Companies and B schools can jointly offer management programmes to students who want to study and also be assured of well-paying jobs.

The demand for management education in India is much larger than that of any other country including the U.S. By most estimates, about 2,50,000 Indians are seeking MBA degrees every year. It is no surprise that several schools have been started in the last six years to offer management education.

Till 2001, Indian institutes offered only a two-year programme in management. The Indian School of Business that opened its doors in 2001 offered a one-year programme in management. This programme targeted experienced professionals who did not have a management background, and successfully delivered to them. Since then, several institutes have started offering the one-year PGDM.

Part-time programme

The part-time programme is offered to people who want to be in their jobs but still want to educate themselves. Traditionally, this segment offered the programme in the evenings. But given the fact that the bulk of the demand for this programme comes from people working in the IT industry and who start their work only by 6 p.m. in line with the U.S. time zone, the part-time programme could not be offered in the evenings, but over the weekend. The distance mode of delivery of the programme also catered to this group. The distance delivery mode comprised correspondence courses, online delivery using technology platforms such as the VSAT-based one-way delivery of audio, video conference based multi-way delivery in synchronous mode. Internet-based asynchronous programme delivery is another method.

More recently, given the introduction of MOOCs (massive online open courses) by several reputed B schools in the U.S., some providers of online technology platforms are partnering with Indian schools to attempt such an online programme.

Most of these programme providers, while focusing on the process and delivery, overlook the real need of the students which is to acquire well-paying jobs at the end of the programme. Since such job placements are not delivered, several business schools in India are finding it difficult to recruit students. Students are not willing to pay a high fee which is out of sync with the starting salaries that are offered to students graduating from those institutes.

Students look for a 1:1 match between the fees of the programme and the starting salary. If an institute charges Rs. 6 lakh as the fee for the programme, students expect a starting salary ranging from Rs.5.5 lakh to Rs.6.5 lakh. Herein lies the issue, since most companies do not offer such starting salaries for entry-level managers. There is scope for offering a programme for inexperienced students which combines work and study in such a way that companies are also involved. Such a programme can combine the strengths of both modes of delivery — online and live classes. A programme that requires students to work as interns in companies during the weekdays and be in the class on weekends is an ideal one for inexperienced students. If companies can be co-opted into this programme by B schools so that they provide the internship opportunity to these students while also offering an opportunity to be considered for a job, the programme gains strength. Students can then get a better compensation upon graduation so that they would have had two years of experience. Companies would get to evaluate the candidates deeply before they offer them jobs.

The online technology will help in keeping the students connected to the professors and other students during the week while the course is delivered live during weekends. This requires a close cooperation between the institutes and the companies. Either one or both can take the initiative in designing such a programme. At the National Management School, we are experimenting with such a programme this year. This follows the success of the internship-based study-abroad programme that we organise for students from U.S. universities. We believe that a good quality programme with qualified professors can be delivered with the active cooperation of a few companies that see value in such a proposition.

The writer is Dean, The National Management School. Email: sankaran@nms.edu.in