FE Editorial : Case study gone wrong

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Jan 30 2011, 03:44am hrs
In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad, said Friedrich Nietzsche. And it seems the government is working to live up to this ideal. The All India Council for Technical Educations (AICTE) latest notification placing restrictions on the length of MBA programmes that business schools are allowed to run, the curriculum, fee structures and admission criteria have raised the hackles of the administrations at B-schools. AICTEs new regulations, aimed at regularising MBA admissions and curriculum, essentially serve to limit the independence of B-schools that run post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM) programmes. B-school associations, which together have over 750 institutions under them, have decided to challenge these stipulations in court. Although not all the guidelines are badhaving a standardised test to ensure a fair level playing field across schools may actually be a good plan. But instead of using it as a barrier to entry, the schools may do well to consider using it like American schools use the GMAT, as one of the many predictors of success among applicants.

The idea of defining the duration of an MBA programme is ludicrouswhy is 24 months any more effective than the 21 months that an MBA at Harvard Business School runs That the schools cannot decide their own fee structures, according to the guidelines, is another major stumbling block. Higher education institutes, even the illustrious IITs, are perpetually starved of fundsa recent petition by the IITs to raise fees was politely turned down by the HRD under the garb of inclusive education. In such circumstances, giving states control over what schools can and cannot charge is an example of the environment of over-regulation that exists in India, recently highlighted in the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy report. But the most serious issue of all, with the AICTEs notification, is the section of designing a common syllabus/curriculum model. MBA programme are designed to encourage critical thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, original thought... none of which can be put under the umbrella of one size fits all. Attempting to have a common syllabus, therefore, is facetious. Given that only ISB and IIM-A (of which ISB is independent of government) feature in international rankings, it appears that government intervention, when it only serves to standardise and sanitise without understanding the nuances of education, becomes the tipping point between mediocrity and even more mediocrity.