IIPM: Mocking at Quality of Indian Higher Education?

IIPM and Arindam Chaudhuri have been synonymous with advertisements shouting "Dare to think beyond the IIMs!" (Here is Hoot's analysis on IIPM's advertisements). It took audacity (often to the limit of brashness) and entrepreneurial grit to equate oneself with big brands like IIMs. IIPM enrolls more than 5000 students across 8 campuses with more than 400 faculty members.

So, what's the issue? The issue is better understood if you see the advertisements of IIPM like below. What's the brand "promise" to a prospective student? They are most likely to see "MBA/BBA/EMBA" along with major brands like Cornell and Stern.


However, FAQs on IIPM website mentions:
"1. Does AICTE/UGC [Indian regulatory bodies] recognize IIPMs programme in planning and entrepreneurship?
No. IIPM has never sought recognition from any statutory bodies and is proud of its world class course contents. Students bothered about statutory recognition of IIPMs programmes need not apply to IIPM....
2. Does IIPM award an MBA/BBA degree?
No. In India degrees can be awarded only by universities and therefore just like the IIMs, even IIPM (which is not an university) does not offer an MBA/BBA degree."
This disconnect and misrepresentation comes at a huge price to students (In fact, someone has started a website called IIPM is a scam!). IIPM's approach also made some leading brands like Stanford to issue a letter about IIPM's false claims. IIPM is also a classic case of how slow and toothless higher education quality assurance system in India is. Based on complaints, UGC expressed concerns in 2005 and then again in 2010, however, IIPM continues to grow using it's tried and tested method of advertising and ignoring regulation. 

"The University Grants Commission is not happy with the Indian Institute of Planning and Management offering an MBA degree. UGC says no institute in the country can offer a degree course without its approval and IIPM does not have its go ahead.
Advertisements by IIPM in leading dailies across the country have been promising students a degree in MBA. But the fine print in the ad says the institute does not come under the purview of the UGC." 
2010
"...University Grants Commission (UGC) made it clear that the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), run by Arindam Chaudhuri, is not recognised by the government or any of India’s higher education bodies"

More recently, Siddhartha Deb wrote an incisive article “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes.”  (I can't even provide the link to the article as court has ordered to remove the article). Of course, Dean Chaudhuri did not like it and sued the author, magazine and Google (yes, you read it right--Google) for defamation. Here is the press release by Caravan magazine which published Deb's article and has been sued by IIPM.

Interestingly, there are many more unrecognized institutions in India. According to a government response, AICTE and UGC have received 101 and 23 complaints respectively about alleged malpractices. We still remember the fuss and attention Tri Valley scam in the US received , however, there are many Tri Valley's in India and nothing is being done. At least, in the case of TVU, it is now defunct, while Indian regulation is restricted to paperwork and rhetoric. In March 2010, "The Prohibition of Unfair Practices" bill was approved by the Cabinet, however it is yet to be approved by the Parliament.

IIPM's approach raises several questions about the profession and quality assurance of higher education in India:
  • Is IIPM misleading students or offering a unique choice? 
  • Is Arindam Chauduri an inspiration or disgrace for education fraternity including faculty and entrepreneurs?
  • What does it say about Indian quality assurance environment? Why worry about foreign universities bill when one can always work-around it?
  • If you are a foreign university looking for collaborations in India, how do you distinguish between "recognized" and "unrecognized" institutions? What are the implications for your institutional brand?
  • How does one distinguish between institutions like ISB and IIPM when both are not recognized by AICTE? (ISB is ranked #12 in Financial Times). What brand risk a foreign institution is assuming in forging partnerships?
This is one issue on which I have more questions than answers. Any thoughts/comments/answers?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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