A colleague posed an intriguing question to me: “My friend’s son is enquiring about IIM Indore’s new 5-year integrated programme in management? Is it a good course?”
So, I did a quick Google search, and this headline caught my eye: “Now, get admission into IIM directly after Class 12!” I can understand why many parents would find this prospect, scintillating. The IIMs have been music to ones’ ears for decades.
In the gold rush before the sub-prime crisis, bright 22-years olds with little job-readiness, were offered mammoth salaries (in turn, leading to larger than life chip on the shoulder!). No doubt companies seek fresh talent they can groom, but something about this scenario seemed imbalanced and unsustainable. And the proof lies in the pudding.
In 2013, the number of IIMs has risen to 13. Salaries have plummeted, quality of job profiles is questionable and the number of placement offers have decreased. This seems a natural progression from the unreasonably fat packages on offer before 2008.
Coming back to my colleague’s question, I began to ponder: What is the virtue of “learning” management in the classroom for five years, even if you throw in internships and international exposure?
Typically, students pursue a three-year BBA, followed by an MBA, or a five-year integrated management programme akin to IIM Indore’s offering. In the latter, electives are offered in three domains: Science, Social Sciences and Perfoming Arts, alongside the compulsory core management subjects, and languages (one foreign and one Indian), and soft skills.
But the likelihood of one becoming a great manager after “learning” management for five years of your life, seems doubtful to me.
And while, I consider electives of utmost importance in higher education, there is a certain virtue in being thorough in one domain (engineering/ design/ English Literature/ anthropology, et al), while grooming your management skills and pursuing complementary or unrelated electives, on the side.
An up and coming private university up North, in fact, combines electives beautifully.
A BS Economics student here, can choose Math as a minor, a combo relevant to the Business Forecasting and Analyst profession. A mechanical engineering student can choose ‘Computers’ as a minor, if say, he wants to become a Robotics and Controls specialist, someday.
Incidentally, a Mathematician can also nurture the poet within!
This approach of expanding one’s knowledge and skill set beyond one’s core domain could be a good way to curb future professionals from working in silos by nurturing a practice that requires one to pool in the wisdom of multiple disciplines to arrive at the best solution in the real world.
My only grouse about the private university, which combines electives beautifully is that it also offers BBA programme, one that is not three but of fours years’ duration!
This is worrying, because my general understanding of the BBA is that it is a rather “hollow” degree, which teaches no concrete domain skills and is rather generic in nature. After three/ four years, students are being offered sub-standard office jobs, which is not surprising. After all, can one really expect 20-year olds, with no life experience, let alone work experience, to “manage” something big when they can barely manage themselves? (with no offense to them).
Hence, in my view the slew of UG “management” programmes springing up in so many colleges, is a slightly disturbing trend. They are merely churning out a workforce with generic skills, which do not give these youth any edge in the job market.
Additionally, the BBA has whatsoever no bearing in the MBA selection process, unlike in other disciplines, where the UG degree in that subject or related one, is a prerequisite to be eligible for the Master’s programme.
Of course, the five-year integrated management programme was also conceptualised to ensure an MBA seat. Coming back to the one offered by IIM Indore, I suspect it aims to give private institutes that offer an integrated BBA-MBA, a run for their money.The cost of the course is 19 lakhs (not including lodging and board), while the cost of an integrated management course at a prominent up and coming private university, is Rs 23 lakhs (includes lodging and board)!
I suppose one has to wait and watch the trajectory of this course in the job market. But we still need to ponder my earlier question: Should students with no experience and domain expertise, have any business spending five years in a classroom, “learning” management?
My two cents!