AACSB accreditation forced us to measure our performance in teaching: ISB Hyderabad Dean

The Indian School of Business, Hyderabad on Friday became the first South Asian management institute to get accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), widely regarded as the gold standard of all quality benchmarks among business schools internationally.

The accreditation, which took more than four years to come by, will help ISB provide a direct assurance of quality to students, faculty and other international schools as well as improve ISB’s ability to attract international students, ISB Dean Ajit Rangnekar told PaGaLGuY during a telephonic interview.

He described the accreditation as independent and robust, involving a large volume of information sharing and paperwork and requiring the school to undergo severalchanges in its management processes and internal functioning.

“The process called upon us to prove how exactly we were executing our mission statement of creating cutting-edge research, producing business leaders, engaging with the government and society and bringing together high quality faculty. Every small thing was checked and inputs were asked for from our recruiters, alumni and partner schools,” Mr Rangnekar explained.

“The accreditation led us to revamp our curriculum and formulate standards for assurance of learning, which going forward will help measure our performance in teaching management. For example, we will be able to find out how good we are at inculcating critical thinking, ethical thinking or a global perspective among our students using instruments that are now built into our internal system,” he elaborated.

During the process of accreditation, the institute was mentored by a team led by Prof VK Unni from Bryant University, Rhode Island and comprising academic administrators belonging to other schools from Texas, California and Taiwan.

ISB’s AACSB stamp will be valid for 5 years after which the institute will have to go for reaccreditation. At present, 643 business schools across the world are AACSB accredited, of which most are in the USA.

Even though the AACSB seal will help ISB push the envelop in its efforts to get more international students, Mr Rangnekar said that certain intrinsic factors of India would continue to prevent foreign students from coming in in large numbers.

“The truth is that students flock to a foreign country to study for two main reasons. First, if the institution is really famous for something, as Stanford is for technology entrepreneurship or Wharton is for Finance. Second, if that country itself is an interesting emigration destination for some reason, like Australia is. Unfortunately, India does not have either of the two to offer yet,” Mr Rangnekar said, adding that none of India’s major industry sectors — whether IT, automobiles or farming — were attractive propositions for foreign professionals. “Some international companies are setting up research centers in India. Maybe they have a chance at attracting foreign professionals,” he said.

He said that under the current conditions, Indian schools could continue to get non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin. But it is difficult to expect more than 5% of the class at a school such as ISB to comprise of students of foreign origin

“Besides, foreigners are not comfortable studying a PGPM degree. What they want is an MBA degree,” he added, indirectly referencing the refusal of India’s educational regulatory bodies to approve one-year MBA programmes and allow autonomous schools to grant MBA degrees. Ironically, despite a top-20 rank in Financial Times World MBA Rankings, Mr Rangnekar’s presence on the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and now the AACSB accreditation, ISB Hyderabad remains an unrecognised b-school in India.

ISB is waiting for some of the education-related legislations in India’s parliament to be passed before it could think of legitimising itself, Mr Rangnekar said. “As of now, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) does not recognise 15-month management degrees. So we are waiting for bills such as the Foreign Universities Regulation Act or the Innovation Universities Bill to be passed to see how we could use one of them to get recognition for ISB,” he explained.

Asked to comment on the prospects of top international b-schools setting up campuses in India, Mr Rangnekar said, “I think that the Harvards and Whartons will come to India to understand its markets and offer executive education. But I doubt they will set up full-fledged campuses offering MBA degrees in India. Running a campus is a big hassle. Both the campus and the faculty are fixed costs, which they would rather maintain in the US and attract international students there rather than opening a campus here in India.”

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