Published On: Tue, Jan 31st, 2012

Faculty strength lags behind student intake at B-schools

EduShine Academic Search

Classrooms in business schools in India have been growing in size over the past decade, spurred by an increase in demand for management professionals. Top institutes are opening new campuses and new B-schools are popping up everywhere like a bad case of rash. Management education is more accessible than ever before, but quality has taken a severe beating.

Around 2,500 institutes in the country now churn out one lakh MBA graduates every year. The problem, say industry leaders and B-school professors and alumni, is that there are too few teachers, even at premier institutions. While the number of students at IIM’s flagship Ahmedabad campus increased sharply from 1999 through 2009, from 165 to 280, faculty strength went up only marginally from 83 to 90.

Indian School Of Business , Hyderabad, started with 120 students and two teachers in 2001. Today it has 570 students and 46 faculty members – a better ratio than 10 years ago but still not good enough for a top management institute , say experts. Harvard Business School has a student-teacher ratio of 7:1.

Students are feeling the pressure because of decreasing interaction with teachers. Amit Mahajan (name changed on request), a member of IIM-A’s class of 2010, says there were 280 students in his batch. “At the end of the course, we barely managed to cover case discussions,” he says.

“Larger batches can result in less student networking of the type that once helped old classmates set up new companies ,” says IIM-Ranchi director M J Xavier, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus.

Lack of infrastructure in new colleges is also a concern. Tamil Nadu’s only IIM will soon be a year old but the institute is still functioning out of the campus of National Institute of Technology, Trichy. Dip in quality of MBA grads worries India Inc.

The rapid growth in batch sizes at business schools could have a wide ranging impact on business and hinder the development of new companies, say experts.

Premier institutes like the IIMs have always had close-knit student groups and strong alumni networks, says IIM-Ranchi director M J Xavier, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus. “The networking within these groups that helped old classmates conceptualize and incubate start-ups and create business connections could already be on the decline,” he says.

Heads of companies believe that course content does not reflect business realities. The cornerstone of an MBA course at a premier school is based on case studies that require intensive interaction between students, teachers and companies, but this contact is diminishing, they say.

“One reason why students from the IIMs are readily employable is because faculty members are in close touch with industry and understand its requirements,” says K S Sundar Ram, an IIM-A alumnus and executive director at auto components company Natesan Synchrocones.

If batch sizes continue to grow, he says, teachers will not have much time for industry contact or research. Some institutes, like ISB, Hyderabad, say they are trying to address the issue by giving weightage to research work that includes publication of papers and industry interaction during annual appraisal of faculty members . “Faculty time is demarcated between teaching, research and administrative matters, with research being given the largest share,” says ISB deputy dean Deepak Chandra.

But company heads say the government must also act and change its policy of inclusivity at the cost of quality. Six new IIM campuses have been set up since 2009, taking the total number to 13 by 2011. As with other premier management institutes that are expanding more rapidly than feasible, inadequate infrastructure is a worry even at the new IIM campuses.

Experts say the government’s mandate to decide the pay of faculty members has also created problems.

“Because of this, IIM-A has been forced to find other ways to supplement compensation and this has led to many unintended consequences ,” says Prafull Anubhai in recently-released book The IIM-A Story. Classrooms in business schools in India have been growing in size over the past decade, spurred by an increase in demand for management professionals. Top institutes are opening new campuses and new B-schools are popping up everywhere like a bad case of rash. Management education is more accessible than ever before, but quality has taken a severe beating.

Around 2,500 institutes in the country now churn out one lakh MBA graduates every year. The problem, say industry leaders and B-school professors and alumni, is that there are too few teachers, even at premier institutions. While the number of students at IIM’s flagship Ahmedabad campus increased sharply from 1999 through 2009, from 165 to 280, faculty strength went up only marginally from 83 to 90.

Indian School Of Business , Hyderabad, started with 120 students and two teachers in 2001. Today it has 570 students and 46 faculty members – a better ratio than 10 years ago but still not good enough for a top management institute , say experts. Harvard Business School has a student-teacher ratio of 7:1.

Students are feeling the pressure because of decreasing interaction with teachers. Amit Mahajan (name changed on request), a member of IIM-A’s class of 2010, says there were 280 students in his batch. “At the end of the course, we barely managed to cover case discussions,” he says.

“Larger batches can result in less student networking of the type that once helped old classmates set up new companies ,” says IIM-Ranchi director M J Xavier, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus.

Lack of infrastructure in new colleges is also a concern. Tamil Nadu’s only IIM will soon be a year old but the institute is still functioning out of the campus of National Institute of Technology, Trichy. Dip in quality of MBA grads worries India Inc.

The rapid growth in batch sizes at business schools could have a wide ranging impact on business and hinder the development of new companies, say experts.

Premier institutes like the IIMs have always had close-knit student groups and strong alumni networks, says IIM-Ranchi director M J Xavier, an IIM-Calcutta alumnus. “The networking within these groups that helped old classmates conceptualize and incubate start-ups and create business connections could already be on the decline,” he says.

Heads of companies believe that course content does not reflect business realities. The cornerstone of an MBA course at a premier school is based on case studies that require intensive interaction between students, teachers and companies, but this contact is diminishing, they say.

“One reason why students from the IIMs are readily employable is because faculty members are in close touch with industry and understand its requirements,” says K S Sundar Ram, an IIM-A alumnus and executive director at auto components company Natesan Synchrocones.

If batch sizes continue to grow, he says, teachers will not have much time for industry contact or research. Some institutes, like ISB, Hyderabad, say they are trying to address the issue by giving weightage to research work that includes publication of papers and industry interaction during annual appraisal of faculty members . “Faculty time is demarcated between teaching, research and administrative matters, with research being given the largest share,” says ISB deputy dean Deepak Chandra.

But company heads say the government must also act and change its policy of inclusivity at the cost of quality. Six new IIM campuses have been set up since 2009, taking the total number to 13 by 2011. As with other premier management institutes that are expanding more rapidly than feasible, inadequate infrastructure is a worry even at the new IIM campuses.

Experts say the government’s mandate to decide the pay of faculty members has also created problems.

“Because of this, IIM-A has been forced to find other ways to supplement compensation and this has led to many unintended consequences ,” says Prafull Anubhai in recently-released book The IIM-A Story.