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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Better faculty in B-schools will benefit future graduates

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SHYAM RANGANATHAN
 
In this interview to EducationPlus, Devi Singh, director, IIM-Lucknow, talks about the proposed Foreign University Bill, economic slowdown, CAT fiasco and the future of management education.


‘The recent online CAT examination has had some problems in the beginning, but it does not mean that it was a failure.'
Management education is fast accepting the challenges thrown in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation to produce more and more young managers for shouldering the task of nation building.
‘The recent online CAT examination has had some problems in the beginning, but it does not mean that it was a failure.'
Management education is fast accepting the challenges thrown in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation to produce more and more young managers for shouldering the task of nation building.


 

 
In the context of the proposed Foreign Universities Bill, what are the steps taken by IIM Lucknow to upgrade its infrastructure and faculty resources? What is your opinion of the Bill? How does it affect IIM-L's current international collaborations?

We do not foresee any impact on IIM Lucknow. As there is really no threat envisaged, so no special steps have been taken to counter the threat.

However, upgrading of infrastructure and faculty resources is a continuous process at IIM Lucknow. With the increase in the number of students, the focus has necessarily been on upgrading the available infrastructure. We are building new hostels and adding to the academic and administrative infrastructure regularly to meet the demand.

To deal with the issue of faculty upgrade and encouraging professors to focus on research, IIM Lucknow has decided to demarcate funds to the tune of several crores to be offered as research grants for its faculty and fellowship programme participants. IIM Lucknow also offers the highest stipend to the students of its Ph.D Program. IIM Lucknow is also planning to start a National Faculty Development Centre at the Noida campus this year. The centre aims at providing development skills to the faculty from other B-schools.

IIM Lucknow has more than 24 international collaborations with leading business schools globally. We do not believe that there will be much impact in the initial years as we do not foresee too many of our partners opening up an Indian campus immediately. Our collaborations are all with the leaders of global education, who have built their academic expertise painstakingly over the years and decades. Replicating the same in India within the next few years does not seem to be an easy option.

How have IIM-L's programmes for government and PSU executives impacted the working of these institutions over the years? What has been the impact of the global economic slowdown on these programmes? How does the recent trend towards recovery change the operations of IIM-L?

The programmes have helped the government and PSU executives to hone their managerial skills so as to be completely in sync with the current global business scenario. The government executives are already experts in their specific domains, but to project them in the global economy there is sometimes a need to sharpen their skills further as well as to be acclimatised with the best global practices.

This is where IIM Lucknow helps them. IIM Lucknow studies the problem areas, if any, and continuously provides the best-of-breed academic inputs that help the middle and senior management cadres at PSUs deliver their best.
The global economic slowdown has not had much impact on the management education in terms of enrolment. It has also not impacted these programmes. In fact, the sluggishness in the economy is an excellent time to focus on upgrading skills. This ensures that when the business gets better, you have the wherewithal to compete globally and showcase your expertise. PSUs have not really cut down their training budgets in the current scenario.

IIM Lucknow has already held three Advanced Management Programme programmes for RBI executives for two weeks — in India, Singapore and Malaysia. A three-month management programme has also been finalised for the next five years with the Railway Board to train more than 100 executives every year. MDPs for PSUs and government bodies continued throughout the time.

What have been the lessons learnt from the recent online CAT? What needs to be changed in the testing patterns for entrance into IIMs? What needs to be changed in the way management is taught?

The recent online CAT examination has had some problems in the beginning, but it does not mean that it was a failure. This was our first attempt at going online at a such a scale and we believe that we have learnt a lot from the glitches that were visible in the CAT this year.

The major cause of the problem was the failure of logistics at various centres. Thus, the organisations working on conducting online CAT examination have to be extra careful and ensure hassle-free conduct of the exam.

The new computer-based CAT examination was most appropriate to tackle the large number of students (which run into lakhs) at the same time.

There was nothing very much to be changed in the testing pattern. We believe that a computerised test is the answer for future as well.

Management education is fast accepting the challenges thrown in the wake of globalisation and liberalisation to produce more and more young managers for shouldering the task of nation-building. The management schools need to focus more on education related to the burning topics of the day, namely, environment, rural management and social inclusiveness. There is a gaping need to create international managers, who are in touch with the realities and not isolated from the issues in the domestic and global scenarios.

We at IIM Lucknow have always made the appropriate changes in our curriculum to keep it as contemporary as possible and this has been an ongoing process since our inception.

What are the measures taken on the National Faculty Development Programme? What will be its impact? What is its future?

IIM Lucknow's National Faculty Development Programme is at an advanced stage of designing. The programme will help the faculty from smaller B-schools to train with the best of the IIM faculty, acquire the best teaching methodologies, map their capabilities and enhance their skills.

The standard of education in B-rung business schools will improve, impacting the skill-sets of fresh management graduates into the job markets.

We believe that it will help in creating better quality students, better quality teaching, skill enhancement and global orientation.

Source: The Hindu
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