Out of all the degrees offered world wide, an MBA is the most sought after degree. According to the AACSB, USA there are more than 13,000 management institutions in the whole world which are granting management degrees at under-graduates and post-graduate levels. Asian countries account for 6500 institutions out of these 13,000 odd institutions. According to the AICTE, currently India has 3,900 management institutes offering MBA./PGDM programmes which are approved by the regulator i.e. AICTE.

Numerically, Indian management education may be perceived big at global level, but we have serious challenges related to quality, research, faculty, infrastructure, industry linkages and employability. In some of the global rankings of b-schools, mostly ISB, Hyderabad and IIM, Ahmadabad are counted among the top 20. In spite of these limitations, can we make India a hub for management education? During the last 20 years, countries like Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE, Spain and France have been successful to a large extent in attracting MBA aspirants from all over the world.

Success stories of Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong are not very old. Taking a cue from these recent success stories, India can aim at becoming a hub for management education and attract MBA aspirants from all over the world. It cannot be achieved overnight but will require concerted efforts from on the part of the Union Government, AICTE, industry bodies and management institutions. National level associations like AIMS, EPSI and AIMA can also lend their support to this endeavour.

If we have to make India a global hub for management education, a beginning can be made by identifying top 100 management institutions providing quality education with good faculty and infrastructure. These top 100 institutions can join hands together and form a consortium to market brand “India MBA” in select 50 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. They will have to formulate “Vision 2021” for Indian Management Education which will stratise collective efforts in upgrading quality of Indian institution according to the global trends.

AICTE was envisioned to play a role of a catalyst regulatory body catering to the burgeoning manpower needs of the Indian economy in the post-liberalization era. Instead of fulfilling this role, it has become a ‘Kamdhenu’ for the nexus of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen helping each other in making quick money through setting up more and more technical institutions. All norms for infrastructure, faculty, and curriculum have been flouted. Institutions have been allowed to be set up in difficult and remote locations, far away from industries. AICTE has given licenses to set up thousands of management institutions without any reference to the actual manpower needs of industry.

Business education under AICTE’s control has grown mostly as a channel to make quick profits rather than as a serious attempt to groom managers suitable for the Indian and global economy. Exponential growth of B-schools during 1995-2011 has resulted in the increased supply of MBAs/PGDMs, far in excess of actual industry demand.

Growth of B-schools in India during 1950-2011

Period No. of B-schools added>

Average Annual Addition
1950-80 (30 yrs) 118 4
1980-1995 (15 yrs) 304 20
1995-2000 (5 yrs) 322 64
2000-2006 (6 yrs) 1017 169
2006-2011 (5 yrs) 2883 577

Period No. of B-schools added Average Annual Addition

It can be observed from the above statistics that AICTE allowed a mindless expansion of B-schools during 2006-11, a period under which both the global and Indian economies witnessed severe recession and a slump in demand for MBAs. It is owing to the faulty working of AICTE that we are now on the verge of a “B-schools’ Bubble burst”. It has already started and according to a statement of AICTE’s Chairman, Dr SS Mantha, 65 B-schools are under closure. The Times of India has recently reported that 3 lakh seats of engineering and management courses could not be filled up during 2011-12.

The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has noted the failure of AICTE in its regulatory role and suggested disbanding of both AICTE and UGC. The NKC Report (2007-09) states that “NKC advocates good governance rather than the prevalent system of prior control being exercised by AICTE in this sphere. The current regulatory regime focuses on punitive action rather than nurturing institutions”.

The role of AICTE has also been criticized by industry bodies for its failure to develop technical education in tune with changes in the industry, society and the global economy. FICCI, in its report on the Regulatory Framework for Technical Education, has said “AICTE has not been able to manage the multiple functions bestowed upon it as per its statutory mandate”. FICCI has recommended that AICTE be dissolved and NCHER should be set up with an objective of minimum regulatory interference and flexible norms for the functioning of institutes.

A New Role for the Regulator?

Nobody knows the future of AICTE since MHRD has been trying to merge it with the proposed NCHER. Much will depend on the dynamics of the Indian parliament when the NCHER Bill is introduced by MHRD. However, we need an effective regulator for higher education which includes management education also. Definitely, in the current environment, a regulator will not be expected to behave like an autocrat with a lot of punitive powers in its hand.

A good regulator of B-schools should be a professional agency having a positive mindset, equipped with trained professionals having the latest knowledge in management education and also having linkage with the Indian and global business through industry bodies and professional associations. It should be managed by eminent management academicians and industry professionals. They should develop a vision and mission for Indian B -schools based on a comprehensive survey of global business education. The regulator should establish relationships with Ivy League B -schools and international accreditation bodies like AACSB, EFMD and AMBA.

The question will arise about what should be the mandate for the regulator. Should it confine itself to developmental, nurturing roles or it should also wield punitive powers against those B-schools which do not fulfil promises made to the regulator, students and recruiters? Should the regulator provide a broad framework of business education and then leave it to the B-schools to work within that framework with scope for a lot of freedom, experimentation and innovation? There are different models of B -schools regulations in the world. Should we emulate models of developed nations where the independent accreditation agencies ultimately decide what is right and what is wrong for management education?

For next 10 years, whosoever is the regulator of Indian B-schools, can play the role of a gardner who does everything starting from seedling, planting, watering and pruning -allowing every plant to grow and every flower to blossom to their truest potential. AICTE, NCHER or any other agency designated for the regulation of B-schools can develop a new model of governance of institutions which is in sync with the current Indian and global realities.

Since almost all B-schools face shortage of good faculty always the regulator can establish 20 Faculty Development Centers (FDCs) for undertaking variety of activities in providing continuing education to faculty of B-schools. In twenty biggest clusters of management education viz. Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Noida, Indore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kolkata, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Trivandrum, Guwahati etc, FDCs can be set up. Each FDC can be attached with a reputed and well established B-school whose faculty will offer training programmes and Ph.D. programme to the faculty of B-schools in the neighbouring areas. These FDCs can produce 200 Ph.Ds and train 10,000 faculty members every year. Within the next 10 years, 2000 young faculty can be groomed to qualify for Ph.D. degree by these FDCs.

To meet the challenges of globalization, Indian B-schools have to adopt latest technology and go for internationalization. Both these imperatives are difficult, time consuming and require huge funds. Individually, many B-schools may not be able to invest hefty investment on high cost technology and international accreditation.

The regulator can also play a very constructive role in helping Indian B-schools to attract students from Asia, Africa and even from Europe and America. The Ministry of External Affairs and the MHRD can join hands to use our embassies for promoting Indian B-schools in these markets. Of course, we will have to work hard in augmenting infrastructure of top 100 B-schools where foreign students can live and study comfortably. India has all ingredients to become hub of higher education in management, engineering and medical sciences. If Singapore, UAE and Malaysia can become hubs for higher education, India can also attract lacs of students in management and other disciplines.