PARAMETERS FOR VERIFYING THE CREDENTIALS OF A B-SCHOOL
Placement quality is undoubtedly one of the key parameters used – and rightly so – by most students to judge the quality of the B-School they are considering joining. Almost all students clearly have a very firm eye on the salary they would get after their MBA. They are also justifiably interested in the quality of the job they would land and the prospects that it would bring.
However, placement data cannot be taken at face value. It needs a fair amount of checking out before one can come to any correct conclusions about the status of placements in a B-School. A large number of management institutes quote astonishing salary figures, with a few of them seeming too good to be true - and truly speaking, they may end up being just that! While these claims may not be outright lies, they could be cleverly camouflaged by clubbing joining bonuses, variable pay and other add-ons. It would be worthwhile to scrutinize these numbers carefully and consider the median salaries (wherever provided) rather than the average salaries as they would give one a better picture of how most members of the batch were placed. Also, having a look at the kind of companies visiting a campus would give one an idea of how industry views that B-School.
(b) Quality of faculty
This parameter helps you judge the quality of the input you can expect at a B-School. All top B-Schools make significant investments to attract and retain a top notch faculty team. Most top B-Schools have a judicious mix of full-time and part-time faculty members. The full-time faculty team provides the continuity and monitoring that is needed over the two-year period, apart from providing any hand-holding required by students. The part-time faculty team gives students the much needed external exposure, especially in terms of contacts with industry and access to real time projects.
(c) Quality of students
The quality of students on campus makes a huge difference on account of the interaction that students have with their peers. A significant proportion of the learning at any good B-School happens outside class and fairly large part of this comes from peer learning. A great deal of learning at any B-School is on account of group activities such as assignments and projects. Hence, better the peers, richer is the learning experience. The quality of the selection process (in terms of the percentile/score cut off in the written exam, the rigorousness of the GD/Essay-writing/Interview) adopted by the institute gives one an idea about the quality of the students it admits.
(d) Quality of infrastructure
Infrastructure is the element that transforms a set of buildings into a holistic place fit for impartment of quality education. State-of-the-art computer labs, high-speed internet connectivity, a well-stocked library with subscriptions to management journals, and classrooms furnished with audio-visual aids form a few of these must-haves. Any institute that does not have these facilities can hardly be called top-class. Also, a fully-residential programme fosters all-round development as the period of interaction with peers and faculty is not restricted, and hence scores over a day-scholar programme.
(e) Image of the Institute
The 'brand image' of a B-School in the student community and its acceptance in the industry circles is one of the key considerations while choosing B-Schools. While it can be said that it is natural for older institutes to have a better reputation than those that have started recently, it cannot always be generalized. Also, the situation is slightly different when a new campus is set up by an older, well-established institute. In such cases, the 'parent/guardian' institute certainly helps the new institute through its formative years. This help may include, but may not be limited to, faculty support, admissions support, and, most importantly, placement support.
The long-term advantages of association with a good brand often overhauls the short-term parameters, such as 'salary'. Students should understand that the brand value of B-Schools, like the IIMs, has the power to open avenues and get a candidate an interview, both in the short and long terms. In fact, even long after a student has graduated from an institute, she/he will benefit from the power of its brand image.
What needs to be kept in mind is that just as schools want good students, students want good schools too. The brand value of the old school will work for the new location and will help in pulling in good students, thus helping the school to do well in a very short span of time. Not only students, the image of the school helps in attracting faculty as well. The six new IIMs (Kashipur, Raipur, Ranchi, Rohtak, Trichy, and Udaipur) stand testimony to this – their CAT cut off is very close (in some cases higher) to that of the older IIMs (like IIMA), clearly showing that only the best of the students are selected. The professors at these schools are some of the best names in management education.
(f) Location of the B-School
Location of a B-School is another important parameter as placements tend to be better at institutes located in places where there is a concentration of business and industry. This is because companies find it much easier to recruit management graduates from institutes located geographically closer to their own headquarters rather than visit an institute located far away. Location also plays a role in a B-School's ability to attract and retain top quality faculty. The location impact is less pronounced for the top schools while it becomes more important as we move down the ratings list. We can look at the six new IIMs again to understand that in spite of the non-metro nature of their locations, these IIMs are able to attract the best of students and faculty.
With the number of B-Schools growing rapidly, the ability to place students has come under scrutiny for schools outside the top 50. With the fee being charged by many of them also rising sharply, it is necessary to ensure that the return on the fee being invested also works out to be reasonable. It could, however, be said that fee is a non-issue for the top 50 B-schools. Loans are fairly easily available for studying at these schools and the ability of the students to repay their loans is also high due to the good placements offered by these schools. Banks offer collateral-free loan for all the top schools. Some banks have classified schools into categories where the students from the top category schools get collateral-free loans at a lower interest rate. As one moves down into other categories, banks may demand a collateral or have a slightly higher interest rate or both.