Thursday, April 01, 2010

Foreign Universities: mentoring a better entry route

I said in an earlier post that I was sceptical about quality, foreign universities setting up full-fledged campuses in India. that is because the economics of higher education militates against their entry.

Quality comes from putting together the best faculty, infrastructure and students. If foreign universities are to maintain their standards in India, they will have to send some of their faculty to India. That would mean huge faculty costs. Quality infrastructure would also be expensive.

Put the two together and you have a high fee. If an MBA costs Rs 45 lakh in the US, it would cost around Rs 25-30 lakh here. If you spend Rs 45 lakh in the US, you can hope to recoup it in reasonable time because you will be earning in dollars. Recouping Rs 25-30 lakh in India is not as easy. So, a fee of this order will shut out the mass market and the best students. Schools charging such fees will be rich kids' schools. Then, you don't get a high quality of output.

It makes more sense for foreign universities to go down the mentoring route. I read that this is proposed for Yale's association with the 14 innovation universities planned. There are precedents for this- the setting up of IITs and IIMs.

IIMA benefited from a collaboration with HBS, the expenses being underwritten by the Ford Foundation. HBS faculty came in batches of about three at a time for about five years. The big gain was IIMA faculty being sent in batches of about six to the International Teachers' Programme at HBS for a nine-month stint. It got faculty who had joined from diverse backgrounds to get quickly acquainted with the course contents and pedagogy of a top b-school and it also made for a certain common approach and camaraderie amongst the early faculty. This is one reason why IIMA made a quick mark as an institution of excellence.

Faculty exchanges, help with the curriculum, governance structures and norms- these are areas where mentoring would make differenc. Foreign universities can earn fees and they have an opportunity to carry out India-related research. This makes more sense than foreign universities coming in.

More in my ET column, Foreign varsities as mentors.


仲亨仲亨 said...


Pranam said...

I have a question -I feel what you said is easier said than done. The big universities always want to tag along with top tier Indian universities. How does a tier two Indian university hook up with HBS ?

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Ram Mohan,

Just happened to visit your blog through a comment u had left on Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan's blog back in 2007 but let me tell u one thing, I am more than disappointed having read some of your posts. You seem to be a person of great caliber and competencies (and that's y a faculty member at IIMA) however your posts seems not to suggest that.

I know I am being very rude to u here. Believe me the intention is not to be rude but to give u an honest feedback.

It is good to be deeply involved with the work u do and the organisations u work for but sometimes u dont realise when u hv crossed the line from marketing ur college well to deploying unethical means to show others down and misguide ur readers. I believe thr might be a lot of students, industry experts, academicians and other people who follow ur blog. Provide biased information and showing the half truth leading to building wrong perceptions among ur readers is not really an ethical stance to stand up to. Neither is such an act expected of a person of ur caliber.

Please take these harsh comments as positives as no offense is meant as such. Just an expectation from u to be a little more responsible.

The post I skimmed through were the posts about entry of foreign universities, the posts about fee hike at IIMC, IIMA and some other posts tagged under label IIMs.

If u still dont believe me, just read and compare the posts on fee hike issues and see how u just presented on the table facts about IIMA fee hike trying to justify the fee hike with financials against the over-critical remarks on IIMC raising it to mere half the level of IIMA then. And damn it you know it well no matter how much people fight over which one is better, there is no point comparing the two legends.

Alumni of one the IIMs

T T Ram Mohan said...


I am more mildly surprised at your comment. I have never sought to justify the fee hikes at IIMA and, in fact, have questioned the rationale for the same. Could you pl tell me exactly which posts you are referring to?

Incidentally, I am an alumnus of IIMC.