More and more students are shifting from MBA to other PG programmes.

Is the full-time MBA programme losing its sheen among young graduates? Universities and institutions offering full-time and part-time courses in MBA and observers ponder over the question in the wake of the global economic recessionary trend and the shift to alternative post-graduate programmes for various reasons.

This year, the worries of universities and institutions in Karnataka are amplified by the fact the there has been a sharp decline in admissions to MBA programmes. Of the total 18,470 seats available in institutions/colleges affiliated to 10 universities in the State, only about 41 per cent have been filled so far.

The declining trend is stated to be similar to the trend in the U.S., particularly in respect of Indian students who have been keen pursuing the course there.

The VTU conducted the Post-Graduate Common Entrance Test (PGCET) 2010 in the State for admission to MBA and M.E./M.Tech/M.Arch. courses to determine the merit of both Karnataka and non-Karnataka candidates for admission to the first year/first semester of full-time and part-time courses in 198 government colleges, university departments and private unaided institutions.

These were affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Bangalore University, Gulbarga University, Karnatak University, Kuvempu University, Mangalore University, University of Mysore, Tumkur University, Davangere University and Bijapur Women's University for the year 2010-11. The total intake in these institutions accounted for 18,470 seats, of which 8,470 seats are under management quota and the remaining 10,010 under the government quota.

Seats surrendered

In sharp contrast to the demand for MBA programmes last year when more than 22,000 candidates had appeared for the PGCET-2009, only about 18,000 turned up at the test centres this year. During the first and casual rounds of counselling, which was completed on September 19, a total of 7,582 seats were allotted, which included 389 management seats. So far, 1,623 management seats have been already surrendered.

However, the clear vacancy position will emerge only after the ‘reconciliation meeting' to be held at VTU in the first week of next month.

The decline in the popularity of MBA courses is being attributed to several reasons. “There is a notable shift from MBA to alternative post-graduate programmes this year, a phenomenon being witnessed in majority of B-schools not only in Karnataka but in other States too,” said Anil B. Kalkundrikar, Director of the Belgaum-based Institute of Management Education & Research (IMER). The situation at the Karnatak University-affiliated IMER, which has been awarded A+ status, placing it in the category of one of the best B-schools in the country during a survey conducted by Business India, is not different this year. It is very disappointing, he said.

Prof. Kalkundrikar, who is also an educationist and management expert, while sharing his observations with The Hindu EducationPlus, said the economic recession has taken its toll even on courses like MBA as majority of the candidates and their parents have become apprehensive about placements.

Also, the salary packages offered by the industry are no longer attractive and the candidates are finding teaching jobs in colleges paying UGC scales more attractive. That apart, the course itself has become unaffordable for the candidates belonging to the middle class, let alone those coming for economically poor sections.

While the cost of a MBA course ranges from Rs.3 lakh to Rs.4 lakh , it is less than Rs.50,000 for PG programmes in economics, commerce and science. Therefore, many candidates are opting for M.A. in Economics, M.A. in English and other languages, M.Com. and M.Sc. programmes after graduation in their respective trades and look forward to teaching jobs, even as there are several other sectors which are recruiting candidates from such trades.

Access matters

However, the situation is better in institutions based in metros like Bangalore because of access to corporate world and industry. Many candidates choose not to pursue MBA if they get admission in a college based in metro cities. Hence, the shift from MBA to other PG programmes.

While similar observations were made by sources in other B-schools in Belgaum, Dharwad and Bangalore, they also pointed out that an increasing number of management colleges/institutions in the State do not have proper infrastructure and fail to deliver what they promise in their colourful brochures. Many institutions do not even have adequate and qualified faculty because of absence of competitive salary packages.

Yet, it is too early to apprehend that the situation, even though miserable at the moment, may force many B-schools to close down. MBA education is also facing a typical demand-supply gap, making the packages ‘not-so-attractive' now.