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

February 17, 2011

Focus on Admissions, Placements Will Follow

Indian educational institutions pay too much attention to score high on placement salaries rather than reaching out and attracting the best talent. This is ignoring the core principle that higher education is a talent business and hence attracting good incoming class will result in better outgoing alumni.

IIMs and IITs have built this virtuous cycle over the years by attracting the top talent (530,000 applicants are vying for 9,600 seats in IIT in 2011). Even if the students learn nothing in the classes, they would still excel by learning on the job. However, not every institution is fortunate or competitive enough to select only top 1% of the applicants. Thus, institutions need to systematically develop and implement a strategy to attract the best talent.

An admissions office in most Indian institutions is limited to a brochure selling office. What is completely ignored is outreach and recruitment to attract and nurture the best talent. Marketing is considered to be same as advertising, which has limited impact in higher education (earlier post on advertising malpractices). The concept of engaging and counseling prospective students is almost non-existent.

Higher education institutions are an integral part of the talent supply chain and to be productive and efficient, they have to collaborate with other stakeholders. Institutions focus on building relationships with employers while completing ignoring partnerships with  feeder schools and the larger community to create a stronger impact and a positive word-of-mouth.

In the US institutions, admissions play much larger role as compared to placement. There are professional associations like NAGAP, AACRAO and NACAC which serve the needs of admissions officers, registrars and counselors. Placement offices are called "career services" which are not about getting employers on campus or highest salaries, but to counsel, prepare and support students with job search and career development.

Institutions aiming to build and strengthen reputation of an institution need to recognize that institutional reputation is highly dependent on the quality of students and alumni. Thus, having a systematic and targeted approach to attract best talent through best practices in admissions would anyways make role of placement office easier and reputation building faster.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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February 13, 2011

Guru Mantra: Yash Gupta, Dean, Carey Business School

Dean & Professor

Yash Gupta is dean and professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore, Md. He previously served as dean of the business schools of the University of Southern California, the University of Washington, and the University of Colorado at Denver. Dean Gupta’s academic and administrative appointments have also included the Frazier Family Professor in the School of Business at the University of Louisville (1988-1992), professor at the University of Manitoba, and assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 1991, he was awarded the University of Louisville President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity, and in 1994 and 1996 he was ranked as the most prolific scholar in the area of operations management in the United States. He currently serves on the governing board of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Dean Gupta earned a Ph.D. in management sciences from the University of Bradford, England, in 1976. He also holds a M.Tech, production management, from Brunel University of West London, England; a B.Sc.Eng, production engineering, from Panjab University, India; and a P.Eng. from the Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Manitoba, Canada. In addition, he completed the College Management Program in the Heinz School of Public Affairs at Carnegie Mellon University.

Rahul- While institution building is a time-intensive process, you have managed to create significant visibility for the Carey Business School since its establishment in 2007. What do you assess as the most critical success factors?

Dean Gupta- First, our connection with Johns Hopkins University has helped draw attention to the Carey Business School and its mission. But we couldn’t just sit back and let the JHU brand carry us to success. We also had to design a unique approach to business education, one that emphasizes intellectual flexibility, empathy, global awareness, and the practical application of classroom knowledge to real-world problems, as evidenced by our Innovation for Humanity (I4H) and Discovery to Market (D2M) projects.

Our timing also happened to be good – or lucky, depending on how you look at it. We launched the school just before the worldwide economic meltdown, and that actually proved to be a blessing in disguise for us. Suddenly people were questioning the traditional ways of doing and teaching business, and this opened the door to more serious consideration of the approach we were taking at Carey.

Meantime, we have been building two important boards at the school -- our Board of Overseers and our Corporate Advisory Board, both consisting of leading business executives from around the globe. Their presence has helped provide credibility. They believe strongly in what we’re doing here and have spread the word about our mission and our programs.

Among the other success factors: We have constantly sought, and attracted, top-tier faculty and students. These are people who could have cast their lots with more established business schools but decided they wanted to be part of something revolutionary and exciting. Also, we have staged many public events, such as our Leaders + Legends lecture series, which brings CEOs and top administrators from the private and public sectors to our campus every month. And we’ve aggressively marketed the school and earned extensive media coverage. In the past couple years, many print and video pieces about us have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg TV, C-SPAN, PBS, and other well-known outlets.

Rahul- The Global MBA program has weaved its curriculum around real-world applications and has some unique elements like the Innovation for Humanity Project. Please share your assessment of the program and student experiences thus far.

Dean Gupta- Business schools have a lot to learn from other disciplines. Take the study of medicine. Theory is crucial, but so is practice. What would a doctor’s education be without the clinical work? In the study of business, relatively little has been done along those lines. Perhaps a few classroom projects aim to replicate this approach, but you don’t often see formal plans that weave theory with practice. The Carey Business School changes this approach through Innovation for Humanity and Discovery to Market, both of which apply business theory to practical, real-world situations. This could include helping a health clinic in Africa devise a strong business plan, as in our I4H project, or taking an invention made at Johns Hopkins and turning it into a commercially viable product or process, as in D2M. In addition, we have our Thought and Discourse seminar series, based on a liberal-arts ethos. Every week, the students engage in Oxford-style debates about questions related to areas such as ethical conflicts, human expression, statesmanship, and power and politics.

These courses embody the philosophy of our school, which is to teach “business with humanity in mind.” We look at business through a problem-solving lens. We convey to our students the idea that we live in a world of relentless change and ambiguity. Within the past decade, look at the changes brought about by advances in technology, and by the development of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. How many people saw these changes coming? And who knows what the next five or 10 years will bring? We need, then, to prepare business students who can be adaptable in this world of rapid change and ambiguity. It’s not simply about being able to reduce ambiguity but also to understand and even thrive in it.

The I4H Project, in particular, represents this concept. As we place our students in places such as Rwanda and Peru and India, we help them grasp that the future of today’s organizations is not going to depend exclusively on the United States and other developed nations. The customers of the future will be found in Africa and Asia and Latin America, so it’s important to start building the knowledge and the empathy that will enable our students to succeed as business people in places and cultures that once might have been very foreign to them. We want Carey students to know what it’s like to walk in the shoes, in the skin, of people in distant environments.

Rahul- What are your strategic priorities for next three years for the School? What role will educational partnerships with other institutions play in offering joint-degrees or exchange programs?

Dean Gupta- A leading priority is to continue attracting outstanding people; we won’t stop recruiting the best faculty and the best students available throughout the world. We will be looking to build significant international partnerships with other schools, possibly by exchanging faculty and students for short periods and developing joint academic programs. Already, during our Innovation for Humanity Project in January of this year, we worked in concert with other universities in Peru, Kenya, Rwanda, and India. We have seen how successful and beneficial those arrangements can be, and so we want to build on that.

In terms of programs, we’re launching our new Executive MBA program this year. It will be a distinctive kind of EMBA because it will include the I4H and D2M pieces from our Global MBA. Another near-term goal is to launch a non-traditional business PhD program, perhaps to be run jointly with other divisions of JHU. Certainly we’re not content to rest on the accomplishments of our first few years. We intend to keep growing toward our goal of being one of the best business schools in the world, and one of the best for the world.
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February 08, 2011

Guru Mantra: James Dean, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Dr. James W. Dean Jr.
Dean, Kenan-Flagler Business School

James W. Dean Jr. is dean of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and professor of organizational behavior. Leadership, organizational change, strategic decision making, international management, and organizational performance improvement are the focus of his research, teaching and consulting. He has served as senior associate dean for academic affairs, associate dean of Executive Development and associate dean of the MBA Program at UNC Kenan-Flagler. He earned PhD and master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA from The Catholic University.

Rahul- Kenan-Flagler Business School has launched an online MBA program for working professionals around the world. Please take us through the genesis of the idea and why you believe it fills a need in the MBA market-space?

Dean Dean- MBA@UNC is a new model for MBA education, and we’re very excited about it.

UNC Kenan-Flagler has a long tradition of educational innovation, and offering a top quality MBA in a new online format is the next logical step. As the world of business grows ever more complex and global, we see a need among working professionals who want to earn their MBA from a top school but are unable or unwilling to relocate to do so.

The time is right, too. Technology has transformed all parts of our lives, and, ultimately, it will redefine education, too. We have a rare opportunity to lead this transformation.

MBA@UNC is designed for high-potential professionals wherever they are working in the world. It has the same very high standards for faculty, students and curriculum as our existing programs. Students will meet the same selective admissions criteria and master the same material as do the students in our current programs. What’s different is how we deliver it. No other school offers anything quite like it.

Rahul- You became the Dean of the School in fall 2008, right around the beginning of the recession and still strengthened the position of the School. What are the top two leadership lessons your learnt, which could be relevant for other educational leaders?

Dean Dean- One lesson is that our organizations are more resilient than we sometimes think they are. I tend to try to shield the organization from some of the impact of the financial difficulties, but when I consulted with my colleagues and asked for their help, they have been willing and able to bear their fair share of the burden, and have thanked me for being clear about the challenges we are facing.

Another lesson would be not to assume a defensive a posture in light of challenges, financial and otherwise. We have been able to move forward on several areas that are strategic to the School, despite limited resources. Obviously, we meant we had to choose to not do other things that are less strategic. But we will come out of this much stronger as a School due to this willingness to keep moving forward. The strong team and culture we have at the School made this possible.

Rahul- What are your strategic priorities for next three years for the School? What role educational partnerships with other institutions would play in offering joint-degrees or exchange programs in the future?

Dean Dean- We continually work on enhancing the leadership development opportunities we offer our students, with an aim to become the best school in the world for leadership development. We also are focused on increased globalization, technology and global brand building. Our choice to purse MBA@UNC now supports several of these strategic initiatives.

Building educational partnerships is critical to our global engagement. In 2002 we launched the innovative OneMBA® Program, which was designed and is taught by five partner schools on four continents. This truly global executive MBA provides students with the opportunity to earn from the faculty and students from all five partner schools: Faculty of Business Administration at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); Tecnológico de Monterrey Graduate School of Business Administration and Leadership (EGADE); Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo da Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV-EAESP); and UNC Kenan-Flagler.

We went on to establish an undergraduate business program, GLOBE, in partnership with Chinese University of Hong Kong and Copenhagen Business School in 2004. Each year 45 students from the schools study together for 18 months at our campuses in Denmark, Hong Kong and the United States. Again, students learn first-hand from the professors at each school -- “local” experts -- about business operations and cultures in Asia, Europe and North America. (GLOBE recently won an award.)

We also partner with other schools for exchange programs and “Doing Business In,” which give opportunities for our MBAs to study abroad and explore other cultures during a one-week or two-week immersions at exchange partner schools.

A newer and significant partnership for UNC Kenan-Flagler is with Tsinghua University, one of China’s top universities. We founded the UNC-Tsinghua Center for Logistics and Enterprise Development in 2007, and, as a result of this successful research center, we are developing a dual degree program with Tsinghua’s Department of Industrial Engineering.
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February 01, 2011

Need of self-regulation in Indian B-Schools to improve quality

My article entitled 'Shouldering the Quality Responsibility' was published in EDU.

More than 50 years back, Ford Foundation in the US funded a report--Higher Education for Business--in response to the lack of quality in business management programs. The report highlighted that “academics at some [business] schools were more akin to quacks; and the curricula offered were narrow, simple and weak. The calibre of staff and students alike was condemned, with the authors calling for more research and less consulting work by faculty, improved regulation, fewer case studies, more theory and analysis, and more teaching of ethics”, according to The Economist.

Indian B-schools and management education are in not a very different state than US B-schools more than 50 years back. There are serious concerns of quality and inconsistencies in the system. Recent AICTE notification related to the regulation of Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) programs is a reflection some of the valid concerns about the quality of management education in India. Of course, this is perceived as restrictive by institutions and has created a lot of uncertainty and curiosity about the impact of the notification. 

I am certainly not supporting more regulation, however, I believe that regulation is a necessary evil in a fragile Indian higher education and and the history of institutional malpractices have not helped in gaining confidence of stakeholders. I argue that self-regulation through professionalisation is the most effective way to reduce interference and influence of external regulation.

Click here to read the full article. Any comments/thoughts?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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