International accreditation of business management courses offered by Indian B-schools

B SCHOOL

abhishek-agrawal-mdra_As Indian B-schools aspire to become truly global in various aspects – student intake, quality of education, placements and participation in international rankings – more and more of them are looking for international accreditation.

Accreditation is a process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The standards for accreditation are set by a peer review board whose members include faculty from various accredited colleges and universities. As per business dictionary, accreditation is defined as “certification of competence in a specified subject or areas of expertise, and of the integrity, awarded by a duly recognised and respected accrediting organisation”.

Merely an approval by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) or affiliation to a university/AIU (Association of Indian Universities) no longer establishes the quality of a business management program. Even an accreditation by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) no longer enhances reputation of these programs.

Among the 15,000-plus B-schools in the world, roughly 4,000 are in India. However, less than 0.25 per cent of Indian B-schools have received any of prestigious international accreditation.

While international accreditations are a costly affair, both in terms of financial investment and resource mobilisation in addition to tedious and time-taking process; they certainly offer a whole lot of tangible and intangible benefits – both in short and long terms. These internationally accredited institutions become more attractive to global students, faculty and recruiters alike and stand with higher ability to create a price differentiation (fees and admission brochure). On the other hand, it also helps in creating diversity of students as well as faculty. Such international accreditation gives an advantage of international recognition, status and exposure.

As these accreditations are based on assessment and verification of several parameters, including rigour in admission process, learning expectations and assurance, faculty quality, course curriculum, infrastructure, international interface, ethics, diversity, innovation, placements, among others, it serves the B-schools by informing them of their strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis their global peers.

There are three truly international accrediting organisations:

  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
  • The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)

While each of these use different systems on which to base their assessment of schools, all are highly evolved and provide high benchmarks for acceptance.

AACSB

The US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) was established in 1916 as a membership organisation for business schools.

In 1919, the first AACSB Accreditation Standards were adopted with the primary objective of improving collegiate business education. Today, the AACSB Accreditation Standards are used as the basis to evaluate a business school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications and contributions, programs, and other critical areas. AACSB accreditation ensures students and parents that the business school is providing top-quality education. It also ensures employers that AACSB-accredited business school graduates are ready to perform from day one. Additionally, AACSB accreditation provides many benefits to the faculty and staff at its accredited schools by attracting higher quality students, providing greater research opportunities, and allowing for global recognition.
AACSB’s accreditation standards drive impact, innovation and engagement with students, employers, and various stakeholders. The standards are rigorous, relevant, and benchmarks of quality. Institutions that hold AACSB accreditation are committed to high quality and continuous improvement – a powerful differentiator worldwide.

Currently, the following Indian business schools are accredited by AACSB:
a. Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
b. Indian School of Business, Hyderabad
c. T A Pai Management Institute Manipal

Here is a word of caution, especially for aspiring students – there are several B-schools who are members of AACSB, but have not received accreditation.

AMBA

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) is one of the major accreditation bodies for postgraduate business education and was established in 1967. The London-based group positions itself as “the world’s impartial authority on postgraduate management education”.

The AMBA system judges the quality of a business school’s strategy, mission, faculty, students, curriculum, and assessment. For example, to be accepted as an AMBA-accredited school, students admitted to a school’s program must have at least three years of work experience and three quarters of a business school’s faculty must have a Masters or Doctoral degree in a relevant discipline.

It differs from AACSB and EQUIS as it accredits a school’s portfolio of postgraduate business programs rather than the entire business school.

To date AMBA has accredited programmes at 210 business schools in over 70 countries. Its process of accrediting an MBA program includes reviewing compliance with over 100 criteria, most of them qualitative rather than quantitative. The criteria fall into seven dimensions: history and development of the institution; facilities and libraries; teaching faculty, teaching standards and research track record; program administration, career and alumni services; student admission standards, diversity and cohort size; curriculum content, program mode and duration; and learning outcomes.

Some of the key AMBA criteria for the accreditation of an MBA program include:
– All admitted students should have at least three years of full-time post-graduation work experience upon the start of the MBA course
– A school should have a track record of at least three years of graduating MBA students before it can be accredited
– An MBA program should have a cohort size of at least 20 students.
– At least 50% of the faculty of an MBA program (including visiting faculty as part of the total) are normally expected to have PhD degrees
– A full-time MBA curriculum should contain no less than 500 contact (teaching) hours and a distance-learning MBA program should have no less than 120 contact hours

The following business schools in India are AMBA-accredited:
a. Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
b. Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode
c. Indian Institute of Management Lucknow
d. International Management Institute, Delhi
e. Management Development Institute, Gurgaon
f. S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research Mumbai
g. Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai

EQUIS

EQUIS (managed by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Management Development – EFMD) is one of the major international systems of quality assessment, improvement and accreditation for business schools that provide courses in management and business administration. EQUIS evaluates a business school’s governance, strategy, programs, students, faculty, research and development, executive education, contribution to the community, resources and administration, internationalisation, and corporate connections.

The fundamental objective of EQUIS is to raise the standard of management education worldwide.

How does EQUIS assess schools?

EQUIS assesses institutions as a whole. It assesses not just degree programmes but all the activities and sub-units of the institution, including research, e-learning units, executive education provision and community outreach. Institutions must be primarily devoted to management education.

EQUIS looks for a balance between high academic quality and the professional relevance provided by close interaction with the corporate world. A strong interface with the world of business is, therefore, as much a requirement as a strong research potential. EQUIS attaches particular importance to the creation of an effective learning environment that favours the development of students’s managerial and entrepreneurial skills, and fosters their sense of global responsibility. It also looks for innovation in all respects, including programme design and pedagogy.

Institutions that are accredited by EQUIS must demonstrate not only high general quality in all dimensions of their activities, but also a high degree of internationalisation. With companies recruiting worldwide, with students choosing to get their education outside their home countries, and with schools building alliances across borders and continents, there is a rapidly growing need for them to be able to identify those institutions in other countries that deliver high quality education in international management.

As of now, only two business schools in India are accredited by EQUIS:
a. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
b. Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

SAQS

In addition to these truly international accreditation, The Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA), based out of India (Hyderabad) provides SAQS (South Asian Quality Assurance System) accreditation, which involves mentoring, self-assessment documentation, peer review and apex committee evaluation.

In India, the following business schools have received SAQS accreditation:
– Asian School of Business Management, Bhubaneswar
– ICFAI Business School Hyderabad Campus
– IILM Institute for Higher Education, New Delhi
– International Management Institute, New Delhi
– Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad
– Institute of Public Enterprise, Hyderabad
– K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai
– Management Development Institute, Gurgaon
– SVKM’S NMIMS School of Business Management, Mumbai
– Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai
– Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB)
– XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur

ACBSP

In 1989, several B-schools found that the AACSB-accredited business schools had an emphasis on research, while most business schools had emphasis on teaching. Based on the analysis of this gap, ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) was established to accredit business schools with emphasis on teaching and learning. Currently ACBSP accredits nearly 8,000 programs at over 1,200 campuses across the world. However, ACBSP accreditation is widely seen as less stringent that of other accreditation bodies such as AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA.

Currently, some programs of the following B-schools in India are accredited by ACBSP:
– Amity University, Noida
– Apeejay School of Management, New Delhi
– ICBM – School of Business Excellence, Hyderabad (Doctorate degree only)
– Jansons School of Business, Coimbatore
– Lovely Professional University, Punjab
– PSG Institute of Management, Coimbatore
– Ramaiah Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore
– Regional College of Management Autonomous, Bhubaneswar
– School of Communication and Management Studies, Cochin (Doctorate degree only)

Importantly, only doctorate degrees in some of these institutions have received ACBSP recognition.

The validity of such accreditation is also important as the accreditation can be withdrawn if the required criteria are not maintained by the institute. Considering the accreditation process, quality standards, eligibility process, accreditation criteria and scope of accreditation, the true gem in an institutions crown is an accreditation by EQUIS, AMBA or AACSB. This also explains why BT-MDRA ranking methodology gives significant weightage to these three international accreditations in its annual ranking of B-schools.

Abhishek Agrawal is the executive director, Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA)

Why many B-schools don’t take part in rankings

abhishek-agrawal-mdra_In my earlier column, I had reasoned why B-school rankings are important for all stakeholders including the B-schools. During my recent interactions with the heads of various business schools while conducting physical audit, I found some level of resistance among certain sets of B-schools in showing evidence of what they had claimed in their objective participation forms. Some directors even agreed that whether they like or dislike, rankings have become important part of the entire B-school ecosystem and they have to participate in prestigious and credible rankings. Most B-school leaders believe the rankings as very important way of marketing and brand building among aspiring students, recruiters, faculty and alumni.

In India, B-school rankings exist for over one-and-a-half decade (MDRA was among the first to design and develop B-school rankings in 1998 and publishing in 1999). However, despite all the stated benefits of these rankings, generally the participation has been low. Currently, there are 4,000 plus schools imparting business education in India, out of which about 1,500 B-schools fulfil the criteria for participation in BT-MDRA B-school ranking 2014. Among those who are not eligible for participation, most do not fulfil the criteria of having at least three batches graduating. Among these 1,500-odd B-schools, in spite of allowing a larger time-frame and spreading awareness of the ongoing rankings through different media throughout the process, about 250 B-schools have participated, which is about one in six schools. Though this figure is quite impressive considering all other participation-based rankings in India or elsewhere; a look at last three years’ rankings by various publications/ research organisations, the participation hovered between 100 and 200.

This leaves much to ponder on – why do many B-schools not want to participate in such rankings despite best of efforts and high level of transparency? While deep analysis and deliberations with various stakeholders are required, a preliminary listing of reasons based on our recent experience could be good enough to initiate a discussion on the subject:

SUB-STANDARD QUALITY

It is no more a secret how B-schools are mushrooming without any control on quality and many are shutting shop. There are plenty of business schools who are in the business of either awarding diplomas or just act as placement agencies without any serious approach towards imparting quality education or doing research. When they see the entire methodology of our rankings and the detailed questionnaire combined with need of documentary evidence, they feel themselves incompetent to participate in our rankings, leave alone the evaluation part.

FEAR OF AUDIT

While BT-MDRA ranking ensures the veracity of data through physical audit of campuses and programmes, this also distances many colleges. Some colleges have been reluctant with our audit system.

BIG AMOUNT OF DATA

To ensure a comprehensive evaluation and comparison of B-schools on all key parameters, the BT-MDRA methodology constantly tries to include relevant attributes year-on-year. This makes the participation form quite demanding in terms of putting together all the information along with documentary evidence. Several departments have to work in sync to complete the participation form. This, many colleges admit, becomes a big barrier. Some colleges just decline to participate saying too many information has to be collated and they do not have time for this.

SPECIALISED RANKING FOR SECTORAL PROGRAMMES

Certain business management programmes (such as offered by institutes like MICA, TISS, etc.) are sector-specific programmes. Some of these institutes demand a specialised ranking for these programmes and hence do not participate in more generalised B-school rankings.

FEAR OF NEGATIVE PUBLICITY

While generally B-schools agree that rankings are an excellent way of marketing, brand building and raising awareness, some B-schools look at it differently. They fear that a low rank would negatively affect their brand and hence choose to stay away of the rankings. But this is far from truth.

RANKING VS RATING

Some institutions just do not want to be compared with their peers, especially in the same region/city. They prefer to be put in the same bucket as their peer group instead of being marked below or above them, which is possible only in a rating system (such as A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B, etc) that avoids a direct comparison.

DIFFERENT RANKINGS, DIFFERENT METHODOLOGY

Even good B-schools have their own merits and demerits. The ranking methodologies used by different ranking agencies use different parameters and evaluation methods to compare B-schools. If some B-schools feel that a particular methodology suits them because they are strong in these parameters of evaluation, they just choose to participate in such selective rankings.

In addition to these strategic decisions on participation, a number of other factors, mostly tactical in nature play their own roles. Some of these are:

TIMING OF RANKINGS

As an example, the participation dates for BT-MDRA ranking 2014 fell in between April and July, when the colleges are either busy in their admission/ internships/ placements or summer vacations. Physical absence of decision-makers at this time also hampers participation.

PLACEMENT-IN-PROCESS

Many tier-II colleges have placements still ongoing during this time. As placement is a key parameter of evaluation, they do not want to participate based on incomplete placement data.

Other reasons include short-term factors such as relocation of colleges, change in management or officer who works on the participation form, etc. Another reason might be disagreement with the ranking outcomes or the methodology itself.

Whatever be the reasons, there has to be a process through which integrity, transparency and robustness of methodology be put together to produce a credible ranking. It would be good if the B-schools show deep and consistent engagement in such ranking processes which is possible through involving them at the time of designing and developing such rankings and  then discussing the published findings to take feedback.

If the sincere efforts are put in right direction, the desired outcome would not be far away.

6th UNICEF Awards for Children-Related Programmes in Telugu TV Channels

The UNICEF Awards were initiated in 2009, in partnership with the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), to encourage Telugu television channels to focus on the issues concerning the girl child. Since then, the Awards have grown in stature and broadened from only girl children to include both boys and girls from birth to 18 years and pregnant mothers. Over the years, Telugu television channels has shown great enthusiasm and effectively inspired numerous innovative programming on various issues about girl child. In the 5th edition of these awards the scope broadened from only girl children to include both boys and girls from birth to 18 years and pregnant mothers. The media appreciated the change as they also wanted the scope of the Awards to include both genders. The 6th edition of the Awards is a continuation of this successful initiative.

The 5th edition, apart from widening of the canvas, the awards were made theme based – Child Health, Child Education, Child Protection and Child Right to Food Security and Nutrition. The coverage by channels centered on issues such as awareness campaigns (advantages of breastfeeding, child safety skills etc.), individual achievements/success cases, child labour, child marriages, atrocities on children especially corporal punishment, individual criminal cases, child harassments, rape, honour killing, diphtheria, contaminated water, negligence of hospitals/doctors, lack of facilities in school etc. There were very few programmes on the theme Food Security and Nutrition.Last edition CMS began tracking, monitoring, recording and analysing 7,600+ hours of content from August 1 and continued through November 8, 2013. On July 30, 2013 political unrest began in Andhra Pradesh (AP) with the news of bifurcation of the State. Despite these heightened political activities in the state and the building up of assembly election environment, it is heartening to see that as many as 17 out of the 19 participating channels contributed 970 programmes to children-related issues running in 5526.38 minutes.

It has been heartening to note that there has been a discerning change in the attitude and approach by the TV channels and programmes. This transformation is evident in the Telugu television channels ever since the UNICEF Awards have been introduced. This was also apparent in the programmes and the initiatives taken in the previous 5 successive editions.

The 6th UNICEF Awards for Children-related Programmes in Telugu TV Channels was announced at a media symposium held at the Marigold – Green Park Hotel at Hyderabad on 1st August, 2014.

This year the Jury Chairperson is Mr PVRK Prasad, Retd IAS Officer and former Commissioner of Information and Culture Govt of AP. Other Jury members include Dr. Nagamallika Gudipaty is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, in The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, Mr. Mohd. Raheemuddin, Advocate and member of SCPCR and Ms. Shyama Sundari, Joint Director of the Department of Women Development and Child Welfare, Government of Telangana.

For this year awards, programmes telecast between 6 August and 14 November, 2014 in the prime-time band of 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm will be considered for the awards. These programmes would be tracked and coordinated by CMS.

All channels are also being invited to Self-Nominate programmes telecasted anytime on any day starting from 1st January, 2014 to 5 August, 2014. Programmes telecasted in prime-time band 6:30pm to 10:30pm will have higher weightage. The last date for submitting Self-Nominations to CMS is 14 November, 2014. Like in previous years, the Awards would be presented in gala ceremony in December 2014.

For further information please contact:

  1. Prosun Sen, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Office for Andhra Pradesh, Telanagana & Karnataka.
    P: 91 40 23227226, 23227236 | M: 91 9602666633 | E: psen@unicef.org | http://www.unicef.in
  2. Anita Medasani, Regional Manager, CMS Hyderabad
    1300 A, Road No 66 Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, AP
    P: 0402364 0493 M: 08897607936 | E:anita@cmsindia.org | www.cmsindia.org

Doordarshan should be freed to make it relevant

September, 2009, marked 50 years of Doordarshan’s existence as a public broadcavasantister. While the media scene has completely changed from the days Doordarshan first started transmission from a makeshift studio in 1959, the significance and concept of public service broadcasting is even more relevant now.

Public service broadcasting in its ideal form is driven by a sincere vision of providing accessible, diverse, independent and high-quality content to citizens. Doordarshan, now Prasar Bharati Corp., may not fit this model because of its strong links with the government.

Yet, it has played a crucial role in providing information, education and entertainment to most Indians.

This often results in the common misconception that Doordarshan represents public service broadcasting in India. Constrained by the organizational set-up of Prasar Bharati, the concept or vision of public service broadcasting in our country has taken a different meaning altogether. Anything low on production quality and/or on development issues is now construed as public service.

The current dilemma of public service broadcasting is linked to our assessment of two core principles—one, its value and importance in our country, and two, autonomy and independence of such a system.

There are many reasons for justifying genuine public service broadcasting, including the argument that it is a powerful instrument of social, cultural and political development rather than just an alternative consumer service. There are numerous studies to showcase system-wide and positive behavioural changes triggered by good programming. Some examples of such memorable programmes on Doordarshan include Hum Log, Udaan, Rajani, Jasoos Vijay, Kalyani Health Magazine, Haath se Haath Milao and Kyunki Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai.

graphI would also like to argue that just like any other limited resource, airwaves also need to be harnessed for the larger good of the citizens. Therefore, this public resource and space needs to be acknowledged and used accordingly. This responsibility is not only restricted to the government, but also applies to all those private companies that “borrow” this public resource to make profits. Public service broadcasting is not limited to one organization or broadcaster, and is also the responsibility of all broadcasters.

But today, we are focusing only on the state broadcaster—Doordarshan—and that brings me to the second core principle of autonomy. The formation of Prasar Bharati was an attempt to grant more autonomy and freedom to Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR). However, these hypothetical attempts only added to the structural woes of these large organizations. Even today, managerial and editorial autonomy is a distant dream for Prasar Bharati that continues to be tied to the ministry of information and broadcasting and the fancies of the ruling political party.

The issue of autonomy is usually correlated to funding. Despite receiving financial support from the government, there are independent organizations, such as the judiciary and the Election Commission, that are directly accountable to Parliament. In fact, funding a public service broadcasting system should be constitutionally guaranteed and de-linked from the vagaries of political change and decision-making.

This detachment from the government will also introduce much-needed professionalism and transparency in Doordarshan. The significant achievements and innovations made till date by Doordarshan are often overshadowed by inefficient organizational structure and systems. In fact, the greatest strengths of Prasar Bharati—its talented human resources, extensive hardware and facilities, rich archival programmes and countrywide network—are also its liability in the current organizational set-up because its increasing costs and maintenance burden are eating into its precarious budgets.

One indicator of this shortcoming is the declining popularity of Doordarshan. The graph is showing small dips in recent viewership data, reflecting what most of us already concede—that Doordarshan is losing ground to private channels. Of course, Doordarshan still maintains an ample lead in viewership among all broadcasters primarily due to its advantage of being a terrestrial broadcaster and its extensive network built over the years.

The best gift Doordarshan can get on its 50th birthday is much needed independence to emerge as a thriving public service broadcaster relevant to our democracy.

Experiments and innovations in MBA programmes in India

The businessab3 environment globally and in India is fast changing and transformations are taking place speedily. With new technology on the forefront, the future is becoming the past at faster rates. Even institutions of higher learning imparting professional education have to be competitive to sustain themselves with the increased dynamism of business environment. Coupled with this, the mushrooming of B-schools and resultant increase in MBA seats have forced B-schools to differentiate. This need is enabling a lot of experimentation and innovation in MBA programmes in India.

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In addition to the regular specialisation in marketing, finance, human resources, IT, international business/ trade etc, a large number of new programmes have been introduced in recent years with specific business sector or skill sets in mind.

While each of the programmes such as health care, hospital management, banking and finance management, supply chain and logistics management, infrastructure management, agri-business management and retail management are being run in 10 or more institutions, there are certain specialised management programmes which are offered by lesser number of institutions.

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Source: Various management colleges, the numbers are approximate and may vary

These programmes are of varying duration and some are not even approved/ accredited by AICTE.

The efforts at differentiation to provide higher educational standards that are competitive, and more effective in meeting goals of students, will surely lead to a variation from the set patterns of structure and contents. This involves the process of innovation, and will ensure that Indian institutions gain the cutting edge to attain the leadership position in management education. Thus, innovation that leads to competitive differentiation is something to be nurtured. By itself this will involve changes to the contents of the programmes, and over time, even what is desirable as the structure of the programme. With limited demand of such courses for sector-specific professionals, only the real innovators would be able to survive in the long term and “me-too” types of courses would have no takers.

Further, with the new ways of functioning of various sectors, one can think of many more specialised management programmes in future, especially to fulfil the political and bureaucratic needs such as:

  • Constituency management
  • Political campaign management
  • Disaster management
  • Railway management
  • Social media management

However, the real demand-supply gap has to be assessed in the near and long-term future before starting such programmes, as such programmes are catered to certain industries/ sectors and without their support it is difficult to sustain the long-term viability of such programmes.

(The author is Executive Director, MDRA)