Planning to pursue MBA? Think again…
The bags are not completely unpacked and I am yet to recover from jetlag. Venkat, my better-half, shows a couple of messages on WhatsApp that I am yet to check. Then, as if on cue, he shows me a news article that says that admissions to MBA this year are expected to plunge to an all-time low. Vasu, my cousin’s son calls me from Chennai to inform me (albeit a bit sullenly) about how he has been given the pink slip by a famous business school in Chennai. Reason? Poor student enrolments are causing nightmares to educational institutions and faculty members alike. Luckily for Vasu, he has been moonlighting as a soft-skills trainer and so he need not worry about securing a full time job immediately. Vasu had joined a business school in his early 40s after leading a peripatetic life as a sales manager in HP. It was not difficult for Vasu to segue from a busy career in sales to a somewhat dull career in education.
 
Do not get me wrong, dear reader. Teaching has become extremely mundane. Every institution, in the process of collecting (not selecting) students, has internalized a philosophy of treating students as customers. Pleasing students is the main agenda. Business schools do not flinch to appoint teachers to teach management subjects at a paltry sum of Rs15,000 – Rs20,000. If you pay peanuts, you will only get monkeys – so goes an old adage. But in an era where job security is fast becoming a mirage and job losses are becoming the order of the day, unemployed people are accepting any job offer that comes their way. It does not make sense to sit at home, twiddle your thumbs and wait for that “ideal” job which may never materialise.
 
Business school owners will think thrice about improving the basic infrastructure in their institutions; however, they are prompt to collect feedback from students. This is actually a decoy or a red herring to divert the attention of students from pressing issues. In one of the middle rung business schools in Bangalore (that launched a private university amidst much fanfare by encroaching on half of the farmland by buying them at dirt cheap prices) the placements are pathetic; 80% of their students have not been placed despite the fact that they have completed Semester-IV (the final semester) and of the 20% who have been placed, the jobs are in real estate firms.
 
The promoters are intelligent enough to collect feedback about teachers but never once do they talk to their students about the infrastructure/ library facilities / placement opportunities. Some of them hire retired and out-of-work HR professionals who call themselves self-styled educational consultants. These consultants have a rather enviable job of going around the institution and randomly noting down feedback from students – mostly about their teachers. Then they document every silly observation that the students make and prepare an excel file. After submitting such a fatuous report, they also submit a bill for Rs50,000. 
 
In one business school in Mumbai, the educational consultant (who is in his 80s and knows the promoter for almost three decades) visits the campus annually and even though he is short of hearing, he listens to the students and adds his own masala to the students’ carping so that only the negative aspects of the teaching faculty are documented. The promoter uses this to pare down the annual increments to the teaching staff.
 
I hear from my colleagues in other cities that the situation has turned from bad to worse. One director in a business school in Pune, apparently, addresses MBA students as “children”. No prizes for guessing that she was the principal of a school owned by the promoter for almost 15 years and then her closeness to the promoter’s wife got her the job as the director of the business school. Saccharine oozes when she addresses the students as “my dear children” and her valedictory addresses are speeches copied from “The Speaking Tree”. Ludicrous as these may appear, it won’t be a surprise if this lady is promoted as a Chancellor in the near future.
 
Private universities are mushrooming in cities like Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. Availability of vast tracts of land, easier hassle-free procedures in securing accreditation and a truckload of marketing promotions are ensuring that gullible students fall into the trap. Otherwise, how do you explain engineering students opting for “Aeronautical Engineering” and “Petroleum Engineering” when the college does not have a decent lab facility?
 
Critics have been trenchant about Prakash Javadekar’s ill-defined and ill-timed regulatory reforms that are in no way in sync with the realities on the ground. No college pays 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th commission and this man talks about 8th pay commission. The situation is pretty much morbid. None can deny it. All the so-called reforms in higher education are not only skewed but there has been lots of demurring about the arbitrariness with which such announcements are made.
 
One of my bright students has now entered teaching after completing his PhD from IIT-Chennai. We had a chat after a long time on Skype. He is based in Bangalore and told me the glum scenario there.
 
Apparently, Bangalore University is controlled by academicians with political clout. Two years back there was a scandal in which students were asked to pay Rs 8000 for a software programme that was poorly conceived and implemented. All students were declared passed to appease them. Now the University has got trifurcated but chaos still prevails. Uncouth academicians rule the roost.
 
At the post graduate level, the question papers are set with straightforward questions like the question papers at the degree level. There is no accountability. There is no one to question these stalwarts. Some of the question papers are full of glaring spelling errors. Apparently the process of correcting these papers is worse. Faculty members appointed to correct answer papers (they are literally forced to comply by their respective educational institutions) consider this akin to cleaning the Augean stables. Students who join such a course scoff at the question papers and fill the answer papers with rubbish – confident that no one is going to read the answers anyway. 
 
What exacerbates these issues is the attitude of students who gain entry in a business school either by paying astronomical amounts or securing admission under the “reserved” category. Most of the students who are either from rural areas of Karnataka, Kerala and North-East are lured by the job market in Bangalore. Earlier the demand outstripped the supply. But now the situation is fast changing. MBAs are only getting call centre jobs or bank jobs where they are assigned to do data entry. Even accounting firms need MBAs to file tax returns for their customers – a job that does not need an MBA degree in the first place.
 
I would like to make it clear that the situation is not unique to only the garden city. It is equally depressing elsewhere. Eligibility norms are so diluted that a student who gets 50% marks is assured of admission in a business school. These students behave like customers and their focus is on anything but learning. So when they pass out of business school, they do not even have the bookish knowledge. To compound matters, they are also extra-sensitive, unwilling to listen to any sort of advice. So, when they go for interviews, they are in for a rude shock. Some of the MBA post graduates do not have the competence to even write a simple email. This results in poor employability of these students and placements drop. When placements drop, it leads to a negative word-of-mouth publicity and this adversely impacts fresh admissions. When admission numbers whittle down, faculty members are shown the door. 
 
Companies are now preferring B Com (Honours) students for finance/ accounting jobs. Earlier MBA (Finance) students were getting jobs as equity research analysts but even that opportunity is lost now thanks to the poor ability of the students who lack the knowledge of even basic accounting principles. Ask them what do they mean by “leveraging” or “Net worth” and most of them will draw a blank. It is also a sorry state of affairs that many students are forced by their parents to pursue an MBA course. Unless drastic changes are made in the higher education system, the MBA course will find its popularity dwindling gradually. Who wants to pay a king’s ransom as fees and end up sitting at home?
 
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COMMENTS

Karan Suvarna

4 months ago

That's really good advice
You have opened my eyes
I wanted to persue MBA from Mumbai
But now I shall step back

Ramesh Jaradhara

4 months ago

A really good news wrap in bitter coating. Name is nothing but a nomenclature, an ornament. Capable students are still found at large. Value is shine everywhere.

Tk

4 months ago

What is your point of writing this point?
Delete my comment if you will but I dont find anything of value except the fact that one can use thesaurus to make anything look good.

Coming to the post, MBAs are not getting call center jobs. Even if they are, it is not the problem of the MBA. Degree is always valuable. What is the meaning of a degree? Good laboratory? Good professor? Or students who are hard working enough to excel in life? Most of the post is focused on placements. Are we doing mba just for the sake of placements. Greatest stalwarts of India like Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Harsha Bhogle, Amish Tripathi etc. are working in non conventional profiles. A degree doesn't guarantee a job. Student’s capacity does. Just for the sake, even corporate companies encourage students who know stuff. A B. Com grad is not superior to MBA grad from companies' perspective. A company will rarelg hire a person based on degree. Compare apples with apples. A failure in MBA should not be compared with an excellent student in B. Com.
Students are getting placed in real estate profiles and call centers because they did not work hard enough. Not because of doing an MBA. And how can one assume that a person doing Investment Banking role is happy in his life. Maybe the real estate guy is much happy. If you think the fee of an average MBA college is very high, take loan and clear off when you can. Indian govt has supported enough for students. MBA is not to get good placements. MBA makes people think like managers, business people. MBA teaches people to network more. A person who has good network and good academic knowledge will be getting a better job outside placements. A person who depends on campus placements will be doomed to fail in life. Sorry if hurt any sentiments.

A post on a public platform should be valid, credible, statistically proven as people who are unaware of reality will choose their decision on the post. An opinion is an opinion. But at least put a disclaimer that it's an opinion and the fact that it doesn't apply to all. This comment is not applicable to MBA, but every degree. Degree is just a piece of paper. A programme like MBA or engineering is a platform. You will get a degree no matter what, but your life will change only if you utilize the platform

REPLY

aun ahmed

In Reply to Tk 4 months ago

Dear Sir,

Consider my theory : A degree is worthy only to the extent that it is difficult to get into or get out of one. One difficult degree to get into is MBBS from AIIMS,or a Bachelor's degree from St. Stephen's College, or a BTech from IIT Kanpur, etc. A degree difficult to get out from is , for example, MCA from IGNOU or Chartered Accountancy from ICAI. Now,degrees not falling in either of these categories are degrees which are easy to get in and also easy to get out (with a degree). Examples are MBA from Punjab Technical University, or PGDM from Tom Dick Harry Institute of International Business and Management Technology, or a BTech from a college affiliated to MDU or UPTU or CCS University.
When such easy degrees are available, the supply will increase and to keep demand matching price (salaries) will fall and jobs will be mundane.

Anand Vaidya

4 months ago

This article would have been more valuable if the author had named the colleges and provided specific cases, instead of generalized , almost ad-hominem accusations. I agree that education in India is at its worst (eg: JNU Bharat Tukde Honge fatcat gang being fed with our tax money) and needs fixing urgently.

sunil jivan date

4 months ago

You have hit the nail on the head.
I have the same opinion about engineering. Most jr college students attend coaching classes and are taught to crack the exam. With this knowledge and the arrogance of having bought the admission in engg college, I am totally bleak about the lot that will enter the services field which contributes ~ 50% to the GDP.

The education system is in a rot. What is expected from a medical, supposedly, graduate, who pays ₹ 60l upwards as fees. Immediate return on investment i.e fees.

Roshan Shah

4 months ago

I really don't know if you are an ex Christite or not but so much feels oh my god. Even christ bought a building the size of four football fields and it's now raising no one else but a bunch of South Indians. Pretty idiotic the system and they seems everyone to Pune city on Tuesdays, having made the college 60 kmts away from Pune in a town.

Llatika Gopal

4 months ago

Awesome penmanship... I couldn't agree more with quality vs quantity situation. I'm in a similar situation with one of the biggest, oldest, most famous University in Mumbai who have been doing nothing but extorting money. Worst, mine is a advanced certification course (ROFL) and it's costing me more than a PG course. Horrible faculties, study material has content which is copied from blogs, unethical and illegal practice information is being shared with suggestion on how to use them, we're shown hindi videos during session, and feedback OMG don't wanna go there. Worst is mistakes spelling mistake in exam questions... God save this country and hope things change one day

Employees find tax-saving reimbursement process time-consuming, says Zeta-Nielsen survey
Do employees take advantage of all tax-saving benefits available to them? Research by Zeta-Nielsen on 1,233 employees from manufacturing and service sector showed that one in four employees did not understand tax-saving possibilities through benefits that form part of their salary breakup. The survey was conducted in top tier cities - Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. 
 
The salaried class can avail of several expense-based exemptions to reduce their tax burden. The entire list of exemptions is available in this link - https://goo.gl/PqVWhQ
 
Out of the various tax-saving benefits on medical, communication, fuel, leave-travel allowance, meal vouchers and gift, employees preferred using medical and communication the most. The least popular were tax-saving benefits on meal and gift vouchers; reasons being limited acceptance of the vouchers, storage difficulties and limited validity.
 
 
But is lack of awareness the only reason for employees to not opt for tax-saving benefits? Not so. The survey found that processing-time of claims was the biggest reason why employees opt out of reimbursements. 71% of the companies surveyed took 8 days or more to process each claim. Even for completing the claim process, the employee had to get 2 or more approvals which lengthened the claim process. Employees stated tracking the status of claims, completing the one or more approvals for claim processing and storing bills as key challenges faced while half of the employees stated the process as ‘too complex’. 
 
Ramki Gaddipati, chief technology officer and co-founder of Zeta says, “Due to the complex time-consuming paperwork, many employees prefer to opt out of the benefit because they are not able to derive a value for the benefit.”
 
What did the Employer have to say?
 
Employers’ didn’t find the long processing time for claims a major concern. Yet, 35% of the companies surveyed had discontinued one or more reimbursements. Why? High running costs, high employee opt-out and managing logistics of bills were top 3 reasons for discontinuing the reimbursements. Two out of three companies felt that the time and cost spent on administering tax benefits exceeded actual benefits to employees. Also, invalid or illegible bills submitted by employees were another major issue companies faced. Difficulties in handling of intensive paperwork related to the reimbursement process delays the claim-processing time. Employees rather choose to forgo saving tax than go through the claim process. 
 
 
When business processes are going digital, including the filing of tax-returns, why is it that companies are still using dated paper-based processes to reimburse tax-saving benefits? 94% of the companies surveyed used a paper-based process compared to only 6% that had turned reimbursement management completely digital. 
 
“Although we have several employee benefits in place, the lack of digitisation is an area of concern given the fact that we have a young & tech-savvy workforce in the country. Most importantly, a digital transition will ensure faster processes, significant cost savings for companies and transparent functioning,” Ramki added.
 

 

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COMMENTS

upadhyay preeti

4 months ago

You have very correctly brought up the issue which covers the sorry state of affair in our education system. Nothing is being done to improve the situation and every successive government is worsening it by their whimsical decisions. The fictitious figure of burgeoning professional work force is going to lead our country nowhere. Its far better to have simple graduates having decent knowledge, willing to do hard work than employees who have big degrees, no knowledge, great expectations, attitude problems leading to dis satisfaction in the society.

Ramesh Poapt

6 months ago

tax shaving...IT deptt should give due publicity of various
tax exemptions ..

The Reality behind an Actuarial ‘Science’ Course…
Giri (my better half) always chides me for attempting to show things in poor light. But I cannot help it, can I? Even as I plan my annual trip to the US in February, I thought I must share certain happenings that will definitely be in the interest of the larger public. I know that Moneylife stands in the forefront when it comes to issues such as these, as part of its exemplary efforts in setting a new journalistic trend.
 
My nephew, who is based in Mumbai, was keen on his son pursuing a course in actuarial science. He sought my help, since he, somehow, believed that a seasoned academician like me will be of great help to him. I had already forewarned him about my activist instincts. Despite being a senior citizen, I have still managed to maintain my contacts in academia. It always helps. Thanks to social media networks, I have managed to stay connected.
 
As I began talking to one person after another, the real truth behind an actuarial science course started coming to light. It was, indeed, a shocker for me! Anyway, readers must have heard/ read about how an actuary is a most sought after person in the insurance industry and how actuaries draw huge sums of money as salaries and bonuses. Actuaries are responsible for using statistical methods to compute the amount of insurance premium. This is the main function of an actuary, though they have other roles like risk modelling, etc.
 
When I contacted Satish Nair (not his real name) through one of my acquaintances, he dropped a bombshell. Since pursuing an actuarial science course from India was next to impossible (I will come to it later), his daughter pursued a two-year actuarial science course from UK wiping out half of Satish’s  retirement funds. When she returned to India, hoping to land a plum job, there were no takers. After waiting for close to six months and twiddling her thumbs at home, Satish’s daughter managed to get a job in an insurance call centre (of all places) in Pune. Satish was fuming so much that if a kettle of cold water had been kept before of him, it would have heated up in no time.
 

So where is the problem? Why is doing an actuarial science course in India not such an exciting proposition? There are very few educational institutions that impart an actuarial science course in India. Of these, 50% offer courses that are not recognised by the industry. Gullible students get attracted to all the marketing nonsense being dished out by these institutions and end up wasting money, time and effort. Some of them end up ruining their career too.
 
Actually, there is a coterie that exists in an unofficial form. In one of the well-known institutes in India’s business capital that offers an actuarial science course, an outstanding student will take at least seven years to get a degree in actuarial science after his graduation—provided, he doesn’t lose interest halfway through the course. One can imagine the plight of other not-so-bright students who may (if at all they manage to complete) get their degree in actuarial science in 9-10 years.
 
The evaluation pattern of the actuarial science course is contrived. Rather than having a reasonably efficient system that passes meritorious students, the system is so flawed that the barely 3% of students pass. This is done deliberately to create an artificial hype around the actuarial science course. So, the benchmark passing percentage keeps on changing year on year. Let me give an example.
 
Deepak Kiran (not his real name) appeared for actuarial science examination in 2014. He did not clear the exam because he got only 65% and there were a couple of others who had managed to get 70%. So, the benchmark passing percentage was fixed at 70%. The next year, Kiran appeared for the exam and got 74%. He was still declared failed because some of the students had managed to score 80% and so the benchmark was changed. Some experts call it the ‘percentile’ system of evaluation. There are no prizes for guessing that Kiran had the sense to abandon something that he considered absolutely absurd. He wrote his GMAT and, today, he is pursuing MBA (masters in business administration) at a university in England.
 
So, I hope that readers now understand how the scoring system for actuarial science course is egregious. Insiders insist that this is the ploy of the members who belong to a so-called association that wishes to deliberately create a shortage of actuaries in India so that salaries of actuaries can be further hiked. But neither the regulatory body (IRDAI—Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) nor the government seems to have any say in the matter. 
 
I would hate to call it a scam but it is nothing short of that. Examinations are held to select students. In case of competitive examinations, to attract meritorious students, the entrance examination standards are set at a high level. This is understandable as the number of seats is limited; so, entries need to be curtailed to give preference to top-quality students who genuinely deserve the seat.  This is the case with all the top-notch business-schools in India. However, once a student gets a seat, the examination process is the usual one—whatever you may name it. Nowadays, the grade point average (GPA) score is more popular. However, nothing can beat the so-called percentile system adopted by institutions offering the actuarial science course.
 
When I conveyed this to my nephew, he was glad that he had contacted me. As always, I had provided the right information to him, thanks to all my social networks. But I would like to make a sincere request to parents (I would rather call it as an appeal)—please do proper homework and help your child enrol in a good course that has job prospects as well as a proper examination procedure. It is essential that you check your child’s eligibility and mental make-up for a course that makes rigorous demands on their time.
 
I know of many parents who insist that their children pursue a course in chartered accountancy (CA) without knowing the effort involved in it. Some students can suffer a burnout with the constant running around. Coaching classes have mushroomed at all metros claiming that they impart world class coaching for CA. But the pass percentage is barely 6%-8%. These classes have hyped the course so much that there are students who abandoned their graduation for pursuing CA and, in the end, did not manage to achieve either. Parents need to think carefully—coaching classes will put immense pressure and dangle the carrot saying that the commerce student can finish CA along with their degree course. After completing it, the student has to anyway join the mad rush in the corporate world. Most of those who pursue a degree by correspondence end up lacking social skills that are so important in the corporate world. Thus, whether it is a chartered accountancy course or an actuarial science course, be forewarned about the risk elements. At the end of the day, it is a question of your child’s career. 
 
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