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As Delhi High Court Tightens The Rope Around IIPM, Will Fake Universities Take A Hit?

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By Mayank Jain:

In a parallel world from ours, the stage is set. The dictionaries are a little torn up but the thesaurus is holding its own against the flustered fumbling hands of the Honorary Dean and his team who have been vigorously looking for the synonym they can use next, now that the High Court has forbidden them from calling themselves a ‘management institute’. Such is the case of IIPM which has been asked to not use the words like management school, business school or B-school to describe itself.

arindam_chaudhuri1Words, like statistics, can mean whatever we want them to mean and the recent judgment will only make our faith stronger in the Verbal Ability of the IIPM’s ‘think-tank’ which will soon ‘innovate’ a new marketing campaign. The only way to lure people into ‘management education’ which is not even backed by a real degree is through the mirage of global exposure. They accomplish this through fake associations with some of the best universities in the world.

The website brandishes logos of New York University, Berkeley, and Stanford among others as the partners of this famous (rather infamous) institute. But, a little digging revealed that official circulars from these universities have nullified all these false claims of ‘associations’. In fact, Stanford University even issued a notice clarifying the fact that they don’t have any such association with IIPM. The only real collaboration is with a clone university in Belgium, however, thinking of that as a real institution will be too optimistic.

What the whole fiasco reveals about the education system in the country though, is the fact that students end up being gullible because of the neglect of those publications and surveys which end up listing such institutes. Surveys should not rank universities on what they claim on the web since such claims can be easily bought or sold. The rankings, the surveys and everything about institutes like these turn out to be a sham at some point.

In a day and age where our IITs and IIMs aren’t able to make it among the world’s top 300, forget top 30 if you even harboured that dream, we really don’t need fake management institutions to rank themselves high up on the surveys that they sponsor themselves.

There is hardly a rational reason to enrol for management education which isn’t about management and receive a certificate which is not really a recognized degree. Even the fake placements they promise will not come to one’s rescue at the point because UGC has been warning against such frauds for a long enough time. Ergo, no education is better than a really expensive illusion of education achieved over a period of 2-3 crucial years of one’s life, right?

After this institute leaves the space of fake institutes serving degrees to those who fall into the trap and end up paying lakhs, the race will open up again. This time the field will be level and empty for those con men who will rise once again. They will do it all, invent jargons, institutions and their own rankings to keep the spread of real education in check. They will have a tough time diluting the monopoly of IIMs and IITs but with the grit as that of the institute in question and taking a leaf or two from their marketing strategies, they might just make a fool of us, once again.

Till the time it happens, thesauruses will suffer, money will continue to flow for publishers and newspapers who carry their ads and universities like Stanford and Harvard will see a drop in their quality of education and classes won’t happen. Professors will spend extra hours defying the claims of fake universities in India announcing associations with the best in the world.

Maybe it is indeed too early to dare to think beyond IIMs.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Good Job !!

  2. Nikhil

    There is an unexamined assumption, and with that, a flawed perception here. Bad as IIPM may be, I think the rationale being used is barking up the wrong tree. How can we assume that any university that has not been officially certified by a centralized standardization agency (which itself is not clear of flaws).. is Fake? Whatever happened to the third bastion of the Autonomous institution : independent in choosing what discourse it gives to those coming to it?
    Who gave any UGC or its compliant colleges the right to claim that they alone can define what it means to be an MBA in India, or any academic achievement for that matter? Especially glaring on the author’s part here is the missing out of that inconvenient little detail that the best ranked institutions in the world that were referred to in the article, do not obey any centralized agency’s diktats; they are autonomous, and they are successful precisely because they are autonomous, precisely because they can design their curriculum and everything related on their own. All (or most! Enlighten me if I’m wrong) of the best colleges in the world don’t depend on any “UGC” for their legitimacy. Their programmes and their alumni create their legitimacy. Word of mouth, reputation emerging from the success of alumni and proof in the pudding hold higher value on the international higher education scene than any centralized government agency’s stamp of approval.

    In light of such a global reality, our attack on IIPM without even bothering to examine and compare their actual programmes with those of the hundreds of pathetic colleges that the UGC has given its stamp of approval to, smacks of hypocrisy.
    Forget about IIPM themselves : I have no clue about their actual programmes and if they’re just empty pretenders and really lying through their noses to rip off students, then so be their fate.

    But learning is universal. The UGC does not hold monopoly over how learning, especially higher education, happens. How will we now treat the many emerging educational experiments that are trying to give a fundamentally different kind of higher education to the youth entering their gates? If an autonomous institution imparting valuable education to the youth coming to it, is not even trying to win any UGC’s stamp of approval, will we then ruthlessly attack them also as being FAKE? Will be label them also as FALTU (if you haven’t seen the movie then please do)? Will we blame them for failing to “win” a recognition from that they have never even bothered trying to win? I am especially alarmed by the apparent assertion of this article that any institution to emerge in the future which is not ratified by UGC, is automatically going to be Fake.

    This nation’s history reminds us of a rich moment of this sort. Around 1920, following a call from Gandhi, several intellectuals and students all over the country walked out of the British-certified institutions and started autonomous independent colleges, like the famous Gujrat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad. They started teaching without bothering to beg for anybody’s stamp of approval. And they taught better, fundamentally better, than the mainstream colleges of that time. They nurtured and shaped many of the minds who would go on to co-create an Independent India. Today they may be acknowledged by our governments, but back then they were precisely the “Fake” institutions we’re being warned against. What if they too had been chastised with the ferocity being leveled at “unapproved” institutions today?

    Look at the higher education scenario in India today. Most of our graduates come out not only learning nothing of value to prospective employers; their ordeal renders them incapable of even the most basic entrepreneurship. And citizenry? Forget it! If you’re worried that an IIPM operating without UGC approval will fleece students, then look around you : there are thousands of colleges happily fleecing the youth of this country with full UGC approval! The UGC and bodies like it have royally screwed up higher education in India. To continue valuing its holy stamp of approval over and above facts on the ground, is only going to take Indian education sector ever lower down the tube. Perhaps it’s really time to think beyond the UGC, to take a clean, honest look at what really makes the most successful colleges in the world, and to listen again to Gandhi’s call for educating what needs to be educated without waiting for any problematic certifying agency’s stamp of approval.

    1. Vibhor

      What a fantastic and brilliant riposte to the article! Astounding metaphors and examples to put your point across. I love the UGC analysis too. Thanks for being brave enough to call a spade a spade. Disclosure: I am an IIPM student at Delhi, joined the institute “after” the High Court Order, am kind of okay with the teaching, and not intending to put any point across out here. But just couldn’t resist commenting here.

  3. sonu

    as i saw,indian news comprising 60% of the total on this site. i m feeling popular :).

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