Innovative Programs in Management Education

All of us know about the 2 year MBA and the 2-Year AICTE approved PGDM in India. Why 2 years? In general in USA and Europe, the MBA is just 12 to 14 courses, ie 36 to 42 Credit hours. Some of us do a whole lot more – for instance the ITM 2-Year PGDM is a 6 Trimester, 32 course, 96 Credit hour program, almost a Triple MBA by US standards. The reason we do it is to cram in pre-requisite and 4th year equivalent courses when compared to a 4-year undergrad degree in USA vs the Indian 3-year UG degree.

There is a huge demand for various types of Executive Management Education. These are of several types:

– 40 to 44 Week full time programs (like ISB,  IIMs PGPX, GLIM, AGSB etc) for executives who would take off an year from their career track. Many of these have a 4 to 6 week immersion in a developed economy (AGSB takes all students to a 6 week internship in USA)

– Week-End only Exec MBA – these are usually longer, stretching to 64 to 90 week-ends. A variation on this model is alternate 3-day week-ends

– Capsule model, with a 5-day intensive capsule delivered once in 3 to 4 months, with assignments and Independent study in the interregnum. Usually 4 to 6 capsules qualify for a EMBA award together with a capstone module.

– Part Time model with classes on 3 to 4 week day evenings (like the MMM, MFM and MAM of Mumbai University)

– On-line models (Hughes sponsored programs with curricula and content from XLRI etc)

– Short term models like the NIIT Experia, in association with IIMs

The USP of these models is:

– Experiential and shared learning

– Minimum time off from work

– Career enhancement is the goal, rather than a first job

These models ought to be left alone, since these are intended to be for working executives, and no public purpose is served by seeking to regulate ALL programs. If AICTE were to regulate all programs and issue model curriculum, it follows implicitly that:

1. AICTE regards itself as the source of all innovation, and

2. No program can aspire for Research and Industry Interaction based continuous innovation., and

3. No regional institution can aspire for National level presence, as predominantly it will attract local talent only.

I feel sincerely that AICTE should really stay away from regulating innovative programs which are a different breed from the generic University affiliated MBA programs. Licensing, and prescribing minimum expected norms for infrastructure is fair enough, but seeking to prescribe a curriculum, controlling admissions, fixing the tuition fee etc is going backwards in to the License Raj era!

Dr P. V. Ramana

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The AICTE published a notification on December 28, 2010 abdicating its responsibility for PGDM programs. AICTE intended that State DTE CAP process should apply to all PGDM programs. This has destroyed in one stroke the hopes of lakhs of MBA aspirants who write the CAT, and MAT etc with hope of getting admission into IIMs etc, failing which they can aspire for admission into quality programs like ITM, across the country. The Bombay High Court Judgment of 24/02/11 in effect has allowed ITM to continue to admit PGDM students through CAT, MAT, XAT etc  for the year 2011-12.

AICTE has served a very useful function since 1994, when it was blessed with an activist Chairman – Dr SK Khanna. He realised the true potential of the AICTE Act and started vigorously implementing the basic functions of AICTE – setting norms, inspection of ‘Technical Insititutions” and granting LOI, LOA etc. The process worked, till it was abused. Ever since Dr Mantha has taken over, the process improvements he undertook vastly changed the functioning and removed all traces of the taint it had accumulated. a fully on-line and tamper-proof system of granting approvals brought back the shine to AICTE, just when the Reform Bills were stuck in the parliament. Then why the retrograde decision of bringing PGDM admissions into the DTE domain? Let us examine the raison d’etre for the existence of the PGDM program.

It was intended to be a non-grant, non-affiliated, autonomous track equivalent to a MBA. The reason was that, barring a handful, the University affiliated MBA programs had atrophied into teaching shops, and every institute had to follow the University prescribed curricula. Naturally the obsolete curriculum did not allow any industry-relevant and research-driven topics into the system. ITM was born recognizing the very fact that few colleges cared for what the Industry needed.

Then why this decision? One can only speculate that the AICTE Council took a view that ALL ADMISSIONS MUST BE STATE CONTROLLED! This view is contrary to the principles of justice and fairness expressed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in 3 land mark judgments  (TMA Pai, Islamic Academy, PA Inamdar)  which can be summed up briefly thus:

a) Managements have the right to manage

b) This right includes the right to admit, fix eligibility standards, and fix the fee etc

c) For MBA programs, the eligibility should include a standard entrance test like CAT, MAT etc

d) An independent agency or a Consortium of Colleges of similar type, can conduct this test.

e) The Institutes should make available in the public domain the eligibility criteria and the weight given to different elements such as CAT Percentile, 10th, 12th and Graduation marks, work experience, relevance of qualifying exam to chosen course of study, any PG Qualification, GD and PI scores etc of the Total weighted score.

f) The results should be put in the public domain

g) Selection shall be on the rank ordered final merit list

h) There should be a single window so that candidates do not run from pillar to post seeking admission in different institutes.

ITM fulfills these criteria, since, ITM runs many B-Schools in different states, with AICTE approval ( a total of 8 LOA with 1 under process), accepts standard national tests, and conducts open and transparent admissions, with a single window for all the B-Schools under its brand ITM.

Management Quota? ITM does not take any Management Quota – ie ITM does not sell seats – ever!

Is there a continuing role for AICTE? In the last couple of years, ever since the Dr Mantha has taken over, AICTE has done a fantastic job of streamlining the approval process, introducing fully on-line procedure etc. In fact the need for visiting the AICTE Office has disappeared! AICTE derives its power form the Parliament, and unless the Parliament decides otherwise, has its role in defining and enforcing minimum standards in Technical Education.

I have this basic idea regarding the future of Educational Reform and Regulation. The TMA Pai 2002 Judgment of SC clearly stated that ‘the idea of an academic degree as a “private good” that benefits the individual rather than a “public good” for society is now widely accepted’ (Para 49). This statement is questioning the need for overbearing control of higher education by the state. Future regulatory reforms have to stand this test, or will be struck down by SC

Also I feel that several categories of Institutions will emerge needing different control mechanisms, and one size will not fit all:

  • IIMs, IITS etc owned by Central Government etc not presently under control of either University Grants Commission or AICTE
  • Deemed Universities, under University Grants Commission. This category is presently under attack, but will regain prominence due to the sheer need for independent universities to cater to the huge demand
  • Private State Act Universities, limited to the State where they are licensed for first 5 years, but can operate Nation-wide later. University Grants Commission is loosely controlling these. Not all states have Private University Acts.
  • ITM like multi-state institutions, controlled by AICTE – providing a National Alternative to IIMs and the like.
  • PGDM Schools who are strictly regional
  • Stand alone Institutions of great merit , like ISB, who really do not want nor need any control
  • Purely commercial operators, neither accredited nor controlled

Market forces will control the destiny of the great number and variety of Institutions in Higher Education, where there is a scarcity of quality Institutions at the top end, and seats are going a begging at the bottom end.

I leave you with a basic question – Are Management Insititutes to be classed as “Technical Institutions”? I feel that the field of Management studies is so different that it needs an Independent Self-Regulator. AIMS had this opportunity, but surrendered it meekly in an AICTE organized Seminar/Workshop  (in 1993-94 – I believe) in Banglore well attended by some of the doyens of Management Education. We need to recover from that. How should we go about it?

Dr. P V Ramana

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Hi All

I have just started a blog site at

You are welcome to add comments and keep the discussion going. I intend to start 2 threads – AICTE and Education, and my thoughts about “Upanishads – Simplified”


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Hello world!

Hi, Welcome to my world which currently has 2 themes – Higher Education Reforms, and the second is “Upanishads simplified”

Dr P V Ramana

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