MBA curriculum will undergo significant review: NMIMS Vice Chancellor

An artist’s impression of the proposed new NMIMS campus in Mumbai

Dr Rajan Saxena, Vice-Chancellor, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai talks about the new campus, factors that will determine changes in the approach (curriculum) to an MBA programme, and the institute’s campuses at Hyderabad and Bangalore. Author of a book on marketing and co-chair of the Higher Education Committee, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Dr Saxena talks about the plans for the new NMIMS campus.

Rajan Saxena

When is the new NMIMS campus expected to become operational? What land size are we looking at?

The new campus will be set up exactly at the same place where the old NMIMS institute existed opposite Mithibai College in Ville Parle (West). The old building had been pulled down three years ago. It will be spread over 1.2 acres. It will be a nine-storeyed building in addition to two basement levels, one of which will have a parking area and the other will have the auditorium. The way we have conceptualised it, almost 60% of the area would be made available to the b-school part of NMIMS University. The way we are positioning our infrastructure, classrooms will be encouraged to impart 360-degree learning as opposed to a conventional classroom, which is a lecture theatre. The 360-degree learning environment will enable interaction, where the faculty would act as a facilitator. We are looking at making the classroom a significant learning centre to encourage participant centric learning, which is why we are paying attention to micro-level details of the seating plans, teaching gadgets, multiple boards and the working stations of the faculty and students. This would be in line with the infrastructure of the world’s best b-schools. Besides this, the building will be ecologically friendly and therefore, accordingly certified (LEED certified). It is also going to be friendly to differently-abled individuals, so that they can access the resources of the institute without assistance. NMIMS has always been tech-savvy and new campus will also be strong on this aspect, apart from Internet, telecom and communication capability. Technology wise, it will be a step ahead. In addition to the b-school, there shall also be a central library, which will comprise a large number of books, journals and database. Other than this, there will also be a university office of the vice chancellor and the registrar. We hope to be operational in our campus by the fag end of 2012 or by early to mid 2013.

Are there any new programmes that shall be rolled out in the future? Any curriculum changes?

Given the global and national economic changes, it is certain that the MBA programme will undergo a significant review. Some of the mega trends that are visible are diffusion of economic power at the global level. Power currently rests across the world. Students’ ability to understand and manage risks in multiple geographies becomes a humongous task. The factors that will trigger a curriculum change will be youth power, technology, social media, ethics and social sensitivity.

The youth has the power to bring down governments. It is the power of the youth that has brought about a huge anti-corruption movement in the country. From its earlier lackadaisical approach, the government has become alert. This power of the youth needs to be captured in the management discipline. Companies will also have to look at ways of channelising the power of the youth. Students are also going to demand an MBA programme that has a shorter duration. Now, the question is should the conventional two-year programme stay or must it be replaced.

Technology is shaping the world. Invariably, the classroom learning has a high cost. The question is, can technology be used for the purpose of delivering programmes in such a way that it would be available on a 24×7 mode. The idea is to utilise technology for creating a new learning paradigm. MBA curriculum will have to be revisited. It also needs to be considered how the social media can be integrated in the curriculum.

The anti-corruption campaign has brought to fore the issue of ethics and how the MBA curriculum needs to respond to it.

It is difficult to talk about the exact changes that will be brought about. These things are reviewed by the industry, faculty, international partners and the alumni. In the first quarter of 2012, we will undergo a massive review process, get back to the drawing room, identify existing gaps and then implement the modifications and deletions in our curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation system. As far as the decision regarding rollout of new MBA programmes is concerned, that will be dependent on the inferences drawn by the review.

Are you planning to revise your fee structure, as a result of the setting up of the new campus?

We haven’t given a thought to revision of fee structure. It is not about recovering costs simply because of the infrastructure development. Other factors also have to be assessed with regard to this, such as the quality of learning being imparted, the cost of learning resources. It is important that these be perceived as great value-for-money. We consider several facets of the institute such as the rankings, placements, manpower cost (faculty salaries). We are currently in the process of a budgeting exercise, so there may or may not be a fee hike. As far as our fee hikes in the past are concerned, the norm has always been a hike in the range of 2% to 5%. Decisions regarding fee hike go through several stages, such as the fee-fixation and recommendation committee, after which it is forwarded to the board, which assesses the situation. Based on the projection of costs for 2012-2013, the need for a fee hike will be determined. Placements is the biggest challenge. Non-performing assets are on the increase, which increases the chance of bad debt or credit default.

When will the Bangalore and Hyderabad campuses of NMIMS get fully-functional?

We are currently functioning from our temporary campus at Koramangala in Bangalore, which has an area of about 80,000 square feet. The new campus will be located in Bannerghatta, where we have acquired 7 acres of land. Hopefully, the first phase of the b-school should become operational by mid 2013. We also plan to add other divisions eventually to the Bangalore campus. The Hyderabad campus will span an area of 90 acres. The first phase of the new campus should be up and running by the later part of 2012 or early 2013. We do have PGDM courses in Bangalore and Hyderabad. The University Grants Commission team has already visited our Bangalore campus and approved it; we are waiting for clearence from the Ministry of the Human Resource Development to convert the PGDM into an MBA. The Hyderabad campus is still to be assessed by the UGC; they have a No-objection Certificate from the government of Andhra Pradesh as of now.