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MBA Education in India – What is in Store for the Future (PART II)

R Jayaraman

Author: R Jayaraman

Date: Mon, 2016-08-22 12:26

Contiued from the earlier blog: “MBA Education in India – what is in store for the future (PART I )” by the same author.

There are three main impacting forces. First, the attention span of students is reducing with the advent of social media, instant 'like's and 'thumbs down' buttons, mobile android phones, a fast-paced life, shorter tenures at the work place, lack of  “meaty“ jobs (because consultancies do not have the big jobs, and consulting is the growing job sector for MBAs in India). Second, the syllabus is constantly evolving. Topics come in and go out like a metronome. This is primarily because the needs of the industry are changing. Keeping pace with the drumbeat of the industry is a task which needs constant attention and quick response. Else there is a good chance of the B-School becoming irrelevant. Third, the pedagogical methods are evolving, albeit more slowly than the syllabi. MOOCs, Blended Learning (SPJIMR has made a beginning in this), on-line MBA are some of the brand extensions where B-Schools are treading fresh ground.

Of late, one has been hearing of the “burden” that MBA students have to carry. Too much of work, too many courses, too many assignments, too much of MBA! One is reminded of the periodical reports in the popular media on the burden that school students have to carry – their outsized, loaded (overloaded?) bags. These are just peripheral to learning and can get demonised, well beyond their “ill effects“. For example, school students in India have to study three languages, plus history, geography, science, civics et al. In all, every day there are typically eight periods in which different subjects are taught. Each subject has a text and a notebook in which students make notes (hopefully). So that makes for at least 10 to 15 100 pages books to be carried. Plus the compass box, scales, pens and pencils. If that is a burden, then education is one too.

In the same vein, MBA students, by definition, have to learn several streams of knowledge. All this has to be done in one year, so that in the second year, they could study some of their specialisation subjects in-depth. Thus, MBA education in India tries to walk a tightrope between a general education and a specialised one. Perhaps the objective is to create general specialists!

However that may be, in this objective, one can easily see that courses vie with each other for the students' time and lead to a heavy pressure on everyday life. It should be the objective of the B-School to enable the students to deal with this pressure. One way could be to reduce the load, perhaps, the easy way, and the other is the Harvard way, to hope  that students will dedicate themselves to studies. The argument of “lack of time for reflection" and, another companion concept, “doing live projects“  should be seen in context and perspective.

In a student's life, the first 16 years are spent in studies, and the balance at work. When in the education system, the student's primary job is to gain knowledge – and not worry about how to apply it. Applying this knowledge, experiential learning will happen on-the-job over the next 30 to 40 years. Thus students in B Schools should be relieved of the constant battering that they will have to be “employment ready“. This could de-stress them and allow them to spend more time to learn and handle the load with full concentration.

 

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Comments

The author has well articulated the current scenario for students undergoing MBA education, this is more relative to Executive MBA program. While it is evident that, in India, the school going children and MBA pursuing students are in same boat, They hardly get enough time to imbibe learning which they have made. It has become more mechanical to get a PG degree and bag the highly paid job. While MBA curriculam needs to be competitive for a collage offering this course, it has become a world challenge to keep the pace with well defined syllabus as per industry standards. One solution could be to re-look at the primary- HSSC school syllabus including UG programme and shift some of the basic MBA syllabus to these milestones. MBA is a professional science, any learning will be useful if shifted to to UG / HSSC/ SSC. For example, if a school plans to bring in Business Studies in its curricula, it helps children understand finances and probably make them aware of buying habbits, importance to spend wisely rather earning highly. Such children can become more open to understand bigger aspects by the time they pursue MBA eduction. MBA is likely to be must to have eligibility for future generations, its up to us on how do we make sure our future generations are able to take this knowledge a better way than what we did. This will reduce the juggling at a later stage and ensure students enjoy learning.

MBA has become a necessity for a professional aspiring to grow in his/her career very fast. This blog explains beautifully the transition of MBA from its inception to the new form where it’s more of a madness. India is world’s largest provider of management education. This blog captures more about the students who come for full-time 1 yr. MBA. For working professionals who cannot sacrifice job to devote full time to education, balancing between management education and work is real challenge. Management education seems to be more of only a degree that will accelerate a working professional’s career. The off-campus study where we depend completely on ourselves does reduce the effectiveness of our learning. Learning in a classroom with discussions are more enriching. I completely agree with Dr R Jayaraman on making MBA a burden. Even when we are at the Campus, even the institute tries to push as much as classrooms and assignments for us to cover. Thus we land up with too much of work, too many courses etc. MBA has lost its real essence. However, positive part is as we study and work, it’s a good opportunity to learn and apply at the same time. Even quality of the management education provided is yet another perspective that will define the future of MBA. There are many MBA graduates who do not get jobs in corporate or big cities. Probably due to a disconnect between the educational and employer requirements. Besides the way management schools are promoting courses on entrepreneurship, students get so much bogged down with the trends. Seems all of us will begin a start-up and so we need to go through specializations. Must be sounding negative, however, management education has become more commercial.

In today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, where businesses are evolving at a rapid pace and technology has brought creative disruption, a change in management approaches and hence in MBA education is a given. The article aptly covers areas and factors influencing this change keeping into mind the student, business environment and the future requirement. As a student of SPJIMR, having just started my MBA journey, due to the revised curriculum I am aware of the various challenges that would be thrown at future managers. The awareness comes from the knowledge that the skills, attitudes and knowledge by the future manager would be different from the attributes today. As a part of the subject on Management: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (an example of an evolved curriculum as discussed by the author) I asked my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances working in management and non-management roles about the perception of a future manager, what attributes they associate the manager with and what needs to be learnt today to be a future ready. I got different answers from people with different ages and professions but the common theme revolved around a manager having multiple perspectives and being able to handle his/her team better. It implied that good people skills and adaptability are the key characteristics a manager must have and the emphasis has shifted from knowledge based learning to experiential learning. Being aware of the new perspectives requires having knowledge of the world around, the different sciences, and also arts. Having a course on liberal arts after joining a B school was quite unexpected but as a part of curriculum when I not only read texts like Plato’s Apology, Wasps of Darwin, De-schooling, Bhavad Gita, Mark Anthonoy’s speech, etc. but also related it to management in the course Management and Liberal Arts, it gave me a fresh perspective. This would have not been possible had the B school continued with its traditional form of teaching. Talking about pedagogy, non-classroom learning enables me to learn about organizing and scheduling events, managing my time, working as team and at the same time concentrating on my studies and extra curriculars. Having to learn about multiple streams also helps in achieving a holistic view about the situation which will aid in providing solutions. Though the aim should be to de-stress students by restricting them to only gaining knowledge, learning to apply knowledge has become a must because of the requirements put on todays’ and tomorrows’ manager. And while students might absorb most of the knowledge when given adequate time, working on important and urgent situations and crunch timelines has become an art that students need to master. MBA education has come a long way from what it was in its inception. Not all theories assumed true previously are applicable today and in future with advent of AI and IOT the future their existence might be questionable. Management education which teaches students to be technologically adaptable and agile will be the key for the future.

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