touched upon the issue of regulating institutions not adhering to stipulated norms. Legislation like the Education Malpractice Bill and National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill will improve quality in higher education and stop institutes from duping students, Sibal had said.
The battle for autonomy and quality, it seems, will continue for some time. And thousands of students like Das will face an uncertain future till a clear-cut solution comes into effect.
1. PGDM programmes shall be of at least 24 months
2. Admission shall be on the basis of CAT, MAT or tests conducted by the respective state governments for all institutions other than minority ones
3. Admission to PGDM, PGDM (executive) and PGCM shall not start before March 31 of the
4. Model curriculum / syllabus for PGDM, PGDM (executive) and PGCM shall be issued by the council
5. Admission to PGDM shall be conducted by the state government through a “competent authority” designated for such purpose
6. Fees for PGDM, PGDM (executive) and PGCM shall be decided by the All India Board of Management, AICTE
7. Conduct of examination / arbitration on matters of examination shall be decided by the All India Board of Management, AICTE
8. Academic session shall normally be from June 1 to May 31 of succeeding years.