Budget 2019-20: Autonomy will also allow B-schools to internationalise faster. Providing admission to foreign students is expected to become easier.
Union Budget 2019 India: In her maiden Budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the roll-out of the Study in India scheme. If implemented properly in due course, it could be a game-changer for business schools in India. Currently, estimates indicate that around 50,000 foreign students study in India, whereas 2,50,000 Indian students are enrolled abroad. Even trying to bring these numbers to parity means an influx of 2,00,000 foreign students in our higher education institutions, some of which will filter down to our B-schools. It is not clear yet how the government plans to implement this scheme, but it seems the government is on the right track.
The finance minister mentioned the presence of three Indian institutions in the QS Top 200 World University rankings. This goes to indicate the government’s renewed push towards driving the country’s institutions to catch up with, and surpass, their global peers. Such global rankings focus heavily on internationalisation, infrastructure, research and job outcomes for students. If the Rs 400 crore set aside by the government in this Budget for world-class higher education institutions is used in this direction, it will yield massive dividends.
But if the government reserves funding only for its own institutions, then the B-school sector as a whole will face lopsided growth. This will be the second major hit the private B-school sector will face, the first one being the IIM Bill, followed by granting IIMs the power to award MBAs while limiting private B-Schools to grant PGDMs. Details on allocation will decide whether this funding is a hit or a miss.
The Budget also talked about setting up the National Research Foundation, which will focus on promoting R&D in the higher education ecosystem. Funds allocated for research activities across ministries will be merged and controlled via this entity. It will ensure quicker funding of research projects and will also allow cross-disciplinary projects to be funded easily.
The proposal to set up a new Higher Education Commission, with a focus on increasing autonomy of higher education institutions, is a welcome move.
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More autonomy will allow B-schools to use diverse learning models to cater to the demand of the market. It will also allow leading B-schools to internationalise faster. Providing admission to foreign students is expected to become easier, as also hiring full-time international faculty members. This should help B-schools gain faster accreditation by international agencies, such as AACSB and EQUIS, resulting in a virtuous cycle of internationalisation and improvement in rankings.
(The author is assistant professor, Accounting & Finance Area, MDI Gurgaon. Views are personal