B-Schools in India Thrive on Quality and Not Rising Numbers

The number of private management institutions and B-Schools in India is expected to double from the present 300 to 600 in the next two years, as the government has reduced its spending on higher education.

So what does it mean for the industry and the students alike? The growth trend is a result of the apparent demand and supply asymmetries that exist in the MBA education market. The void that has been created by the lack of adequate infrastructure by the government has created an enabling environment for the private institutes. With that as the prevailing background, the buoyant economy and the resultant demand for skilled human resource have been the potent triggers for the market to expand exponentially. And thus we see a deluge of management institutes across the country. The predicted growth in the number of management institutes could also mean an increasing interest in professional courses among students. More students are opting for management courses because of the lure of high paying corporate jobs. The fallacy in this logic is that these high-paying jobs only go to students graduating from the top- tier management institutes.

Simply opening more management institutes does not mean all students graduating from these institutes will get high- paying jobs. Just like any other industry, competition in times to come is imminent, But then, unlike other industry, India education is one industry where the older it gets, the better it becomes – provided there is no compromise in quality of education and everything around it. So the rest of the competition would be more upon the newer entrants as they would then compete on every other parameter like infrastructure, faculty, academic and industry interfaces, etc, but for legacy.

Increasing the number of management institutes will not matter when it comes to improving the quality of education. There are already so many institutes, be it B- schools, technical universities or independent universities. When we’re talking about quality, only a handful of institutes are providing that. If we want India to become a superpower then we’ll have to achieve that.

How do we ensure quality of B-Schools

Quality is governed by only one thing – the quality of faculty. The supply of good quality management faculty is scarce and having more management institutes or B-Schools will stretch this problem further. Consequently, the quality of management institutes, when their numbers increase, will be under severe stress. In order to develop a good faculty, we’ll have to devise a strategy to attract the best of the talents from around the world. The new dean of Harvard B- School is an Indian, so is the dean of Kellogg School of Management. Indians are doing exceptionally well in this sector globally. We need to have similar faculty in India as well.

The only way to get out of this quality abyss is to make it more attractive for good people to become management faculty. This is of course easier said than done as it has significant salary increase implications that need to be sustainable from the perspective of the management institutes. The future of MBA education rests only on those institutions which proffer uncompromising quality of education and at the same time remain receptive to change.

This should be done with a singular objective – and that is creating the maximum value for its stakeholders, which are students in this case. In education, there cannot be any other differentiators than education itself.