Private education is big business in India. KPMG pegs the industry at nearly $50 billion and projects it to reach $115 billion by 2018. But growth rates are not uniform across the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors.
The allure of so-called B-schools outside the top tier is fading as the economy grows at its slowest in the recent years, with the financial sector especially sluggish, and amid questions about the quality of some schools.
Those who entered this industry with a motive to make money are leaving because there is not much money left. Every college is working to sustain itself. There was a near four-fold rise to more than 352,000 MBA course spots in the five years to March 2012.
B-Schools charge a wide range of fees. Look for an institute that charges a reasonable sum – say Rs. 5 to 7 lakhs for the entire two-year course. You will find that B-Schools attached to Universities often offer good value for money. The fees are usually reasonable and the overall offering, worthwhile. Look out for opportunities to join such institutes and make the extra effort needed to get selected. What is the real business of business schools, especially the critical stakeholders in the school, that is, students and faculty? The tragedy is that B-Schools have got relegated to the role of placement agencies and all students and faculty are partners in the demise of the larger reason for the existence of a B-School – to create entrepreneurs.
A study by MeritTrac-MBAUniverse suggests that the quality of education at many Indian B-schools falls short of recruiters’ standards. The survey, which looked at the marks secured by 2,264 MBAs who sat for tests administered by recruiting companies, found that only 21 per cent made the grade.
A boom in India’s management education sector that saw the number of business schools triple to almost 4,000 over the last five years has ended as students find expensive courses are no guarantee of a well-paid job in a slowing economy.
The question is whether businesses will be managed by Indians, Chinese, Americans or Europeans. India has the numbers to churn out a majority of the world’s managers by 2050. But it doesn’t have the institutional capability, unless a dramatic turnaround is achieved in the next decade. Of course, some of the most talented Indians will also manage key global businesses. They already do: Anshu Jain at Deutsche Bank and Indra Nooyi at Pepsi to name a few. The challenge is to produce many more such outstanding individuals.
Faculty need to make contributions to knowledge, consulting, teaching and training. As of today it seems that B-Schools are in the business of chasing training opportunities that are easy to capture rather than creating knowledge that is meaningful and a reflection of our existing context.
We should aim for a scenario that in 10 years from now, when an Indian is appointed CEO of a global major, it doesn’t make news. Why? Because there already will be so many of them. Only then will India truly arrive as a knowledge economy. It is now up to the hundreds of India’s business schools to rise to the challenge.