The Telegraph - MBA: No Shine Anymore

01 Feb 2016


An MBA degree is passé. Fewer recruiters are hitting business school campuses. So a group of expert educators have made radical recommendations to the government, says Avijit Chatterjee

Arnab Sengupta, a third-year BCom student at a leading commerce college in Calcutta, is not interested in treading the beaten path, which a few years earlier meant taking tuitions to ace the Common Admission Test (CAT) -the gateway to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other leading business schools in India.

Arnab would rather focus his energies on cracking the chartered accountancy exam, which he thinks has "much more value and prestige" attached to it.

Increasingly many youngsters are giving the management exams a miss. So has the MBA - the passport to fame and fortune - really lost its allure?

Certainly, the herdlike rush to acquire an MBA is over. "Students are thinking a little before they take a call on an MBA as a degree option," notes Charanpreet Singh, associate dean, Praxis Business School (PBS), Calcutta. So an MBA has dropped from the "only option" to a "considered or evaluated option".

Registration figures for CAT further buttress this point. For the second consecutive year, the IIMs had to extend the registration window for CAT 2016. Only 183,032 students - one of the lowest in the past few years - registered for CAT 2016 on September 20 last year, the original deadline for registration, forcing the IIMs, which conduct the exam, to extend the deadline by five more days. As a result, the registration figure rose to 218,664. But this was still a far cry from the 2008 registration figure of around 3 lakh candidates. Around 195,943 applicants enrolled for CAT 2015.

Singh attributes students' disenchantment with an MBA to a number of factors - the proliferation of B-schools of less than ordinary quality combined with soaring fees; the economic downturn of 2008-2009 which put a sudden stop to the great Indian placement story; and finally, the availability of social media platforms that exposed the inadequacies of the army of B-schools that had been set up. "Students who have had unrewarding experiences at such institutes discourage others from pursuing management education," he says.

Recently, a task force appointed by the All India Management Association (AIMA) and consisting of B-school heads, CEOs and consultants analysed the state of management education in the country, flagged the areas of concern, and recommended action for all stakeholders in management education. The task force's report has been presented to the secretary, department of higher education, ministry of human resource development, for shaping the government's policy on management education.

AIMA director general Rekha Sethi agrees that the MBA degree may have lost some of its lustre but feels it is still one of the most sought-after degrees. "However, the proliferation of B-schools and flawed regulation have led to some dilution of quality of both the faculty and the students," she states.