Needs give rise to opportunities. This cardinal
principle of business has been well exhibited by the business schools in
the country. "Mushrooming" as termed by some academicians was
the call of time and some entrepreneurs ventured in the higher education
stratum and in 1990's business schools filled the gap that could not be
met by the public sector. The geometric expansion of students for higher
studies and its fulfilment by indigenous resources today can be termed
as a wise move; especially after the aftermath of September 11 when we
witness a denial of admission abroad to the students for political
reasons. Imagine the plight of our students if this gap had remained
The establishment of these private institutions can
be termed as the completion of first phase of development in the field
of education. These schools have the highest rate of return as compared
to any industry; therefore it would be wise to consider their inclusion
in the list of formal industries. They should also operate as per the
regulations applicable to other industries. It is also time that we
realize that these educational institutes are not merely business
ventures but also have a national and societal obligations to fulfil.
While the public sector universities have their code
of conduct and long term unified objectives it is amiss in the private
sector. At the most UGC controls their status and initial accreditation
but thereafter it is left to these institutes to chart their own
The role of UGC had been under discussion for some time and now some
guidelines have been issued. Beside the approval their role should
include effective monitoring, fee restrictions and future objectives for
these institutions that are time oriented.
The return of the provincial assemblies is being viewed skeptically by
some of the entrepreneurs in the field of education who feel that their
NOC's and accreditations would be unduly delayed due to bureaucratic red
The disseminatory role on behalf of universities for developing an
intimate interaction with the chamber of commerce and other ministries
should also be encouraged. Later this body could guide universities to
develop their curriculums and include new disciplines in cognizance with
the requirements of national imperatives. Presently it is left at the
whims of universities who later find that corresponding response is weak
from both the market and the students leading to wasteful utilization of
aspect which should be included in their domain is to ensure that
universities which are categorized as NGO's abide by its regulations.
This should not be a disguise to claim tax exemptions only.
higher education system lacks university-ranking criteria and tall
orders are claimed leading to confusion in the mind of students.
Although the foreign ranking credibility at times too is questioned yet
they have their benefits. This authority should lie with this
is the right of the students to choose their respective schools and
discipline. However the lack of coordination, intentional manipulation
during the recruitment campaign; the students are denied the right to
select their best choice. As the institutes reserve the right of
admitting students according to their criteria similarly the students
should have the option to select their best institute according to their
monetary constraints, intellectual levels and preferences. The UGC
should synchronize the selection and closure of admissions within the
same interval of time by all the universities.
Some of the institutes prefer to call their students
as mere customers, a myopic approach. The student community too is more
at home with this terminology! In actual fact the students are the
product of this industry and the markets are the real customers. At best
it is a relationship between a supplier and a consumer; the teacher
being the supplier and student a consumer. This clearer definition is
likely to reengineer our orientation and help us navigate toward ports
where bounties are abundant for every ship, captains, sailors and
passengers. Our dilemmas concerning breakevens, intellectual abuses and
arm-twisting from some quarters would be eliminated. Market
acceptability of graduates vividly differentiates those Schools; which
refine and polish their students and those, which only serve their
Quality should be the mainstay of education if our
goals are to remain meshed with national imperatives. The private
universities lack research projects due to lack of interaction with
industry and the industry's reservation of investing in this area;
although the schools are equipped with manpower, time and intelligence
to undertake these projects. The students are at times denied access for
internships, an important activity to correlate theory with practice.
The lack of this interface is felt in the classroom environment where
students can neither contribute meaningfully with their individual
experiences nor challenge any old-ridden dogmas and readily accept
instructions as delivered to them.
The level of coordination and areas of interaction
between the universities needs to be streamlined. It is time to shed
away the cocoon mentality and pool in our individual intellectual
resources for the benefit of all. The spirit of competitiveness should
be replaced by the philosophy of collaboration amongst these educational
institutions. In doing so they would be applying the second cardinal of
business; cumulative business will increase if their policies are
unified. Students anywhere need the best resources; for this is how we
instill in them the highest ethical standards of team working.
Faculty sharing is the first step in this direction. In the areas of
specialization there appears a deficiency of tutors as well as adequate
class strengths. The institutes instead of dissipating their meager
resources can concentrate and share in areas of their respective
competencies and add more value to the final product. This would also
develop inter university communication leading to refinement in the
curriculum and healthy competition.
Our present academic benchmarks are foreign based which needs to be
corrected. There are plenty of public and private enterprises that can
acclaim to fill these positions and should extend their helping hand.
There never has been a formal forum between the private universities
where individual or combined problems have been highlighted. Seminars,
teaching workshops and student competitions will help bridge these
Business faculty is another question where academia- industry
cooperation is required. Business faculty lacking work experience will
never be able to translate theoretical concepts nor relate them to local
conditions. Probably this is the reason that there is no indigenous
textbook used at any of the business schools. Experienced managers from
the industry should be loaned by the organizations during the mornings
to take study assignments. Such mutual experiences would have long-term
Business schools are now vying to elevate their
status to university level by offering diverse disciplines for study.
However their approach in this regard lacks meticulous planning,
national orientation and research. Universities should shirk to venture
into newer disciplines at this infantile stage of growth but supplement
the disciplines where the public sector cannot cope up. The traditional
disciplines although well covered by the public sector but do not fulfil
the needs of market and need to be supplemented. There remains a vast
gap in the fields of agricultural technology, textile engineering and
public administration. Some of the areas where they need to venture are:
Supervisory class in all spheres of business lack formal training and
education. At most business and industrial organizations are able to
impart narrow focused technical courses but not intensive all-round
education. Due to this deficiency the intellectual gap between managers
and employees is ever on the increase. This adds on to the work
pressures for managers who cannot delegate work due to lack of
proficiency in supervisory cadre. Organizations mesh up as teams only
when all tiers of management energize towards goals.
One reason for not carrying out this vertical integration by the
universities is that stakeholders perceive that programs of such nature
would affect their status adversely. This untapped resource although may
not give premium profitability but their contribution margin in term of
revenues due to sheer numbers will offset any monetary disadvantages. We
have probably lost sight that the present network of universities
especially in UK became possible when their polytechnic institutes were
elevated to the status of universities.
Our business schools are marketing or manufacturing oriented. This is
not in consonance with either our economy or national resource base.
Marketing of agricultural products, distribution of perishables and
their penetration in the international markets are some areas where the
business schools should concentrate.
The orientation of students on graduation is to find an urban- based
job. The present glut of unemployment of these specialists is so since
their education cost has reached disproportionate ratios and therefore
lesser modest options are not even examined. "Agribusiness"
schools is more an answer to our problems where these specialists would
find ready employments, meaningful satisfaction and would integrate
themselves in the economic development of the country.
Beside the internal problems faced by students there
are some areas where they have no influence and resultantly can only
feel frustrated. A large number of students in business schools take
evening program at their own expense, a healthy orientation! However
their parent organizations neither provide any support nor relaxation in
terms of work hours. This forum is being used to voice their concern and
the realization that up gradation of their skills would eventually serve
the better interest of organizations.
Business education has become a lucrative opportunity
and a necessity. It is gaining grounds as a double-edged weapon if left
unbridled. The need to keep it quality controlled, mission oriented and
credible is only possible if there is an intense interaction between the
government, industry and the business schools. A faltering at this stage
is likely to mar progress made so far.
THE AUTHOR IS DIRECTOR OF ACADEMICS AT PAF-KIET.