‘Classroom learning is a must’

Tuesday, 16 March 2010 - 12:12am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
The economic slowdown last year forced institutes to introduce new, 'teaching pedagogy', introducing new specialisations and teaching students the ways to deal with the slowdown in placements.

For a young Indian getting a seat at a premier management institute is always a matter of pride. The economic slowdown last year forced institutes to introduce new, 'teaching pedagogy', introducing new specialisations and teaching students the ways to deal with the slowdown in placements.

Now with the recession fear over, DNA asked some top B-schools in the city about what should aspiring MBAs do to take the step forward?

A full-time MBA as opposed to part-time/ MMS/ distance MBA/PGDBM
According to PL Arya of NL Dalmia short-term diplomas are no substitutes when compared to a full-fledged management degree. "I don't think even the employers value them at par with the regular students," he said. While making a choice between a two-year full-time or a three-year part-time course; the first is valued more. "It comes across as students are not committed to the course, have no adequate time for reading, discussing, preparing or doing projects as their time is utilised at the workplace. So either a two-year full-time MBA or a PGDBMB done at any good institute is any day a better option," advises Arya. His colleague Prof Khedekar believes that if it is possible for a student to choose a two-year full-time programme he/she should go ahead with the decision. He cautions the freshers on choosing a specialisation from day one, find out one’s aptitude, interests and then build a career.

"The recession brought out new thought processes for MBA aspirants. It was also a time when those with years of work experience realised that it was an opportune time to get a management degree," said Ganesh Raja of ITM Business School. Anjan Maiti of NCRD Sterling Institute said, "A part time MBA would do better as they are already in the job and when they come to the classroom they can relate to the academics better. During classroom discussions they bring a different set of inputs.

Moreover it depends only on the student's seriousness and their dedication as to which mode of education they should take."
"Companies are looking for younger leaders who can perform from day one," said Vijay Page of MET. He added that an MBA course helps sharpen skills required by the industry and it is better if these skills are learnt earlier in one's career than waiting for a period of time and then walking in to a classroom. According to Rajan Saxena of NMIMS, those students with work experience have already got an industry view and so, while hiring, a company tends to consider their experience as opposed to the fresher who has just got his MBA degree. "The high-end, better paying jobs, with more sophisticated skills, go to people who come to the course with prior experience of 3 to 4 years, freshers in the two-year full-time programme can hone their skills, but are considered for the back end jobs.

For R Gopal of DY Patil Institute the distinction is simple—priority to full time MBA, then the part-time. According to him, those with experience also tend to influence the others to think in a way that the industry operates.

But Mrinalini Khohojkar of Thakur Institute of Management Studies and Research (TIMSR), feels that it is the student who should decide what is best for him/her. "Whether a full-time or a part-time course a student should choose what suits him/her best," she explained.

Experts however did not approve of the distance education MBA programmes. "Some of the key points which are fundamental to a management programme like decision making skills, interpersonal skills etc cannot be taught in a distance education module," said Khedekar.

International programmes in India and other affordable education destinations
Experts are of the view that, most of the foreign universities do not offer their core programmes outside their home campus. "Most of these universities will offer management programmes designed for the executive market. However, they will expand classrooms with conducting webinars, webchats and introduce virtual classrooms," said Saxena.

Maiti agreed with Saxena by listing the challenges Indian institutions face. "There is a feeling of inertia; a lot needs to be done to bridge the gap between Indian and foreign institute," he said.

According to Raja, most foreign and Indian universities are awaiting the Foreign Education Bill (FEB) bill to be passed. "This bill addresses issues of foreign universities establishing campuses in India and providing as well as upgrading courses. Once this is sorted Indian as well as foreign institutes will have a clearer perspective," he said.

Experts however deliberated that with education being a $30 billion market, and only 160,000 students going abroad every year especially the US; Indian institutes have a much larger segment to address.

Indian management graduate compared to his/her global peers
The panel believed that any good Indian institute is as good as any institute abroad. "We have good teachers, courses and students. Even our so called tier-II institutes produce good executives," said Arya. Page seconded Arya and stated, "The list of Indian CEOs at international companies are ever increasing, not just that many Indian executives are employed with multi-nationals and are making it big."

Saxena however explained, "There is no comparison to students gaining international experience though studying for the same degree offered back home, nothing can stand the experience one gets while studying in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and diverse group."

According to Gopal, Indian MBAs are not recognised in US due to the accreditation. The situations and the reactions of various ethnicities are not known, so how is an Indian management graduate going to stand among his global peers.

Khohojkar put forth a different view, "Foreign universities are
coming here as they see there is a market, we too need to realise this. Students need to take up entrepreneurship and in time become job givers and not job seekers," she said. 

Coordinated by Gauri Rane and Prachi Nayak

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