The battle ahead for PGDM institutions

The confusion over the legal status of PGDM (Postgraduate Diploma in Management) institutions has been settled, at least for now. With the Supreme Court declaring the AICTE as the regulator for admissions 2014-15, the 300-odd PGDM B-schools in the country have heaved a sigh of relief.

How it started
This is not the first time that the autonomy of PGDM institutions has become a national issue as a similar situation arose in December 2010. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) at that time issued a notification under which autonomy of PGDM institutions with regards to admission, curriculum framing, evaluation, fee fixing and governance was proposed to be withdrawn.

“Since it had spelt disaster for the vibrancy of PGDM programme, all PGDM institutions had to approach the Supreme Court in the matter,” says Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternate president, Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), a confederation of private business schools which filed the interim application in the Supreme Court and has been fighting for the autonomy issue of PGDM institutions.
The court in its four interim orders issued on March 17, 2011, July 26, 2011, March 1, 2012 and August 28, 2013 restored the status quo and stayed AICTE’s notification (2010).

“Partly due to regulatory impasse, which has confused the students’ community about the status of PGDM B-schools, more than 200 B-schools have closed down in the last three years. This comes at a time when employment generation and skill development is a top national priority. In the last nine months, many key developments have happened, which are a further setback to PGDM institutions,” says Chaturvedi.

On April 25, 2013 the Supreme Court ordered that management education is no longer a part of AICTE’s domain. Subsequently, on December 3, 2013, the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a notification which attempted to bring PGDM B-schools into its ambit. “On our protest, we were excluded by UGC. Given the regulatory vacuum, that threatened our existence, EPSI moved the Supreme Court to advise who will regulate PGDM,” he says.

Temporary relief for PGDM institutions
The court asked AICTE if it had any objections to regulating PGDM. Upon AICTE’s consent, the court ruled on January 16, 2014, that AICTE be the regulator for admissions in the 2014-15 academic year. In compliance with this order, the AICTE issued a notification last week inviting applications from existing PGDM/diploma/PG diploma-level institutions other than those affiliated to the university for 2014-15.

The issue, however, has been resolved temporarily, says Chaturvedi. “While AICTE is our statutory regulator, currently it has been allowed by the court to act as regulator only for the next academic year. Today, the progress of 300 PGDM B-schools has virtually come to a standstill. Owing to a regulatory flux, they are unable to make any long-term investments and plans. Parents and students are skeptical about joining PGDM B-schools fearing that the future of these institutions is not safe.
This is not in the interest of the future growth of management education and also likely to hamper the supply of managerial talent to the industry,” adds Chaturvedi.
EPSI has now approached human resources development minister Pallam Raju to push for a long-term solution to the issue. The body has requested the HRD minister to allow the AICTE to be reinstated as a permanent regulator for management and PGDM education. “PGDM B-schools have done well under the regulatory regime of AICTE. We wish to continue to work with AICTE. However, we seek a more enabling regulator, which understands our concerns, and enables our growth,” says Chaturvedi.

They have also requested the HRD minister to advise AICTE to withdraw its December 2010 notification under which autonomy of PGDM institutions with regards to admission, curriculum framing, evaluation, fee fixing and governance was proposed to be withdrawn. Other concerns put forth by EPSI include ensuring legal validity of PGDM diploma in light of the IIM University Bill, and empowering the All India Board of Management Studies at AICTE.

Pushing for autonomy
Some of the major PGDM institutions such as XLRI, Jamshedpur and International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi want a practical and long-term solution to the issue. “If the IIMs can get an autonomous status, why can’t we? In most reputable rankings across the country, we are even ahead of most IIMs and have the status of a centre of excellence. Getting approval from a regulator annually is a cumbersome process,” says Fr E Abraham, director of XLRI, Jamshedpur.

Pritam Singh, director-general IMI, agrees. “The AICTE should continue to regulate PGDM schools but it should also promote them. It can be quite humiliating for an institution that has been globally recognised and accredited to get the approval from AICTE year after year. Besides autonomy for such PGDM institutions, they should also be given approval by a body like AICTE for a longer duration,” he says.


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