It has grown quantitatively, but not qualitatively, and contributed too little to the labour-rich but skill-poor economy, feel experts

Is ‘management education' in India in crisis? Will the mushrooming of management institutions help the stream tide over the crisis? And, how sensitive are these institutions and authorities concerned to the problems and challenges that have already started bothering it?

The challenges before management education, or rather managing management education vis-a-vis the demands posed by the industry and other socio-economic and cultural factors, need to be properly analysed and understood from an altogether fresh approach, opine experts.

With the concept with which management education was introduced in the country more than 25 years old, experts have opined that it is time to respond to the changes that have not only brought developments and progress in various fields, but also changed old notions.

The Rani Channamma University, Belgaum, the second largest varsity in Karnataka, had recently organised a seminar on the issue ‘Management Education-Road Ahead' and with a view to revisit the road already traversed, assess the present situation and explore ways and means to restructure the system to make it meaningful, effective and productive. C.M. Thyagaraja, Professor and Chairman, Department of Post-Graduate Studies in Business Administration at RCU's Vidyasangama campus in Belgaum, shared his views with The Hindu EducationPlus on the sidelines of the seminar:

Management education is passing through a critical phase. There is a crisis of identity, character and quality. This is the apt time to discuss and deliberate the matter by taking stock of the situation.

Management education has grown quantitatively, but not qualitatively, and contributed too little to the labour-rich but skill-poor economy. Too many attractive, lucrative and competent jobs are chasing very few individuals, who are highly talented, skilled and dynamic. An average student finds it difficult to sail through the acid tests of the corporate sector. The element of professionalism, an important ingredient towards building managers, is not taught by institutions imparting management education. Communications skill for students from rural areas is like climbing the Himalayas, he opined.

Saleable product

Like professional education, management education to has become a saleable product. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Amritsar to Singur, more than 4,000 institutions have emerged in the management education landscape.

The origin of management education dates back to ancient times. It is a unique art developed by mankind along its evolution journey. Greeks, Chinese and Indian thinkers contributed to this art of getting things done by others. Strategic decisions and art of administration were adopted during the times of Koutilya. Management education is an offshoot of the industrial revolution which created the factory system, thereby providing a ledge to the art of management. In the Indian subcontinent, management education has come over a period of past 50 years, whereas Europeans are teaching this education since the last 400 years.

Due to the slow rate of economic growth after independence till 1990 the opportunities created by industry were too few. Globalisation gave a big boost to the economy while the service sector came to dominate other sectors. This has necessitated the demand for management education. The Indian landscape of management education is composed of the following:

The IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) top the list which pick the very best. . Management institutes affiliated to universities, autonomous institutions approved by the All India Council for Technical Education, institutions without the approval of AICTE, and foreign universities are also offering degree and postgraduate degrees in India.

Role of AICTE

The Union Government, during its winter session of 1987, accorded permission to establish the AICTE, which is a body for professional education in this subcontinent. According to AICTE data (see table) the number of institutions imparting management education mushroomed in just five years. The intriguing question confronting all the stakeholders is: “Why was permission given to so many institutions?”

In the last five years, the AICTE, by granting permission to more institutions, also allowed increase in the intake of students by more than 300 per cent, which has also been indicated in the hand book (see table). Thus, these figures reveal that the AICTE adopted a quantitative expansion strategy but paid inadequate attention to quality of management education.

Further, among 4,000 plus institutions sanctioned by AICTE, Andhra Pradesh has 945, Uttar Pradesh 459, Maharashtra 419, Tamil Nadu 389, Madhya Pradesh 215 and Karnataka 209.

Experts feel that AICTE's policy is liberal in according permission to start institutions and increase intake.

Secondly, institutions enter the management education scenario with the intention of making quick profits as against contributing their bit to the field with some genuine concern. Thirdly, institutions imparting management education negated quality and concentrated on quantity.

Lapses

Fourthly, lapses in curriculum upgradation and banking on some core subjects and niche electives added to the problems.

The element of ‘skill quotient' is not appropriately addressed to add value to the education. Faculty members with industrial experience are less in numbers to share their expertise.

Interestingly, the former Chairman of the University Grant Commission, Arun Nigavekar, who addressed the delegates at the seminar, observed that under the changed circumstances it become inevitable to shun the old curriculum in management education and prepare CEOs by directing them to set goals and develop necessary skills to pursue them.

Citing the results of a survey conducted by the University of Michigan based on the interview with 1,500 executives, he said it was found that the subject to be learnt changed on priority. But the same subject became redundant.

He also quoted from the survey to say that three per cent of the sample population who set goals had more net worth after 25 years than those who did not.