Business Schools In India

B-schools in India recruit a disproportionate number of engineering grads. A lot of this has to do with the highly competitive entrance exams that lay emphasis on numerical skills. The B-schools find this an objective way to guarantee selection. At least some Professors that I spoke with at IIMs pleaded helplessness in reforming the intake criteria given the need to ensure transparency and also the pressure to respond to RTI activists.

This requires business schools to place an unholy weightage on the test scores when almost anyone will agree that any one test can never be a perfect predictor of success in any sphere.

The skewed admission criteria and the domination of engineering grads at B-schools makes for less diverse classrooms and the absence of input from graduates trained in disciplines like economics, commerce, pure sciences or even liberal arts. This situation is also possibly born out of the thinking that smarts in math will translate to business smarts. This misses the point that business is about satisfying customer needs and needs an understanding of social sciences.

Graduates that have spent 4 years in engineering college and the usual 2-3 year preparatory period at school before, have zero exposure to liberal arts and social sciences. I now realise how ill prepared I was myself three decades ago in transitioning from engineering to B-school. It has taken me many years of study and education to overcome my deficit in these areas. The recent trend to insist on or weight work experience is no doubt positive, but it still does little to address the bias in recruiting engineers.

If top-ranked universities abroad are able to admit students from diverse social and educational backgrounds, I am sure there is something for us to learn from those processes. The quality of liberal arts education in the US universities is an important factor in their high global rankings. B-schools in India are however currently doing themselves a disservice by missing out on the richness in diversity of students that could participate in their programs. See this-

One solution for B-schools could be to limit use of the entrance test scores as a ‘pass’ criterion. Then apply additional filters of diversity quotient combined with an aptitude test that selects candidates that would most benefit from the education. Again, given the inherent variability of testing, it will be useful if we recognise the limitations of these tests and allow for some subjective criteria