IIMB Director Devanath Tirupati speaks about the status of management education and his plans for the institution

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have earned the tag of excellence that catapulted them into the A-league among Indian educational institutions. But the IIM, Bangalore (IIMB) has beaten its sister institutions and several other institutions in Central Asia to be crowned best business school in the region with the Eduniversal Awards recently.

In an interview with The Hindu EducationPlus a day after another feather was added to the institute’s cap, IIMB Director Devanath Tirupati opens up about why this particular award is important, how IIMB plans to go international, the decline in registrations for this year’s Common Admission Test (which commenced on October 16) and what is going wrong with management education in India.

IIMB has beaten its sister schools to top the list of B-schools not just in India, but also in Central Asia. What is propelling this success story?

The Eduniversal survey is perceptual on deans. Deans look for different qualities; the yardsticks are different from the run-of-the mill surveys. They focus on research and innovation.

You spoke about increasing focus on ‘internationalisation’; can you elaborate? You have also mentioned focus on research. Where does IIMB stand today on that front and where does it go from here?

Going by the student and faculty perspective, they want to get more exposure. Students eventually want some international exposure, for which there are summer internships and exchange programmes. Faculty-wise, we are arranging for faculty from outside; like last year, we had around 10 members from outside. Our faculty too gets opportunities to teach in other places. We also have collaborations with top international schools in North America, U.K. and Europe. All these are short-term, ongoing measures. Our long-term project is to see what percentage of foreign students is joining our courses.

Our research too is being focused not just on problems with interest to India but also globally.

How do you propose to take the prospect of attracting foreign students forward?

We have no specific targets as internally (within India) we have a lot of demand. We also have foreign students as part of exchange programmes. But for them to enrol in our courses, we need more visibility. CAT is administered in India. We also advertise only in India. Only recently have we participated in education fairs abroad. But it is too early to tell as we have to plan resources around it.

Major surveys are spelling doom for the MBA story in India with falling enrolments and placements. What is your take on this?

It was a market correction which had to happen. Management cannot be a sunrise sector forever. It is the bottom of the pyramid which will suffer.

There has been a dip in registrations for CAT too…

This year’s CAT had 1.94 lakh registrations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the market is bad. There are management entrance tests other than CAT that candidates opt for.

So there could be a redistribution. At one level we are not too concerned because we are looking for the best students in the end.

Any progress made on awarding degrees instead of diplomas?

Well, that is a decision of the Parliament. A Bill is pending. But it does not make much of a difference for established institutions.