14 b-school ‘USPs’ that MBA aspirants don’t care about much

In the last one decade, there are some common things that business schools in India have showcased to lure students to their MBA or equivalent programmes. Due to the excessive usage of these so called Unique Selling propositions by almost every private b-school, these terms have now become irrelevant and are no more associated with the way aspirants think about choosing their b-schools.

The following terminology is often used by b-schools to attract aspirants. I will take each one by one and explain why none of them is anything worth boasting about at all.

1. Approvals – of the programme (mostly the AICTE, and at other times the NAAC, UGC, etc). This no longer has any significance as most of the 2,000 odd b-schools with these approvals are the ones sulking the most and possibly are the worst examples of how a b-school shouldn’t be. The only quality AICTE-approved b-schools are the one that have been around for long and will flourish despite or without AICTE approvals.

2. Air-conditioned campus – How does it matter?

3. Well-stocked Library – Isn’t this the bare minimum required facility in any MBA programme? How can it be a unique selling proposition?

4. Free Laptop – Sounds like some kind of a free alarm-clock-cum-radio being offered along with a magazine subscription to attract people to join. Why would someone who is investing Rs six lakh in fees and expenses worry about a laptop worth Rs 20,000? More so, how can this be a salient feature of an MBA programme?

5. 100% Placements, Placement partners – A closer look will reveal how much of this is true. Some in the sector speak of horrific stories of how HR departments of companies are paid money by b-schools to get the student an offer for three months and then chuck him out. If this is true, then its a big scandal in itself. The important question is – Do I want to join an Educational institute or a Placement Agency to find me a job? Moreover, even the top-20 (by any definition) b-schools do not manage 100% placements, so how can these private b-schools even dream of doing so?

6. Additional programmes in SAP, Super-specializations – This is actually laughing-stock material. I mean, there are so many more elective course credits available for students in some of the best b-schools that something like this is hilarious.

7. Hostel facility – What about a hostel is a key feature or a unique selling proposition?

8. Visiting Faculty from XYZ b-schools (usually the IIMs or XLRI) – Which means that the schools own fulltime faculty strength is either low or nil and therefore academic rigour is absent. Employing visiting faculty is always a way of saving costs for any b-school. Which means that a large part of the fees being charged by them is going straight into their pockets — but certainly not into many professors fulltime salary accounts.

9. Hygienic canteen – As if the food in all other campuses is killing aspirants.

10. Wi-fi campus – This is the biggest farce of all. If one belonged to the 1980s, they may say wow to that. But the current young generation, which takes technology in daily life for granted, will find this mention amusing.

11. Scholarships – This usually means discount. It turns education into some kind of a bargainable commodity. This word has been overused and aspirants have no respect for something like this anymore. Most students now consider a b-school advertising scholarships as too desperate. Moreover, any b-school which treats education as a bargainable commodity is likely to treat it exactly as that when it comes to delivering the goods.

12. International Curriculum – Some even go the lengths of claiming that their curriculum reflects those of Harvard’s or Wharton’s. For the small section of people who are not in the know this might be an attraction, but any MBA aspirant who does even the minimum research, this is a lie. One cannot ever replicate the curriculum of these Universities because the kind of course credits available in those schools and the resultant number of teaching hours require a huge fulltime faculty-strength (upwards of 300) that even the best in India havent been able to execute.

13. Ranked X in India – There are so many b-school rankings in the country now, that every private b-school has a chance to get into a top position in some or the other rankings and still have room for more. So many private b-schools now claim to have a good b-school rank that aspirants have become blind to the word.

14. B-school backed by IIM alumni – Great educational institutions are formed by academics from top universities and not business professionals who have been trained to work in the industry. Moreover, there are all kinds of people graduating from an IIM — some become good managers and some dont. Without going into the individual credentials of each of the purported IIM alumni backers, this argument is pure rhetoric. In many cases, this IIM alumni promoter is a rich man with lots of spare cash who isnt averse to making a small side-investment in an educational venture as long as he doesnt have involve himself in the day-to-day functioning — and in exchange the b-school copiously uses his name for marketing itself.

Several b-schools that form an immaculate marketing campaign around the above often wonder why it is not translating to proportionate application form sales or enquiries. As the academic-session date draws closer, these b-schools then have to buy contact number databases of MBA aspirants from various sources and fill up their seats after a large-scale telemarketing exercise. That does get them students, but never the good quality students that will get these b-schools anywhere near a long-lasting reputation.

If b-schools avoid these terms and start properly identifying themselves with aspirants, it will translate into better response for bschools in every possible way. The question is — would they have anything substantial to talk about if they choose to omit these terms from their advertisements?

Related reads

  • The ‘B-school brochure deconstruction guide’
  • Why over 1,500 b-schools in India could shut down in the next two years
  • Walking the tightrope: What is it like to start a new business school in these times

The author heads the Sales and Marketing team at PaGaLGuY.com.

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