(Photo credit: Archit Srivastava, as an entry to the B-school Shutterbug Photo Contest 2010)
After years of being meted out step-fatherly treatment by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), b-schools that offer one-year MBA courses now have reason to cheer. The AICTE has just about approved the one-year Post Graduate Program in Management (PGPM) conducted by Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai.
This move is expected to ease the granting of approvals to similar programmes in other management institutes too. The approval to Great Lakes has however been issued under the 'certificate program' category and not the full-fledged diploma category which is usually awarded to two-year management programs. Under AICTE guidelines, programmes which are of less than two years duration are considered 'certificate programmes'. For a 'diploma programme', the duration of the course has to be two years or 15 months, with a stress on the applicant's prior work experience. Apparently, the approval came about after stringent norms laid out by the AICTE concerning issues like infrastructure, faculty and student strength were met with by Great Lakes.
According to Prof R Sriram, Executive Director at Great Lakes, the college had earlier applied for approval for its 12-month course in 2006. But nothing came by then, since AICTE as a practice did not approve of one-year courses in management. The institute applied once again in 2009 when it learnt that the AICTE had relaxed its stand on the issue. The second application was followed by a number of visits by the AICTE officials to the Great Lakes campus, interactions at different level with faculty and a thorough check on the different facilities and services on the complex. The approvals also had to go through a string of nods from the regional AICTE office, apart from its headquarters in Delhi.
When asked whether the approval was just a fancy seal or would it have a bearing on the quality of education imparted, or the reputation of the college, Prof Sriram said it would not impact either. "Students have been opting for these courses anyway, even when the AICTE had not approved it." However, Prof Sriram was certain that the approval would help students to get jobs in the government or in public sector companies, where the AICTE stamp is a necessary requirement. Prof Sriram also states that the approval will help Indians who worked for Indian companies abroad and want to switch companies within that location. "In such cases too, clearance from immigration offices and other local offices become easier when there is a government stamp on your degree.
However, Great Lakes has encountered very few students who have had dismal job prospects for not having studied in a government-approved programme, he claimed. "But this number can go up in the future. Presently, few people must be switching jobs because of this issue. They can now," added Prof Sriram. Thirdly, the approval will also help remove the 'unnecessary nuisance value' associated with not having an AICTE approval for a course. "It's just a nagging issue, nothing else. If something is written in the media about non-approved courses and your school's name figures there, it is just irritating." AICTE approvals do help in the branding and marketing of an institute.