25 Apr 2016 16:00 IST

‘BIMTECH will spend ₹5 cr to improve quality of education’

Director says the institute is looking to get AACSB acreditation, the gold standard for B-schools

“We will be spending more than ₹5 crore to improve the quality of education and infrastructure we offer to attain the AACSB accreditation,” says Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director of the Greater Noida-based Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH). AACSB is the gold standard and the acquiring the accreditation will increase BIMTECH’s access to B-Schools across the world, he adds. Chaturvedi spoke to BLoC about the AACSB accreditation, fee regulations, autonomy and more. Excerpts:

Have you managed to attract good faculty at BIMTECH?

We have been successful in getting good faculty. It has taken us over 10 years to reach the level of 60 permanent faculty members. We focus on providing them with a better research environment and intellectual freedom. The teaching load is restricted and much emphasis is on faculty research. The attrition rate is very less. Faculty crunch is faced by institutions which are not able to pay competitive salaries and perks.

Are you looking to get any international accreditation?

About 20 institutions from India, including the IIMs, are trying to get the AACSB accreditation. We are one of them and we received first stage clearance last year. AACSB is the gold standard when it comes to accreditations for management institutes. And a lot of quality improvement is required to reach the AACSB standards. So, out of the 20 institutions applying, 10 are likely to get the accreditation in the next five years. These institutes will have greater access when it comes to management education worldwide. So far only 770 business schools out of 15,000 institutes have the AACSB accreditation, out of which only 70 are in Asia.

Is BIMTECH geared to fulfil the quality standards/criteria set by AACSB for accreditation?

We are trying to be an international institution for which we need to spend a lot on quality. BIMTECH is trying to get the AACSB accreditation, which is an extremely arduous and long process for which we will be spending around ₹5 crore to raise the quality of education and infrastructure that we offer.

Why is autonomy important for private B-Schools?

We are with the government if they want to improve the quality and accountability, but this cannot be achieved until good institutions are given full autonomy. BIMTECH was started 28 years ago but is given the same treatment that a newly-started institution would receive. A good management institution offering high-quality management education serves the society by imparting quality education. We are not in the business of profit making.

AICTE is not judging the quality of institution by its outcome but is looking at inputs only by just counting physical infrastructure. These are not the true determinants of an institution’s quality, the human element is. The faculty, students and governance determines the quality of institutions. The quality of placements, knowledge gained by the students, and the kind of research carried out by faculty are the outcomes of a business school. The government has no mechanism to evaluate the outcomes of a business school.

How can the government ensure the quality of education in private management institutes?

According to the AICTE review committee there are three methods of evaluating quality. One is accreditation, second is rankings, and then ratings. They should be applying that method but the execution has been so slow that hardly 20 per cent of the institutions are accredited. The National Board of Accreditation has been working for last 20 years but has managed to accredit a very small number of programmes because they have limited manpower and are dependent of experts.

EPSI has been asking the government to let the accreditation be done by independent agencies. If our country has 50,000 colleges, we cannot wait for decades for accreditation of these colleges. During the last 20 years just 15 per cent of the institutes and 20 per cent of the universities have been accredited. The government should decide on the framework of accreditation and invite industry bodies like FICCI, CII, AIMA and EPSI to come together and create the framework.

As the President of EPSI what are your views on the BN Srikrishna committee report which recommends a fee cap on management programmes?

The Justice Srikrishna report is full of confusions and portrays poor knowledge of management education in India. If you see the list of people whose opinions they have considered, none of the directors or educationists from top private business schools feature on the list.

Also, technicalities have not been dealt with precision in the report. For instance, they have allocated ₹50,000 yearly for online journals, but, that amount will be spent even if we buy an online subscription of Harvard Business Review only. Good institutions are already spending more than ₹20 lakh annually on these online journals.

In the TMA Pai Foundation & Others versus State of Karnataka & Others case of 31 October, 2002, the Supreme Court had mentioned in its judgement that private self-financed institutions can decide their own, except they should not resort to profiteering and charging capitation fees. And none of the good private institutes are doing that, then why such a regulation?

Also, IIM Ahmedabad has increased its fees up to ₹19.5 lakh for a two-year programme. IITs have increased the fees by 200 per cent. In these institutions capital investment has been made by the Centre. Whereas, private institutions receive the capital investments by industry people like Birlas (for BIMTECH). The industry expects these institutes to run on their own resources once the capital investment has been made.

If a fee cap is announced some of the industrialist may just stop investing in the institutions of quality education.

The recommendations of the Srikrishna committee has been accepted in totum but no formal communication has come so far. Will you comply, if these regulations come into effect?

We are going to oppose it democratically and legally. We will meet the MHRD Minister. Putting a cap on the fees will be a disaster for the Prime Minister’s Make In India campaign. To make the campaign successful, you need talented managers who come from the top B-schools, not the mediocre ones. Top institutes like XLRI, SPJIMR, BIMTECH, and IMT have evolved during last 30-40 years and are providing quality education.

At the same time, in an open market the quality of a service, solution or product is determined by its price. The customers will only buy things that will satisfy them in an open economy. Similarly, self-financing institutions are not taking any money from the government and are quoting a fees. Thus, a student has a choice to opt for the institute of his/her choice, and hence, choose to pay accordingly.

If in India, the government doesn't fix the price of treatment in top private hospitals like Medanta and Apollo, why fix it for post-graduate education.