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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

While MBA seems to be the natural choice of those wanting to pursue management studies, other two-year diploma courses are equally valid, says Professor Piyush Shah, as long they are approved by AICTE. He also corrects mistaken notions about PGDM courses, which he thinks are far more industry oriented.

One of the major decisions a management degree aspirant has to make is the college or course she wants to pursue. The problem is all the more acute thanks to the multiple degrees on offer – MMS, MBA, PGDM, PGDBM, PGPM, PGDIM, etc. In most cases, there are not sufficient differentiators among the various courses on offer. Since complete information is not available, students have to make assumptions and take potentially risky decisions based on these assumptions.

I have been a part of the faculty fraternity at two of major B-Schools in India. I have observed this behaviour in person. With a host of degrees on offer, aspirants are completely confused. There is a perception that MMS (Masters in Management Studies) and MBA (Master in Business Administration) are degree programs whereas the other programs are diplomas. This is where the confusion starts. Having taught both MMS and the “diploma” programs, I can vouch that as far as equivalence is concerned; all two year programs approved by AICTE or affiliated to a University are the same. There is no difference in the validity or acceptance of these courses. The only factor is; the course should be approved by AICTE.

Why these different names?
This is more an administrative act. AICTE has created two clear segments. The awards given by universities or university affiliated institutes are called “Masters” degrees. The awards given by AICTE recognised autonomous institutes are called Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM). Since IIM’s are not universities, they offer PGDM. Same is the case with S.P. Jain and other autonomous institutes. Mumbai University confers the MMS degree, while Pune University confers the MBA degree.

This issue of nomenclature was created to merely ensure a clear demarcation of the origin of the award. There was no intention to create two levels of awards and the degree is in no way superior to the diploma. One important thing to be noted here is that all other awards like PGDBM, PGPM and PGDIM are not mentioned in the post graduate program in management list of AICTE. Students pursuing programs that are not approved by AICTE may find it difficult if they want to seek employment in a government sector or pursue higher studies.

Then why PGDM?
Universities in India are very slow in adopting their curriculum to the changing industry demand. This is why you do not get an MMS in retail management or an MBA in Financial Markets, though these are the fastest growing segments. The PGDM on the other hand, is designed and developed by the college and is far more flexible in its curriculum design. This flexibility makes it possible for the college to continuously upgrade and improve the curriculum.  This makes the PGDM far more industry oriented than the MMS.

The Myths
Is it valid for further education?  One of the major myths is regarding further education in India and abroad. In India, all the awards of PGDM from AICTE recognised institutes are equivalent to a masters degree. A student can pursue her doctorate or any other course with the PGDM conferred by a recognised institute.

The PGDM is valid for pursuing your education in any international university or college. In some cases the foreign University may not be aware of the PGDM concept. The aspirant in such cases will merely have to get an equivalence certificate from the Association of Indian Universities. With this certificate from AIU, the aspirant can get admission to the international University of her choice.

For all other issues like getting bank loans or applying for government jobs, both the awards are equal. A PGDM graduate is eligible for all benefits that are applicable to the Masters degree holder. AICTE considers both these awards as post graduate programs in Management.
There is also a concern among MBA aspirants regarding the ‘validity’ of the award, with so many fake institutes around. A simple solution would be to have a look at AICTE’s website and check for the name of the institute. In case the institute and the degree are not mentioned on the site, aspirants should avoid getting admission in such institutes.

How to select my college?
The first and the most important aspect is to select an institute with good faculty. In most cases, these two years are the last years of formal education that you will undertake. Bad or mediocre faculty may not be able to do justice to the curriculum. The best designed course would fail with poor faculty. An MBA aspirant should visit the website of the concerned institute and check for the faculty. Things to look into would be the education of the faculty, their previous employment and work history, current consulting and training clients, papers written, etc.

Only after confirming the faculty strength should the aspirant look for the course outline. The University based curriculums are sometimes ancient and not updated. In such cases the PGDM courses designed by a good set of people may make a significant difference to the education. Given that Mumbai University has around 10 subjects per term, a student ends up spending most of her time in classrooms learning from a teacher. There is very little scope for peer learning or additional activities. A well designed PGDM can ensure better learning by introducing multiple ways of assimilating knowledge.

Of course the aspirants should also look at the activities in the concerned institute. Generally, an institute with good set of faculty members will always ensure a high activity level. Aspirants should surely also check for the Conclaves and Conferences organised by the institute and the industry participants. Like for other activities, good faculty members will automatically generate good industry interaction.

The most important decision
Quite often we spend more time researching on the features of the mobile phone we buy than on the college we wish to seek admission. Selecting a course and an institute may be the most important decision in the life of an MBA aspirant. They must not be swayed by opinions and myths. A few hours spent researching the colleges is a good investment. If possible, visit the institutes and have a discussion with the faculty members and students. Have a walk around the campus and feel the energy. And keep in mind, PGDM programs from AICTE recognised institutes are equivalent to the MMS programs. Rather than get influenced by wrong ideas, MBA aspirants must take advantage of the programs that give their careers a sharp edge.

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