Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

July 20, 2010

Guru Mantra: Dan LeClair, Vice President, AACSB International

Dr. Dan LeClair
Vice President and Chief Knowledge Officer
AACSB International

As vice president and chief knowledge officer of AACSB International (AACSB), Dan LeClair is responsible for AACSB’s efforts to advance quality management education worldwide through thought leadership. He was the principal architect of Knowledge Services, which assists business school leaders to plan and make decisions using comparable data and information about trends and effective practices. Dan leads the research teams of AACSB and the Global Foundation for Management Education, a think tank joint venture of AACSB and the European Foundation for Management Development. He has served on numerous industry-wide committees and task forces (for organizations such as GMAC®, EMBA Council, and Aspen Institute Business & Society Program) and is an internationally recognized expert, author, and frequent presenter on business education topics. Prior to joining AACSB, Dan was an associate professor in The University of Tampa’s business school, where he also served as associate dean. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Florida.

Rahul- What are the top two trends in you are witnessing in the field of accreditation for management education?
Dan- First, more schools have been aiming for higher quality for many reasons, including mounting awareness that better management education can be an engine of development and innovation.  Second, participants (students, faculty, and staff) in management education are becoming more internationally mobile, while the information available to them about the quality of schools has been rather limited. Because accreditation provides a framework and mechanism for quality improvement and is a signal to stakeholders that the school will deliver on its promises, it is easy to understand why the demand for international accreditation, such as that offered by AACSB, has been rising.

Rahul- Indian management education has expanded very fast over last decade and has nearly 2,000 management institutions. However, this expansion has come at the expense of quality. What are your views on how accreditation approach and AACSB could help infuse quality in Indian management education?
Dan- Intellectual capital is the foundation for excellent management education, but is often hardest to develop in emerging economies such as India’s where qualified faculty are in extremely short supply. So for AACSB to achieve its mission to advance quality management education worldwide, it must not only offer transparent standards that challenge schools to achieve higher levels of quality, it must also find innovative ways to help schools develop faculty talent and scholarly cultures. AACSB must help schools to collaborate internationally on doctoral education and explore how intellectual capital also can be created through deep engagement with management practice and meaningful interaction with students—and not just through refereed journal articles.

Rahul- What advice do you have for Indian management institutions who may be exploring to apply for AACSB accreditation in next couple of years, so that they are better prepared and make the best use of their resources for accreditation process?
Dan- Begin with a visioning exercise and deep strategic assessment. Among other things, this exercise will help to determine whether it makes sense for the school to pursue AACSB accreditation. The point is to decide on a set of long term goals, and then determine whether AACSB accreditation can help the school to achieve those goals. Next, get involved with the global management education community. One route is to join AACSB’s network, which is the world’s largest, consisting of nearly 1,200 schools across more than 70 countries. But don’t just join; participate in the events, conversations, and governance of AACSB. Finally, start the formal Pre-Accreditation process, which is designed to assist the schools in a journey of quality improvement that leads to accreditation.
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July 13, 2010

Crisis of Professionalism in Indian Higher Education

Indian higher education is facing a serious crisis of professionalism. We have already heard stories of corruption at regulatory bodies and institutional misrepresentation. More recently, trends of expansion without the emphasis on quality and transparency is resulting in unhealthy and unprofessional competition among institution. 

This competition is intense among new and bottom-half of the institution in career-oriented fields like medicine, engineering and management. Inspired by other institutions, many new institutions have started in last five years with the expectation of making significant surplus. However, since they were late entrants, many of them are struggling to achieve full enrollment. Also, these recent entrants do not have huge investment capacities and hence they are trying to find short-cuts by engaging in unscruplous recruitment activities.

In the last couple of months, at least three reports of unprofessional recruitment activities emerged:

First, AajTak television channel exposed a "buying a seat" into one of the most respected medical colleges in India--the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)--at a price of Rs.40 Lakhs (~US$ 90,000).

Last month, Business Standard highlighted that many new management schools are struggling to achieve their enrollment numbers and are "buying students". A consultant cited in the article says “I am willing to supply students to your institute for anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 60,000 a student. I could reduce this if your institute accepts students in bulk."

This month, Telegraph covered a story on killing of an student in recruitment rivalry between groups from two engineering colleges. The article states that MGR and Satyabhama were among the institutes that paid their current and former students to recruit freshers, who would shell out hefty capitation fees for management quota seats. The rivalry among these groups of recruiters, they said, sometimes led to gang fights over the kidnapping of each other’s freshers."

Concern for international partnerships
There is significant optimism which has been generated by the introduction of the foreign universities bill in the parliament.  However, the big concern for foreign universities interested in recruiting students or building partnerships is--how to find the best fit partner and how to ensure that they are not partnering with an institute with a histroy of unprofessional practices? This means that even if the bill passes there will be several execution challenges and one has to tread cautiously. Foreign univesities need to probe about the degree of professionalism adopted in the administration and teaching at the partner institution. Likewise, for Indian institutions who are really serious in internationalizing their offerings and seek global parterns should focus on integrating and communicating professionalism in their practices. Of course, having an effective regulatory mechanism would create some checks and balances and Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill, 2010 is one important bill to look forward to.

In 1938, Dean FC Smith in his article entitled "Education as a profession" noted that two factors which are limiting potential of education sector as a full profession--inability to attract high caliber talent, and lack of adequate moral and financial support. More than seventy years later, it applies as well to Indian higher education. Indian education has to develop a profession of education by attracting top talent, inducing financial investments and establishing high ethical standards.

- Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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July 12, 2010

Guru Mantra: Anthony Marsella, Lancaster University

Dr. Anthony Marsella
Director of Marketing and External Affairs
Lancaster University, UK

Dr. Anthony Marsella is the Director of Marketing and External Affairs at Lancaster University. He is responsible for marketing, communications, admissions, recruitment, alumni relations and leading international business income growth. He is also Chairman of and a Council Member of the Gerson Lehrman Group. Previously, Mr. Marsella was the Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager, B2B Sales at Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland where he was responsible for marketing of Consumer Electronics, Mobile Telecommunication devices and IT. While at Samsung he achieved brand leadership and an annual sales growth of 26% in the recession. Prior to that, he was at Marketing Director at IBM, where he had wide-ranging responsibilities from defining leading IBM Global Services marketing and building direct channel capabilities ( 

Anthony Marsella is a graduate of Strasbourg, Imperial College London and Kingston Universities, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Liveryman of the City of London. He speaks regularly and has published many articles. His recent book Marketing Revolution: The Radical New Approach to Transforming the Business, the Brand and the Bottom Line made top ten best seller marketing publications in 2006.

Rahul- What were your drivers for expanding Lancaster's presence in India? How easy or difficult was it to get the approval at Lancaster given that the regulatory scenario in India is still fuzzy?
Anthony- Lancaster is a leading international university and was recently ranked among the top 6 UK elite institutions (The Guardian). At home, one third of our academic staff are non British and one in five of Lancaster’s students come from a country outside the UK. There are approximately 100 nationalities resident on campus, including many students from India.

Lancaster University has also been actively pursuing the setting up of significant collaborative teaching partnerships in key countries around the world such as India. This forms part of Lancaster's commitment to bringing quality education to the locality. In New Delhl, Lancaster University is partnering with GD Goenka, a high quality education provider. Working in partnership with Goenka, Lancaster University will be contributing to education development in the country and this will bring a different learning style to India. The education provision through Goenka, an Indian company, ensures that the local market benefits from this initiative. Lancaster is networked into India through its partner at Goenka and around 50 major companies are also linked in, offering placements and Summer internships to students.

Obviously, the new legislation will lead to a full mix across the market. Lancaster welcomes the HE reforms, as it would welcome any development which creates opportunities for students in India to benefit from quality Higher Education. Certainly early indications are that the reforms will lead to a more robust and committed private sector. University quality will need to be ensured so that this sector remains complimentary to public provision. There will be more clarification expected over the next few months and GD Goenka together with Lancaster University are committed to working together to ensure alignment with local requirements.

Rahul- Lancaster has partnered with Goenka to offer one of the most comprehensive portfolio of programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels . More recently, you have also launched the one-year global MBA program. Please take us through Lancaster's experiences in finding the potential partner in India. What were the criteria for Lancaster in choosing?
Anthony- Foreign universities have to have the right partnerships in place to ensure quality control. The academic reputation of the foreign university is crucial to credibility and the ability to attract high quality staff.

It was Lancaster's excellent academic reputation that attracted the GD Goenka Group to us, and the Group's knowledge of India together with their strong brand and superb facilities in India which made the partnership a very good fit. Lancaster University Management School's world ranking is rising faster than almost any business school in the world; now 4th in the UK and 24th in the world for the MBA and Lancaster is highly ranked for both research and student satisfaction. This is one of the university's flagship products and we have a very high demand for the MBA from India at our UK location. This is why we need to increase local access to the course.

We believe that this partnership is providing people in India with a major new type of higher education opportunity. Lancaster will be the first and only university to deliver higher educational qualifications at the GD Education City site.

Rahul- Many universities, both in India and abroad, are eagerly looking forward to the evolution of this partnership model between Lancaster and Goenka. What are the key priorities and goals you have set for next 3-years?
Anthony- Lancaster fully intends to develop its provision in India with Goenka and to offer degrees across its 4 faculties, including science and technology , health and design. The new 1 year global MBA has begun and we look forward to the first cohort graduating. The next couple of years will see the creation of a school of Engineering with state-of-the-art teaching facilities such as never been offered before in India.

We will continue to develop and build on the partnership to give students locally a truly world class experience.
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July 09, 2010

Guru Mantra: Maggie Johnson, Education & University Relations, Google

Successful models of university-industry relations are very important in aligning competencies, fostering innovation and funding research. This week Dr. Maggie Johnson shares some of the initiatives at Google. Also see earlier interviews with Dr. Jim Spohrer, Director, University Relations, IBM and Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, CEO, Zensar.
- Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Dr. Maggie Johnson
Director of Education and University Relations

Maggie Johnson is Director of Education and University Relations for Google. She manages all technical training and leadership development programs for Google engineers and operations staff, as well as Google’s educational outreach efforts. She also manages the university relations area, building strategic partnerships with faculty and labs globally. Prior to Google, Maggie was a faculty member and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Rahul- What excites you about your role as the Director of Education and University Relations, Google? Please share a couple of projects/initiatives you are most proud of?
Maggie- Google has a number of exciting initiatives in education. Some are described here.

In general, we have four focus areas:

* Increase access to and quality of computing curriculum
* Implement new education technologies and tools that scale
* Influence positive changes in education through policy and community engagement
* Use Google's tools, technologies and infrastructure to support teaching and learning

One interesting project is our App Inventor visual programming interface for Android. Mobile is the next gateway to get educators and students excited about computing. App Inventor is aimed at empowering K-12 and undergraduate students to build useful Android applications without any programming experience.

Rahul- You have extensive experiences both as an academician at Stanford and as a corporate professional leading university relations at Google. Based on your experiences, what are the critical success factors in building sustainable university-industry collaborations/programs?
Maggie- One important factor is finding areas of mutual interest. Our most successful research collaborations are those where we have a strong interest internally in the results of the research, and we are working with academic researchers who are experts in these areas. The collaboration works because both parties bring essential experience and expertise to the table, and the results are beneficial to both.

Rahul- You are also responsible for technical training and leadership development programs for Google engineers and operations staff. Please share what are the top competencies which engineers have not gained from their college education and how do you bridge this gap?
Maggie- Our hiring practices are very successful in assessing technical skills and potential. What our new graduates find most challenging is not typically in the technical area, but more in the "soft skill" area. Things like being able to communicate and present their work effectively, managing their time and workload, working on a team, etc. We address these areas directly by providing mentors, courses and online resources to help them make the transition from college to industry.
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July 05, 2010

Guru Mantra: Rajeev Shorey, NIIT University

Prof. Rajeev Shorey
President, NIIT University 

Dr. Shorey received his Ph.D and MS (Engg) in Electrical Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, India in 1997 and 1991 respectively. He received his B.E degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IISc, Bangalore in 1987.

Prior to joining NIIT University, Dr. Shorey was in General Motors India Science Laboratory (ISL), Bangalore. He was the Lab Group Manager of the Vehicle Communications and Information Management Group at GM ISL. Prior to joining GM Research, Dr. Shorey was a Research Staff Member at the IBM Research Laboratory, New Delhi from 1998 to 2005. From 1996 to 1998, Dr. Shorey was at SASKEN Technologies, Bangalore as a Project Lead of the Wireless Systems group. Dr. Shorey was an adjunct faculty in the Computer Science Dept at IIT, Delhi from 1998 to 2005. He was a faculty in the Computer Science Dept at the National University of Singapore from 2003 to 2004, while on leave from IBM Research Labs in New Delhi.

Rahul: NIIT University formally started last year and has already gained prominence. Now the University has also launched the MBA program. What is your assessment of the University so far and what are the key priorities for next three years?

Rajeev: NIIT University (NU) is based upon the four core principles of Industry-Linked, Research-Driven, Technology-Based and Seamlessness. It is these 4 core principles that define the ethos of NU and in everything we do, from faculty hiring to admitting the students, we keep the core principles in mind.

The Key priorities for next three years at NIIT University are to continue to recruit reputed faculty members from all over the world, to build strong ties with Industry and R&D labs in India and abroad, to inculcate a culture of research at all levels in the university.

Rahul: Warren Bennis, chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California notes that "...running a major research university today is far more complex and demanding than running any large, global corporation." You are also building a higher education institution of eminence, what are the key challenges you faced or are facing in institution building process?

Rajeev: Some of the Key challenges faced by any *quality* driven institutions are:
(i) Attracting world-class and global faculty to the university. This is particularly challenging in India since salaries in Industry and R&D labs are typically higher than that in educational institutions. Thus, only the highly motivated people join a university environment.

(ii) Ensuring *self sustainability* of the university. This means that in the long run, the university should ideally be generating funds from private companies and government sources. This again will only happen when the faculty are research oriented and driven by excellence.

(iii) Ensuring a Global nature of the university. This is a huge challenge since attracting foreign nationals with excellent credentials needs a lot of work and convincing on the part of the university.

(iv) Adaptability: in curriculum, policies and practices. The curriculum needs to adapt to ever changing knowledge/technologies.

Rahul: Based on your experiences, what are the top two competencies required to lead a higher education institution?

Rajeev:(i) Outstanding leadership skills in addition to being highly focused, energetic and goal oriented.

(ii) Being Research Driven and Industry-Linked. These two are so essential for any university that wants to make a mark in today's Knowledge Society.
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July 03, 2010

Update on Foreign Universities Bill 2010

InsideHigherEd ran a story on the developments with foreign universities bill in India. I was quoted in the story about the co-existence of both poor and good quality foreign collaborations outside regulatory system. I believe that the intention and timing of the bill is good as it attempts to clarify the country’s policy about foreign higher education. However, the last mile problem is with the approach of the bill. Creating some barriers for entry is good, but creating them so high that nobody can jump over them is unrealistic. Full story on All Eyes on India.

Pawan Agarwal also shared his persepctives on the bill. He argues that "the key to the success of Sibal’s landmark initiative lies in allowing partnerships between the foreign universities and the Indian public and private universities and the Indian private sector to flourish and prosper. There is a need for unambiguous provision in the law to make it happen; otherwise this law may in fact be a step backwards.

While, few foreign universities may set up their full-fledged branch campuses, but much of the action would be through creative partnerships between the foreign universities and the Indian partners. It is through such partnerships; he [Kapil sibal] can shake the system and enhance choice, increase competition and bring in internationally benchmarked quality to the Indian shores." Full Story at India's New Law on Foreign Providers
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Global Accreditation for Indian Business Schools

My article on global accreditation options for Indian B-schools was published in EDU magazine. Accreditation is a clear recognition of a school’s ability to match global standards and communicates a commitment to quality and excellence. In India, SP Jain and MDI are accredited by AMBA and IIM-A and IIM-B are accredited by EQUIS. Currently, no Indian B-school is accredited by AACSB but at least three business schools are working towards it. In contrast, there are nine Chinese B-schools accredited by AACSB.

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July 01, 2010

Guru Mantra: Jason Katcher, Google

Jason Katcher
Head of Education & Recruitment Advertising

Jason has spent the last 3 years helping drive the for-profit education sector within Google’s North American advertising division. His team oversees relationships with the majority of the marquee players in the private sector education, helping customers and agencies navigate the Google ecosystem to connect with potential students in a cost-effective, transparent manner. Through direct response and brand marketing channels, his team continues to serve as both media partner and advisor to schools in the dynamic world of digital marketing. Joining Google in January 2005, Jason helped to establish the inside sales focus around Google's Local business practice mainly to real estate, automotive and employment business models. Before joining Google, Jason spent 3 years in the traditional media business publishing a government recruitment trade magazine which helped to connect large defense contractors and federal agencies with military personnel transitioning back to civilian life. He also spent 5 years in the financial services industry with Investec Ernst, a South African based investment bank after graduating in 1996 from The University of Michigan, with a B.S. in Psychology.

Rahul- Please share more about your work as the Head of Education & Recruitment Advertising at Google. What are your strategic priorities for next three years?
Jason- Several years back, we made a conscious effort to start connecting more with ad agencies in the recruitment advertising space to help them understand how platforms like search could help their customers compliment their digital job board strategies. As more companies saw the value of direct marketing channels like Google we saw increased traction across the sector. However, as the economic conditions took hold in late 2008 and corporations began controlling expenses more tightly, our team focus shifted to helping educators connect with the large numbers of people re-entering that ecosystem after being laid off. After analyzing the education landscape our division we turned our primary focus to the pure private sector players. As a result we were one of the few bright industries in media over the last 2 years as more people looked to furthering their education with a bleak employment picture.

Due to these conditions, our customers have aggressive growth plans which has kept us very busy keeping them on the cutting edge of how they can better tailor their marketing strategies. We anticipate over the next few years that we will continue to deeper our ties with private sector schools where they not only continue to leverage our advertising platforms, but move more of their needs to Google. This includes moving business to the "cloud" via Google Apps, tapping Local aspects and becoming evermore involved with mobile technologies. In the end it's all about more efficient marketing and overall partnerships with our customers producing a better end user experience that helps those looking to enhance their personal franchise by pushing their education forward. With Obama's hope of every American completing one year post-hs education, we hope Google can continue to play a role in helping those who want to pursue that path.

Rahul- What are the top two trends you are witnessing in online advertising in education domain?

Jason- As many people know the predominant marketing model in this sector is the reliance on lead generators to drive potential applicants. This has been the model for quite some time. However, over the last few years these schools become much savvier with respect to driving qualified traffic with the realization that quality always trumps quantity. As a result they have come to truly realize the power of platforms like search, display and video. More importantly that these channels do not work in a vacuum, but rather are all complimentary and very transparent. The question then becomes what is the optimal media mix which can help them reduce their dependence on more opaque models that do not provide the same insights. We expect this trend to continue as these schools reduce their dependency on more traditional methods.

Importance of brand competition to get stiffer. More players in the space are emerging with non-profits, traditional schools and community colleges pushing more offerings online and getting involved with distance learning. This trend is not slowing down and our customers understand that their brands will continue to play a larger role in who decided to attend their offerings over another's. Due to this, we are actively engaged with our clients and ad agencies on understanding how they can put their brand voice out to the world through digital media. Search is the core component of direct response, but display advertising and video are how they can tell their story in a visual setting. You have already seen this with brands like Kaplan University challenging the state of traditional learning by launching mass TV, print and digital campaigns. That lifted awareness for them in a large scale but also raised awareness of the entire sector. I imagine you will see more of that over the coming year.

Rahul- In general, for-profit education sector had been more open to the concept of online advertising. Please share your experiences with traditional not-for-profit educational institutions and what opportunities and challenges you see there?
Jason- The private sector has certainly been the early adopters in the space. However, this was mainly due to the nature of their business models. If you are trying to promote or market an online offering you need to be using that medium to showcase it. But there are many good examples of non-profits taking advantage of online marketing. Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia and others have been building strong digital presences for a while now. Keep in mind that the barrier to entry has also been lowered significantly by new technologies, especially YouTube and other video sharing sites. When you see someone like Salman Khan create the Khan academy in under 5 years namely due to the availability of YouTube, it makes the argument of needing a well known brand or deep pockets to build your online following hold less water. To put it in perspective, the largest active school system is the University of Phoenix with over 400,000 students at any given point and Khan academy gets nearly the same amount of monthly unique visitors. It's simply incredible. I would summarize it the following way. For those looking to get more deeply integrated with digital marketing you need to experiment, measure, implement and scale. Follow those 4 tactics and I think you will be ahead of the game.
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