The landscape of business education in India is set to change considerably. Union Minister Kapil Sibal’s proposal of the Foreign Educational Institution Bill can open the gates for top-ranking international business schools to set up shop in the country.
For over 150,000 successful MBA applicants out of the 500,000 or so that apply to India’s MBA programmes each year, the ensuing competition is good news. The influx of international business schools looking to create a base here shows the demand for MBA education in the country is phenomenal. However, it remains to be seen how this will affect existing local institutions.
For years, Indian business schools have struggled to attract international students to enroll in their MBA programmes. While greater competition should bring in greater educational offerings for both students and their employers, there is a worry that international students looking at India as a potential MBA destination, may opt to apply for a business school ‘brand’ that they are more familiar with, perhaps a foreign school based in India, but originally from their home region that both they and their future employers will know and trust.
Greater internationalisation is the biggest issue that Indian business schools need to work on in order to compete on a global scale. Top-ranked Indian business schools regularly report non-Indian representation of their class-size at below five per cent. In some institutions, there is not a single student from outside lndia enrolled in their MBA programmes.
In a rapidly evolving international world of business, where India is becoming a dominant global financial force, it is worrying that those trained locally to be the country’s future business leaders are receiving little international management exposure during their MBA education. Employers are also concerned.
In the QS Global 200 Business School Report, released at the end of November and compiled entirely on employer opinion of MBA graduates from worldwide institutions, Indian business schools have performed extremely well. However, when rated by 10 different industry specialisations, international management is the only area where an Indian business school does not appear in the top 25 — a telling result that while employers recognise the skill sets and ability of MBA graduates from India’s well-respected business schools; their lack of international exposure during the study course results in an inability to operate on an international scale.
In its mission to improve the internationalisation of its MBA intake, the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, recently joined forces with three other Asian business schools in order to pool their international student recruitment resources. Named the Asia4, the group consists of China Europe International Business School, based in Shanghai, China; HKUST Business School in Hong Kong; Nanyang Business School in Singapore; and ISB.
As financial dominance gradually shifts from the West to the East, spurred on by the ongoing economic events in Europe, it is initiatives such as this that will place Indian business schools on the world map, as MBA applicants from around the globe begin to see India’s business schools as an alternative to the traditional MBA hubs of Europe and North America.
In this scenario, encouraging greater class diversity is of utmost importance to India’s institutes, if the country is to become an international education destination, rather than what is currently an area dominated by local consumers.