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IIM Bill: Premier institutes plan new courses, tie-ups with foreign varsities

A Bill passed by Rajya Sabha recently promises greater autonomy to the management schools.

education Updated: Jan 17, 2018 18:16 IST
Lavina Mulchandani
Lavina Mulchandani
Hindustan Times
IIM,Rajya Sabha,Degree
(Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar)

Last month, the Rajya Sabha passed a bill that spells hope for India’s top management institutes. The IIM Bill will grant all 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) the power to grant degrees, not diplomas. It tags the IIMs as Institutes of National importance, giving them the same importance as their counterparts in Technology and Science. This means the IIMs have more power than before to frame policies independently, add courses or discontinue existing ones.

The bill is likely to get implemented in a couple of months and it will transform the institutes, say experts. IIMs may be able to grant the degrees as early as the next academic year. “There is a lot more to the bill than that,” says Janat Shah, director of IIM-Udaipur. “You will see a lot more innovation on campus and greater interest from institutes of global importance.”

For the 2.5 lakh students attempting the CAT to secure admission in the IIMs, the bill brings joy. Rajshri Nagpal, 22, a commerce graduate from Kanjurmarg expects the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campuses to become more culturally diverse. “There might be more students from abroad joining an IIM with me next year,” she says, smiling. “I like the term Institutes of National Importance, there is more pride attached to IIMs now.”

But how will this change a student’s life on campus and their future after graduation? Take a look:

Standing strong

Each IIM will now be able to include five alumni from the Institute on their board. “The board will have the power to appoint the director and the chairperson,” says Shah. Earlier it was the central government’s Ministry of Human Resources and Development that would pick the director. This would cause several problems. The Ministry would not keep in mind an individual institute’s vision. “Every five years we had a director with completely different ideas from the previous one,” Shah explains.

With the Bill, IIMs can appoint a director keeping in mind the institute’s plans. Involving alumni in the policy decisions helps twofold – the board gets the advantage of student experience, and current students get one more role model on campus.

The Bill will strengthen governance at IIMs, says Dheeraj Sharma, director of IIM-Rohtak. “We will be able to get faculty from abroad, get better noticed by institutes of global importance and certainly be able to bring in more innovation in the curriculum,”

he says. The IIMs already get to decide their course content, but after the bill, they will be able to add more undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. “I have always liked the specialised master’s programmes in finance and economics at universities abroad,” says Rishikesha Krishnan, director of IIM-Indore. “I am looking forward to being able to offer them on my campus soon.” The fellowship programmes offered by the IIMs will become Doctorates.

Students may also get opportunities to collaborate with global institutes while studying at the IIMs. “Earlier, starting a programme or associating with a foreign university was a long and hectic process of getting permissions from the HRD ministry,” says Sharma. It would take months and permission was not always granted. With the institute board will now be making those decisions, many expect the path to be smoother. Some also expect that grants for on-campus research and aid will come easier.

The Bill offers the ability but not the resources for change. “We will need a lot more people and money to expand the institutes, be able to grant the degrees, change systems and develop infrastructure,” says Krishnan. Older IIMs, like the ones in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode have survived without government grants. “We would function with the fees we got from the students, but we will now need grants to expand further, study the market and design suitable courses,” Krishnan says.

Be prepared

While no changes are proposed for the CAT yet, students should start getting trained in soft skills to secure admission at an IIM, says Prashant Nair, centre director for Mumbai at TIME, a CAT training institute. “Read more news, polish your vocabulary and push to get internships to gain better industry perspective.”

Anurag Shah, 19, a second-year arts student from Thane has started early to get into IIM-Ahmedabad. “I aspire to take up Masters in economics and expect IIM-Ahmedabad will offer the course after the Bill,” says Shah. “I take a lot of online tests, read books by economists from around the world and am learning to write essays.”

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 18:16 IST