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IIMs want government to let go of control

At the first meeting with HRD Minister, IIMs will discuss autonomy; demand level playing field with foreign educational institutions, reports Swaha Sahoo.

india Updated: Oct 15, 2009 21:27 IST
Swaha Sahoo

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) will make a strong case for autonomy and freedom from government control at the first meeting of the IIM Council, the largest decision making body, with the HRD Ministry on Friday.

The IIM directors are also expected to demand a level playing field with respect to foreign education providers.

The IIMs want freedom to create teaching positions and decide the remuneration of the faculty members.

"The more important issue is the government's inability to make the IITs and IIMs truly world-class institutions and to let go of control," said Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM Bangalore.

"Look at the way governments in other countries support and enable their government institutions. The government of Singapore has made NUS (National University of Singapore) fantastic, and the Chinese government has enabled Beijing University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Should Indian government not do the same for its institutions?" asked Chandra, a PhD from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who taught for 10 years at IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) before moving to IIM-B.

"Once the budget for the IIMs is decided, all decisions should be left to the Board of Governors. The selection of the director was done by the respective Boards before M.M. Joshi (former HRD Minister) brought it under the preview of the ministry," said Chandra.

He added that the objectives of the IIMs and the ministry were not different.

The IIMs have struggled with almost every government and human resource development (HRD) minister on various issues, be it fixing the tuition fee, opening campuses abroad or implementing the Other Backward Classes quota in the premier institutions.

The Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, which will enable premier institutions from around the world to set up campuses in India also have the IIMs worried. "We should be given the same treatment as the world class institutions. They will have the freedom to decide faculty remunerations and thus be able to attract the best faculty. In contrast we are battling faculty shortage, which will worsen with competition," said another IIM director, not willing to be quoted.

The seven older IIMs will also be burdened with the task of mentoring the six new IIMs that have been announced by the ministry.

However, with the current HRD minister Kapil Sibal committed to education reform, the directors are hopeful of better results.

As a principal I am willing for the government to incrementally let go if they (the IIMs) give us a five-year vision and goal posts and achieve it. I promise I will let go, Sibal has said at a press conference last month.