Student Exchanges: Internationalization of B-Schools

A recent story in the New York Times highlights the trend among US business schools to widen the scope of international learning experiences for full time MBA students. Adding international experiences strengthens student learning, expands faculty research and enhances prestige of the institution in an increasing competitive environment.

Even in India, international collaborations are emerging as one major area of pursuit especially among the leading business schools. For example, premier institutions like ISB , IIM-AIIM- B , and MDI have already built extensive student exchange programs.

One of major challenge for Indian institutions face is to convince prospective partners about their ability to deliver quality experience to international students. This challenge seems to be of greater magnitude in attracting the US B-schools as compared to European B-schools.  For example. IIM-A has partnered with only 9 American B-schools as compared to 26 European B-schools. Likewise, for IIM-B of the 93 exchange B-schools only 15 are from the US.

This skew poses challenges for partners on both sides in terms of managing the demand and supply of students. For example, IIM-A website states that “The number of outgoing students benefiting from the [exhcange] programme has risen from 6 to 94 and incoming students from 16 to 55 in the same period.” This means that there are more Indian students interested in studying abroad as compared to foreign students coming to India.

While India has gained lot of attention for its economic growth and impact on the world economy it has still not caught eye of American MBA students for spending a semester of study. This is also evident from the IIE OpenDoors, China (11,000) attracts nearly four times study abroad students from the US as compared to India (2,600).

Given the global ambitions of some of the Indian B-schools, building and sustaining portfolio of high quality exchange programs is one of the critical steps in achieving global excellence. It builds the platform for bigger and more reputed form of collaborations.

To build and sustain global exchange programs, Indian B-schools should consider the long-term implication of these relationships. They should become more strategic, assertive and articulate in communicating and delivering quality of experience to exchange partners and building brand advocates.

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