The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are facing transition issues as they make the shift from granting diplomas to awarding degrees. The premier business schools are in a spot over whether the batch of students graduating this year — they enrolled much before the IIM Act came into effect last month — should get a postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) or an MBA degree.
A section of students at IIM-Lucknow have demanded that they be given diplomas at their convocation ceremony this year, prompting the institute director to approach the government for a clarification. At the heart of this dilemma is an established market perception that values a PGDM more than an MBA degree. Over the years, a PGDM has become acceptable, and even a brand, because of the IIMs.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, IIM-Lucknow head Ajit Prasad confirmed that he has written to the HRD Ministry and is awaiting its reply on whether the institute can grant diplomas to the students. Asked why students want a PGDM over a degree, he said, “They were admitted for a PGDM. They have been examined for a PGDM. So (they want that) we should give a PGDM.” He, however, did not elaborate on how many in the outgoing batch are in favour of receiving PGDM.
While IIM-Lucknow has approached the government, others, such as IIM-Bangalore and IIM-Calcutta, are set to take a decision at the next meeting of their Board of Governors (BoG). IIM-Bangalore director G Raghuram said the institute is looking at all possible solutions, including giving students the option of receiving either a diploma or degree. The final decision, he said, will be taken by the BoG.
“The Act permits us to start awarding degrees from this year itself. However, students would be given the choice of receiving the PGDM or the degree since when they joined the programme, they joined for a PGDM. We are in the process of taking a decision on this. We have consulted our faculty and we are also speaking to other IIMs to formulate an opinion. I have to take this matter to the Board,” Raghuram told The Sunday Express.
He, however, clarified that the decision will be limited to the two batches of students who enrolled before the Act came into effect, and that all students seeking admission from this year will only be awarded a degree.
The BoG of IIM-Calcutta is also set to meet soon to decide on this issue, among other things, said the institute director, Saibal Chattopadhyay. “It’s a legal matter. We have to see whether, legally, we can award degrees for a programme that was advertised as a PGDM course,” he said.
The IIM Act was passed by Parliament on December 20, 2017. The law makes each of the 20 IIMs an ‘Institution of National Importance’, like the IITs, NITs and AIIMS. In other words, it empowers them to grant degrees to students.
Earlier, all IIMs were separate bodies registered under the Societies Act. Since societies are not authorised to award degrees, students admitted to their Master’s programme are given a PGDM. Similarly, those pursuing doctoral studies are awarded the title of a ‘Fellow’ at the end of their research.
Although the PG diploma and ‘Fellow’ title are recognised by the Association of Indian Universities and the HRD Ministry as being equivalent to an MBA and a Ph.D degree respectively, the equivalence is not universally accepted, especially for the Fellow programme, which prompted the government to conceive the Act.