With nearly 142 million students expected to enrol for higher education by 2030, there is a pressing need not just for new institutes but also for increased seats and infrastructure at the existing ones. However, business education has much to overcome before it is able to meet with rising student and employer demand.

*Q. What are some of the major challenges that business schools have to overcome today?
A. When I was studying at IIM-A we had only 400 students and 85 faculty members. Today, years later, we have an intake of 1,000 students but only 91 teachers. This is just one example of how the demand and pressure on business schools has increased, yet at the same time the basic infrastructure to cope with this rising demand is not present. The first thing we need to work on is establishing more competitive salaries to attract top teaching talent. We should look at hiring faculty members not just from India but from around the world. Emphasis also needs to be placed on learning outcomes and capabilities of teachers and not just their credentials and experience. Every good academic institution needs a certain minimum scale and investment in human capital.
Q. Do we need more management institutes?
A. The proposal to set up multiple IIMs across the country is a good idea. India has a large young population. It is great to have several excellent management institutions for our growing, young and talented population. However, these institutes need to be nurtured with care. There are many institutions today who merely leverage off the brand of the MBA degree. There is a real risk then of a race to the bottom in terms of quality. Commoditisation of the MBA degree is one major worry facing management education in the Indian context. To avoid this it is critical to have a system of accreditation and independent quality measurement of MBA institutes.
Q. What then defines a quality B-school?
A. A good educational institute needs to invest considerable time and energy in building the software of the institute, its reputation, and most importantly, a culture of good quality learning. A good institute isn't only about large buildings and physical infrastructure. It is more about the energy within the walls of the institute which comes from excellent well-trained faculty members who are well versed in their field of specialisation, a vibrant student population and an atmosphere of inquiry and debate. We should establish new institutions in India for sure, but we should guard against having a multiplicity of sub-scale institutions. We must also nurture our existing, relatively high performing IIMs through sustained investments and academic inputs.