Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on April 20, 2010
The Indian government is considering liberalization of higher education in the country, a move that would allow foreign universities to establish campuses in India. Check out this story from Monday’s Financial Times for more on the proposed changes. One angle that story misses: How the proposed reforms could help local schools. Consider one problem faced by the Indian School of Business, the B-school based in Hyderabad that is partners with Wharton and Kellogg and has just announced an alliance with Sloan. (For more on ISB, look at my story about the school in the current issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek here.) Since ISB isn’t affiliated with a university, it can’t give MBAs to its graduates. Indian students don’t mind: Most of the other top B-schools in India can’t give MBAs either, and everybody knows that the piece of paper you get from ISB is an MBA in everything but name.
Still, the lack of MBAs makes it difficult for ISB to attract students from outside the country whose friends and family members and would-be employers aren’t quite so understanding. Not being able to offer MBAs “does make a difference when you are trying to attract international students, particularly students from the Asian region,” deputy dean Savita Mahajan told me recently in an interview in her Hyderabad office. “That has been a challenge for us. When you go to Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, China, they are more conscious of the [MBA] label.”
ISB’s Dean, Ajit Rangnekar, says he’s hopeful that the proposed education reforms could eliminate the problem, allowing ISB and others to grant MBAs. That would make the school more competitive in recruiting students. Non-Indian students currently make up only about 5% of the student body, says Mahajan. “We will truly be in that [top] league only once we are able to get international students,” she says. “That’s one of our biggest drawbacks now.”