Despite efforts to arrive at a consensus, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) seem to be going separate ways on whether students graduating this year should get a diploma or an MBA degree.
IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow and IIM Ranchi held their convocation ceremony last week. While IIM Lucknow and IIM Ranchi gave postgraduate diplomas in management or PGDM to its students, IIM Bangalore became the first IIM to give an MBA degree for the postgraduate programme in management.
With IIM Bangalore taking the plunge, IIM Udaipur, too, has decided to award degrees on March 23. Institute head Janat Shah confirmed this to The Indian Express on Sunday.
The directors of all the 20 business schools had held a meeting in the national capital on February 28 to reach a consensus on the issue. As first reported by this newspaper on February 11, IIM Lucknow had even approached the HRD Ministry formally for a clarification on the matter after a section of its students demanded that they be given PGDM at the convocation ceremony this year. At the heart of this dilemma is an established market perception that values a PGDM more than an MBA degree. Moreover, the batch graduating this year was admitted for a diploma programme in 2016, not degree.
At the directors’ meeting last month, sources said, 17 IIMs were in favour of maintaining status quo for the current year and awarding degrees from 2019. But IIM Udaipur, IIM Bangalore and IIM Indore were keen on exercising the power to grant degrees from this year itself.
“We were hoping that all of us would agree on one decision to protect brand IIM. Since we have a common admission process, it would have been good if all the institutes awarded the same academic qualification for the same programme,” said an IIM director.
“2018 is a transition year and I don’t think this (some institutes awarding degrees and others diploma) will impact the IIM brand. We all are heading towards the same destination,” said IIM Bangalore director G Raghuram.
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 Masters 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 PhD degree, respectively, the equivalence is not universally accepted, especially for the Fellow programme, which prompted the government to conceive the Act.