Most Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) want to offer degrees and no longer fear that the move may clip their autonomy, the ministry of human resource development asserted on Thursday, insisting that internal divisions - and not the government - were holding the plan back.
Only IIM Ahmedabad director Samir Barua and a few faculty members are opposed to the proposed IIM Act that will enable the country's premier B-schools of offer degrees instead of the diplomas graduates currently earn, education secretary Ashok Thakur said on Thursday.
"All the other IIMs are on board," Thakur said, with HRD minister MM Pallam Raju seated next to him. "In fact, the plan itself is driven by the IIMs. We do not want to thrust anything down their throats."
The IIMs currently offer post graduate diplomas in management, widely recognized in industry as equivalent to the MBA. But several top universities require that applicants to their coveted PhD programmes hold postgraduate degrees - and not just diplomas.
While some universities relax the rule for IIM graduates, others are reluctant to show flexibility.
Multiple panels set up by the HRD ministry, from 2007, have suggested bringing the IIMs under an Act of Parliament, which would allow them to offer degrees. But these proposals - made first by a team under Maruti chief RC Bhargava, and then by another team of experts - have faced strong opposition from critics within the IIM system, who argue that the law is a backdoor attempt by the government to erode their autonomy.
One of the most contentious elements of the proposal involves the creation of an IIM Council, an umbrella body that the institutes feared would set common rules for all the IIMs in a way similar to the IIT Council, which sets fees, salaries and key regulations for all the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
But the IIMs and the government have now decided that the IIM Council - which will consist of institute directors and chairpersons -- will only hold a consulting role. Individual IIMs will continue to hold the authority to set their own fees and take other key decisions, Thakur said.