XLRI Singapore unable to start Full Time course, applicants unsure of refund

The Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management (PGDBM) course, publicized around the same time last year through extensive advertising and media PR was to inherit the syllabus as it is taught at XLRI Jamshedpur. While XLRI, Jamshedpur was to provide the intellectual capital, a Singapore-based agency named ‘Image International (Singapore) Private Limited’ was to manage the show and the campus in Singapore. The professors were to fly all the way from XLRI, Jamshedpur to the Singapore campus to teach. The school got nearly 400 applicants for the course of which 85 had already paid a non-refundable processing fee of S$50 (nearly Rs 1,500) each.

However today, XLRI, Singapore is quietly running only a Part Time PGDBM course with 15 hours of classroom teaching on weekends and projects and assignments rest of the week. The full-time course has failed to take off. The part-time degree is valid by AICTE norms only if one studies for three years.

What went wrong with the full-time course? When contacted Dr Rajashree Murthy, Director, Image International, XLRI Singapore said, “We couldn’t get sufficient number of quality students and therefore we didn’t start the course.” Interestingly, XLRI, Jamshedpur is a strong brand in India and receives more than 70,000 applications for its PGDBM course. Dr Murthy refused to comment on the number of applications received for the Singapore course and said that ‘everything was confidential within the Management’.

However, our sources had a different story to tell. An internal source on request of anonymity told PaGaLGuY that the institute had received around 400 applications out of which around 85 applicants had more than 90 percentile in the XAT or an equivalent score in GMAT or GRE and had paid the processing fees of S$50. The source informed that XLRI Jamshedpur had never agreed upon more than about 10 students for the full-time course, while Image International began to see potential for more. Eventually there was disagreement and both XLRI, Jamshedpur and Image International decided to call off the full-time PGDBM course in Singapore.

All this while, these students were kept in the dark about the status of the course for a month, adding to their agony and uncertainty. The applicants had been informed that telephonic selection interviews would take place between February 20 and 25, 2007. But no interviews took place during that time.

Instead, around March 23, the Director Dr Rajshree Murthy started calling up the shortlisted students, asking them to consider the part-time course since they could not start the full-time course. Only 8 of these applicants took up the course.

So in effect, XLRI Singapore got about 85 people to pay S$50 each for a course that they never started! Although the processing fee was quoted non-refundable in the prospectus, there are questions on whether it ought to be refunded if the product advertised never saw the light of day.

The XLRI Singapore administration is tight-lipped about refunds, even as most students have resigned to ever seeing their money back. Dr Murthy refused to answer our questions about the status of refunds.

Rachit Jain, a Research Associate with Capital IQ, who was among the 85 people who received a call about the part-time course says, “This issue was like a thorn in my life.” He further adds, “I made repeated attempts to get my money back from them but it was difficult because they were located far away in Singapore. I was trying hard to get a good job too as I had left a wonderful job earlier thinking of making into a b-school this year. Moreover, they (XLRI, Singapore) did not even send an official mail to notify and explain that the full-time course will not be conducted this year.”

It doesn’t end here. The part-time course that XLRI Singapore eventually started too is not fully in place. The current batch comprises of 27 students out of which 8 are from India and the remaining 19 are NRIs based in Singapore. Students are required to attend 15 contact hours on the weekend while they do projects and assignments on weekdays. Despite the fact that this is a weekend-MBA format, it interestingly manages to satisfy the norms of Ministry of Education, Singapore to be called a Full Time degree after two years. However for an AICTE recognition and validity in India, the course needs to run for a total of three years. That puts the students in a precarious position, since they’ll have to show placements in Singapore after two years, while showing AICTE that the course in fact ran for three years!

When contacted, XLRI Jamshedpur Director Father Casimir Raj completely denied the fact that XLRI, Jamshedpur had ever publicized a Full Time course and said, “I don’t know all that because only a Part Time course is running at XLRI, Singapore.”

Asked if XLRI, Singapore would try to start a Full Time PGDBM course again this year, he said, “We are planning for another Singapore campus and it is too late to say if it will happen in 2008. It will take time because land is a problem.”

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