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There is a great deal of difference between MBA and PGDM in termsof the curriculum offered, industry readiness, application oriented projects and…

Dr. C.N. Narayana
Principal Director, Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies

There is a great deal of difference between MBA and PGDM in termsof the curriculum offered, industry readiness, application oriented projectsand last but not the least the perceived value of PGDM over university MBAs.That’s precisely the reason why Corporate prefer PGDM over MBA offered byUniversities are colleges affiliated to universities. In India, managementeducation is also under regulatory control of AICTE for autonomous businessschools. All private and autonomous Business Schools almost offer PGDM at parwith IIMs. Now, with the new bill proposed by the Ministry of HRD for IIMs (tooffer MBA) other private business schools offering PGDM will have to faceramifications. More than that is the Supreme Court ruling on 25thApril 2013 could have implications on the business education regulatorylandscape of India. A group of Institutions of private colleges and some TamilNadu based private institutes by filing a petition has taken away MBA and MCA(but not PGDM) away from the purview of AICTE stating that these courses arenot technical in nature. Even Deemed to be Universities such as IIFT, SIU,NMIMS may not have an impact by the SC ruling as AICTE plays a negligible rolein administration and they are mostly guided by UGC guidelines.

However, significant amountof private business schools have to get their renewal of AICTE on yearly basisfor their programs in management. This also indicates and underlines minimalrole of AICTE on government-run MBA means they will only play an advisory role.This also raises eyebrows as to how AICTE brought MBA and MCA courses under itsambit from the year 2000, whether amendments were passed in the Parliament(section 24 of the AICTE Act. The appellants’ argument invariably is whether anMBA is really technical course for AICTE to regulate it? However, thiscollateral effect of the ruling is that whether PGDM can be called technical?Most of us will agree it is not. If so why should it be vetted by the AICTE?

Interestingly, the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT)conducted by AICTE is also not mandatory to use for university offered MBAprograms. Means, there is a fair amount of autonomy given even to universities.Private and Autonomous business schools which normally invests heavily oninfrastructure, quality faculty, alliances, tie-ups can no way get affiliatedto universities and they must be given power to use their autonomy as thiscountry needs quality, skilled PGDM outputs. Any move by MHRD and thegovernment with excessive control regime through AICTE or UGC or affiliation touniversities will only bring down the quality of PGDM. But the biggest issuewhich hangs over every private Business School offering PGDM is AICTE renewal.EPSI is fighting for the past of couple of years for a common cause to get therenewal extended for AICTE approval.

The question to be asked very seriously by the government is- whythese Institutes are under the mercy of AICTE till last minute? Why the bodywhich represents autonomous business schools offering PGDM should be underconstant confusion? Business Schools are already struggling with placements andthe cyclical effect on admission etc after investing on infrastructure andfaculty and staff recruitment. These institutes have to incur legal expenditurefor fighting the case through EPSI. It is high time that the proactivegovernment like this must give full autonomy to PGDM institutes to focus onquality rather than controlling the same on regulatory framework. It is notnecessary that standards are always driven through regulations and controls butit can be promoted through accreditation both national and international. Justby extending the approval year after year instead of taking a call once forall, the government is just delaying a decision, which may not be good for thiscountry. The stalemate between UGC and AICTE as to who should regulate putsenormous pressure on autonomous institutions proving post graduate diploma inManagement (PGDM) as they need to plan out their admission process andapprovals to be declared well in advance. These institutes have to mention thatthey are approved by AICTE and then await court hearing for extension (thisyear the it was given on the 4th of December 2015) when EPSIpresented the case to the court. Stay order and extension cannot be thesolution to Business schools. If the earlier verdict ofMBA course not being technical within the definition of AICTE Act and if isonly advisory in nature, is there any other regulatory body other than AICTEand UGC. Especially, when IIM bill is in the process, when they go out of ambitof any such regulation what is the fate of autonomous business schools whichwere established based on autonomy of business schools and quality education.

Thus, institutes not affiliated touniversities are autonomous and need AICTE’s permission for expansion,introducing new courses, programs – As PGDM institutes do not fall under thestate’s purview and now not even under AICTE’s purview, then who sets standardsfor us? The regulatory vacuum will only result in deterioration of thesituation amongst PGDM offering autonomous institutes. With the new leadershipin the centre and AICTE which delivered reasonably well in the past two decadescompared to UGC, must be considerate and look at better way of promotingquality PGDM instead of regulation alone. Let us not create a sense of euphoriaand confusion with regard to PGDM and create complexity in higher managementeducation. This kind of chaos will also dissuade foreign alliances of businessschools, which has high potential to make our management graduates to beglobally ready. The role and the efficacy of regulatory bodies are always inquestion but the clarity of who is at the helm of affairs for PGDM andautonomous business school must be very clear, only then these business schoolscan look at growth trajectory.