Students of Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal, for postgraduate diplomas in management in 2015, were in for a surprise when they received the institute’s postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) handbook. It said failure to secure 4.4 CGPA (Cumulative Grade Points Average, the average of grade points scored in all subjects) in the first term would mean cancellation of their admission.
The standard practice in institutes is to evaluate students’ performance on the basis of three terms spread throughout the year. Those failing to get the required CGPA in their year-end score have to be readmitted in a new batch.
Students allege that TAPMI made the handbook available to them only after they took admission and paid the full year’s fee of Rs 8.5 lakh. More trouble was in store for those who couldn’t score 4.4 CGPA in the first term as TAPMI asked them not only to withdraw from the institute but also to repeat the course next year or lose the full first year’s fee of Rs 8.5 lakh. Those wanting to repeat the first term were asked to pay an additional amount of Rs 2 lakh. Surprisingly, these details were not mentioned in the handbook.
Students from older TAPMI batches have similar complaints. “I had scored close to 4.4 CGPA in the first term but the institute asked me to either repeat the full year or leave. My CGPA scores were low because I was not well and missed one of the lectures. The institute enforces 100% attendance, another factor which determines the CGPA. I opted to leave the institute and join another in 2015. The institute did not return the full year’s fee of Rs 8.5 lakh to me,” says a student who had joined TAPMI in 2014. One of the (approximately) 10 students who had not cleared the first semester in 2014 said he had “paid the additional amount of Rs 2 lakh for readmission in 2015.”
When contacted, RC Natarajan, director, TAPMI, admitted that all students failing to score 4.4 CGPA have to discontinue their studies and the full year’s fee is not returned to them. However, he contradicted the students’ statement about being informed about the CGPA rule only after securing admission at TAPMI. “This is brought to the knowledge of the students and their parents at the time of admission. Our rules are in consonance with the prevailing practice in other prestigious management institutes. After knowing these rules when students opt to join our institute, they impliedly and expressly agree to abide by the same,” he said.
Asked why the information was not available on the TAPMI website, Natarajan’s response was: “Not every aspect is put on the website.” The institute’s website, surprisingly, informs students that “At the end of the first year, a student who doesn’t meet the minimum standard is asked to withdraw from the programme.”
Natarajan also refused to share data on the number of students failing to score 4.4 CGPA in the first semester, saying, “The number of students failing in different terms is not a matter to be disclosed to public. Only the regulatory body or the court has the authority to seek it (information) for clearly spelt-out purposes.”
Management experts contradict Natarajan’s claim that all prestigious institutes evaluate students in the first semester. “I am in favour of full autonomy to PGDM institutes, however it shouldn’t put students at a disadvantage,” says Bakul Dholakia, former director, IIM Ahmedabad.
Pritam Singh, former director, IIM Lucknow, says asking students to withdraw after a term is “extremely unreasonable and devoid of total human consideration. It’s based on the concept of profiteering.” Asked if PGDM institutes are misusing the autonomy granted by Supreme Court in 2011, Harivansh Chaturvedi, director, Birla Institute of Management Technology, says, “Out of 450 PGDM institutes, if some are making mistakes, I will call it aberration rather than a prevalent norm.”
“When AICTE received a lot of complaints from students, it issued a circular in 2010 to regulate admission processes, course duration, fee, etc but some PGDM schools challenged it in the SC in 2011 and the apex court stayed it by an interim order. Every year the case comes up for hearing and SC extends its interim order for the next year,” says SS Mantha, former AICTE chairman.