Back in the mid-nineties, in a rush to cash in the exploding demand for higher and professional education, B-schools and Engineering colleges popped up all over the country with scant regard to quality standards.
Back in the mid-nineties, in a rush to cash in the exploding demand for higher and professional education, B-schools and Engineering colleges popped up all over the country with scant regard to quality standards. However, by the turn of the millennium, many of the fly-by-night operators started to shut down shop. There were, and still are, repercussions, but by and large in the last decade or so, the higher education scenario in India has undergone a definite improvement. Management institutions, in particular, have begun to display a certain maturity, in terms of infrastructure, faculty, pedagogy and curriculum amongst the Top 50 B-schools in the country. The conflicting list of 'Top 10' to 'Top 100' B-schools, produced annually by a number of media houses, bears testimony to this fact.
So what is the differentiator for the elite B-schools like IIM's, ISB's, XLRI etc.? A rather interesting trend seems to be quietly emerging. Apparently, the 'elite' quotient of B-schools is slowly and steadily based on the ability of a B-school to create managers for whom international boundaries are no longer barriers. In other words, elite B-schools are now the ones that have a multilingual, multiethnic student and faculty community, and whose students are knowledgeable of other cultures.
FORE School of Management, which has over the years maintained its place in the list of top Indian B-schools, has a very strong differentiator in its well designed Student Exchange Programme and International Immersion Programme (IIP). At the time of going to press, FORE had more than half a dozen foreign students studying in its campus. The institute has over the years steadily collaborated with renowned institutes across the globe. The current flavour is very much French, with the majority of the foreign students coming in from ESC Rennes, France. On the other side, 11 students of FORE School of Management are currently completing their credits at ESC Rennes in France.
Out of all these accomplishments, the IIP is making a significant impact. Last year, FORE School of Management sent its FMG and IMG students on a five-day IIP to Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong) and Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore respectively. For the second year in running, the entire batch of FMG (Future Managers Group) and IMG (International Managers Group), totalling 217 students along with 12 accompanying faculty members embarked on a weeklong IIP, rendering the FORE Campus literally deserted for the 5 days between 31st March and 4th April 2014. While 108 students attended the IIP at Nanyang Business School (NTU), Singapore, the other 109 students were at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
In effect, the IIP has established itself as an integral part of the PGDM programme at FORE in a very short period of time. Prof. Mohit Anand, the Professor-In-Charge of International Relations, FORE School of Management, explains: "The students had a unique and unmatched opportunity to understand the culture of a new place while also accumulating knowledge of its business environment. Considering the unique nature of this programme, subjects like "Management of Talented People" and "Cultural Difference and Its Influence" are taught by some of the finest faculty and experts in their respective fields. These sessions, spread across five days, provide valuable insights on how to adapt the cultural and social practices of the host country to an Indian context."
In fact, the elite B-schools are now moving towards customising these international programmes to groups of students. For instance, students at Hong Kong had a range of subjects, including the economy, banking industry, business environment, business culture and effective communication. Also, the IIP included Industrial visit(s). Students in Hong Kong were given a first-hand look at the operations of organisations like Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong Trade Development Centre SME Centre, New China Laundry, and Hong Kong Airlines.
Students at Singapore had subjects that dealt more with the essence of doing business in the biggest corporate hub in Asia. The subjects taught here were Asia in the Emerging Global Order, Sun Zi Bingfa and Competitive Leadership, Growth with Equities - The Singapore Economic Strategies, and Managing Talents in Asia's Emerging Markets. The industry visits in Singapore included its famous Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the state-of-the-art Port of Singapore Authority.
Surprisingly, there is no significant financial implication to the course fee owing to the International Immersion and International Exchange programmes. But a closer look reveals that these destinations are chosen with great care, and for a better Return of Investment. The better B-schools might, in the next few years, be regularly taking their entire batches to Europe or America for industrial exposure. This scenario, does not seem too far-fetched any longer.