Litmus test for one-year MBA
The human resource development ministry plans to seek the law ministry’s opinion on the validity of the one-year Master of Business Administration courses that some of the Indian Institutes of Management have introduced for working executives from this academic year.
The IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta began teaching the one-year MBA course from July after passing relevant regulations at their boards of governors.
But the government is unsure about the move’s legality since the University Grants Commission, the higher education regulator, prescribes two-year MBA courses. It has therefore decided to seek legal opinion.
The UGC Act empowers the commission to decide the nomenclatures and durations of degrees. But the B-schools, empowered to award degrees by the IIM Act, passed last year, believe they have the academic freedom to design their courses and decide their duration.
These institutes offer fresh students a two-year Postgraduate Programme (PGP) in Management — a diploma course — or a regular two-year MBA course. Till last year, all of them taught one-year PGP courses to working executives.
“We always offered one-year courses to working executives,” a professor at IIM Calcutta said. “Only the label has now changed from ‘diploma’ to ‘MBA’; there’s no addition curriculum. So, the one-year duration has been retained.”
When the respective boards of the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta discussed and approved the one-year MBA courses, the ministry representative at each meeting is learnt to have expressed reservations and cited the regulator’s rules.
“One IIM has sent its regulation on the one-year master’s course to us,” an HRD ministry official said. “It will be sent to the law ministry and its opinion sought.”
Higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam believes the B-schools are not bound by the regulator’s norms but not everyone in the ministry agrees.
A senior commission official said the B-schools could start teaching one-year MBA courses only if the regulator notified such courses. “The institutes should send a proposal to the ministry to ask the commission to notify the one-year MBA courses,” the official said.
He added that in the absence of such a notification, government-sector employers might question the one-year degrees.