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Why PGDM schools bat for autonomy

After being granted temporary relief by the SC, B-schools such as XLRI Jamshedpur and IMI Delhi now want a final solution to the regulatory impasse

education Updated: Nov 12, 2014 11:42 IST
Gauri Kohli

The autonomy of PGDM (postgraduate diploma in management) institutions has been an important issue for both B-schools and students. With the Supreme Court granting extension of its earlier interim order staying the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) notification proposing withdrawal of autonomy and also restoring status quo in a recent judgment, the 300-odd B-schools have reason to cheer.

The AICTE in 2010 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institutions with regards to admission, curriculum framing, evaluation, fee fixing and governance was proposed to be withdrawn. The court had already extended its interim order until 2014-15.

But will there be an end to the legal hurdles? Will there be a long-term regulator for these institutions? According to Bakul Dholakia, director general of Delhi-based International Management Institute and former director, IIM Ahmedabad, “We welcome the timely decision of the honourable Supreme Court granting extension of interim relief for the academic year 2015-16. We feel that the existing system of MBA programmes being regulated by UGC and PGDM programmes to be regulated by AICTE is unlikely to address the core issue of monitoring the basic quality of management education imparted in such programmes offered in India. What is required is a well-thought-out framework for assessing the overall performance of business schools based on relevant and objective parameters that could be effectively monitored by the concerned regulators.”

Dholakia adds that the SC order would pave the way for smooth conduct of the admission process in PGDM courses offered by the private B-schools without any confusion or delay. “This would be of immense help for all aspirants in making appropriate choices while seeking admissions to leading private B-schools this year,” he says.

Experts say that the regulatory impasse, which created confusion over the status of PGDM B-schools, resulted in the closing down of more than 200 B-schools in the last three years. On April 25, 2013, the apex court declared that management education was no longer under AICTE’s domain. Subsequently, on December 3, 2013, the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a notification which attempted to bring PGDM B-schools under its ambit. “After we protested, we were excluded by UGC. Given the regulatory vacuum that threatened our existence, the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI) moved the Supreme Court to advise who will regulate PGDM,” says Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternate president, EPSI.

EPSI is 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 along with Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMA).

Chaturvedi hopes that the final decision gives a boost to PGDM institutions. “This is the fifth time that the Supreme Court has set aside AICTE’s notification of December 28, 2010, which was a clear case of withdrawing the autonomy of PGDM institutions. The final decision will set the trend and will hopefully create a precedent that no regulatory body like AICTE, or UGC should hamper the vibrant growth of quality institutions,” he says.

The court’s latest order will come as a big relief to more than 300 PGDM institutions and nearly five lakh aspirants. “Had it not been decided by the apex court, it could have completely upset the admission and placement process for the current academic year,” he adds.

‘Autonomy is compromised as of now’

So how important is autonomy of the private B-schools? Autonomy means, freedom for PGDM institutions to decide their course curriculum, recruitment of students and faculty, decision on the fee and grooming of students as per the changing needs of the industry.

“Autonomy is crucial for achieving excellence. The overall performance of any B-school would depend on the quality of leadership and governance and the independence it enjoys in all its decision-making processes. However, autonomy should be necessarily accompanied by a well-defined system of accountability,” says Bakul Dholakia, director general of Delhi-based International Management Institute and former director IIM Ahmedabad.

Rajan Saxena, vice chancellor, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, believes that the autonomy of the institutions must be “respected and jealously guarded. Institutions must be autonomous to design their courses and deliver them to the students they wish to select. Over a period of time, we have seen the institutions autonomy getting compromised because of the regulator intervention. This only diluted the quality of the PGDM programmes and adversely affected institutions’ viability,” says Saxena.

Experts believe that the autonomy of the institutions must be “respected and jealously guarded.” Institutions must be autonomous to design their courses and deliver them to the students they wish to select