10 Jul 2020 18:46 IST

Despite student wariness of online, B-schools expect steady admissions

Expect clear picture by August second week; IIMs say not impacted

The apprehensions in the mind of students regarding the effectiveness and structure of the curriculum to be delivered on online channel notwithstanding, B-schools are hopeful of getting steady enrolments for their flagship two-year MBA programme this academic year.

However, a clear picture is likely to emerge only by the second week of August, by when the institutes have to complete the admission process as per AICTE guidelines.

While a number of management schools including IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) suggested that they have received several queries from aspiring candidates about the nature and content of programme to be delivered online, however, that has not affected the process of admissions so far.

The admission process, which is usually complete by April-May, is yet to be completed across many major B-schools due to the lockdown imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Classes, which usually commence by June, are now expected to start from the first week of August, and will primarily be conducted on online mode.

Lower enrolments

According to Arindam Banik, Director, International Management Institute (IMI), Kolkata, enrolments could be lower this year across a number of private management institutes as many students may not be very comfortable taking the course on the online platform. Moreover, the current uncertainty around the pandemic may also make them apprehensive about travelling from their place of origin to another city, as and when the offline classes begin.

“A number of students actually travel from various cities and towns to the place where the college is situated. But given the current circumstances they may not be very comfortable doing so until there is a vaccine or a definite treatment which is available,” Banik told BusinessLine.

There have been some cases where aspirants who presently have good jobs in hand, have postponed their decision to join a full-time MBA programme for a year, said Rakesh Shrivastava, Professor- Operations Management and Admissions Chairman, Goa Institute of Management.

Delay in admissions

According to Megha Sharma, Chairperson Admissions, IIM Calcutta, the batch size for the MBA 2020-22 is 480. While the admission process is still ongoing, nearly 90 per cent of the admission offers have already been accepted.

“The pandemic did pose a major challenge for us, since the resulting lockdown in the country started when our interview process was ongoing. In order to maintain fairness and consistency among all the candidates interviewed, the institute decided to not consider the weightage given to the Written Ability Test for the final selection,” Sharma said.

The institutes which have completed the admission process claim that they have not only been able to fill up their total capacity but also have a good number of candidates on the waiting list.

A number of B-schools have given an extended timeline for final registrations and fee payment in the light of the pandemic.

Online classes may lack flavour

Candidates who enroll themselves for management education at top B-schools look forward to the overall experience the MBA programme offers including group learning and case studies. Many feel that all this may be lacking in the online platform.

The AICTE’s revised Academic Calendar for technical institutions for 2020-21 suggests that classes may be started in online or offline (class room) or blended mode (online + offline) following the prescribed protocols and guidelines related to Covid-19.

However, most institutes are planning to conduct their first semester in the online mode.

Given that a typical MBA batch comprises students from all over the country, it might be difficult to ensure a ‘good bandwidth and connectivity’ for all of them alike.

“Some students may be sharp and can grab whatever is taught quickly, however, a majority might find it difficult as they lack interaction with peers. Moreover, this will lead to a greater digital divide,” Banik pointed out.

Global situation

However, Ishita Kundu, Head of Admissions and Marketing, IMT Group, feels that though some students may have apprehensions, however, most of them would be “intelligent enough” to understand that it is a situation globally and not unique to any particular B-school.

IIM Sambalpur, which claims to have put in place a robust online platform, will not only assign group tasks but will also connect with the industry so as to enable students to discuss live projects, Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director of the institute, said.

IIM Shillong is planning to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach. “The main essence of an MBA programme is the peer learning and group networking and without those a student cannot get the real feel of the programme. Hence we are planning to wait till September to see if we can have them on the campus. But if that doesn’t happen then we will go for online classes,” Sharad Nath Bhattacharya, Admissions Chairperson, IIM Shillong, said.