While leading journalism schools worldwide teach journalists the sacred value of reporting a story with an immaculately neutral point of view, many 'investigative' journalists, given frequently to sensationalist reporting, unfortunately have ended up being bards to the slant that everything positive about the protagonist must have been bought and everything negative must be true!
One such entity to clearly have had its unfair share of such roughneck reportage from an unseemly coterie is the well known and reputed business school, IIPM, an institution with has grown exceedingly in the past years based on the world class academic content of its programmes, marked by its quite courageous proposition of 'Daring to think beyond the IIMs'. From placements to Global Exposure IIPM has been clearly redefining education in India, and yet, against the obvious current, has some indecorous articles being churned out by a narrow section within the media world. If analysed over the past few instances, it's quite clear that regular negative reporting against IIPM -often clearly slanderous and opinionated- is being carried out by the publisher of a leading news weekly (a competitor of IIPM groups news weekly The Sunday Indian), through his newly launched Careers magazine, and seemingly hand in hand by a self published career website, Mba-channel.com, where the basic construct of almost all the reports is focused on a few specific repetitive issues.
Having met many extremely smart IIPM students and respected faculties in the past, and having interacted with some of India's top corporations which come to IIPM for campus placements, we realised that the paradox facing us was quite surprising - as against the general perception about IIPM, these evidently un-benevolent articles claim there are critical chinks in the knight's armour. These articles also claim haphazardly that IIPM, because of its advertising might, manages to stifle negative news reports. It's another matter that today, in India, not even the Ambanis - or the Prime Minister for that matter - have ever managed to 'stifle' negative news reports in the long run. Given all that, we decided to get into the matter ourselves and investigate the claims of the articles targeting IIPM, and what is the basis of the infirm reporting...
In our exclusive investigation, we also went within the fine print of various ironclad contracts and agreements that IIPM has with its worldwide partner institutions. We take up each one of these issues one by one in our investigations into the truth:
IIPM Accreditation/MBA/BBA degrees
A point of contention that comes up while discussing IIPM is IIPM's accreditation. IIPM claims boldly everywhere that it has never applied to AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) or UGC (University Grants Commission) - one would say thoughtfully - to get its programmes accredited. It is worth noting that many leading business schools and institutions in India consider the presence of AICTE and UGC a big hindrance in delivering quality education, much due to the rampant corruption that has existed within both these institutions (the Chairman of AICTE, RA Yadav, was taken out of his post last year due to corruption evidence; CBI raided AICTE officials in 2009 because of illegal and corrupt practices), and the honourable Union Minister for Human Resource and Development, Mr. Kapil Sibal, has moved forward with the scrapping of both AICTE and UGC.
In fact IIPM's various programmes are offered in the areas of national economic planning and entrepreneurship, and therefore IIPM in any case clearly falls out of the purview of AICTE by the very Act under which it was set up (the latest copy of the Act has been obtained by this newspaper); and not being an University IIPM surely doesn't come under UGC. However, thanks to various over envious reports, UGC, even without discussing the issue appropriately with IIPM in all fairness and justice, over-eagerly listed IIPM as a 'fake university' on its website. Once they were taken to courts by IIPM, (an original copy of the court order has been obtained by this newspaper) UGC immediately removed IIPM's name from the fake university list accepting IIPM was not a university, had never claimed to be one and was by itself not giving degrees. As per the court settlement in the UGC case, IIPM was further not required to write in its advertisements that its courses fall out of the purview of AICTE and UGC.
Although that issue was settled, the hatchet job against IIPM continued. A report (from the same magazine) sensationally claimed recently in the headline that the "degrees" offered by IIPM are "illegal". The wrong and delinquent usage of words becomes clear when one goes through the article - the article never actually meant IIPM but was targeting International Management Institute, Belgium whose degrees IIPM students become eligible for (and almost slanderously, used IIPM in the headline simply to grab eyeballs). The article claims students in Belgium using the title 'Master' or 'Bachelor' can even be prosecuted, if it is based on a degree given by IMI. The magazine's one-sided report refused to even acknowledge that IMI at the first place does not offer MBA or BBA degrees. The website and IIPM advertisements clearly mention that what they offer is Post Graduate and Graduate Degrees in management. It's a case of asking a wrong question and getting a wrong reply and then faking an allegation. What it misses to state is the fact that IMI students get a MBA/BBA degree from Buckingham University (which are accredited by QAA, one of the leading European accreditation bodies) and IIPM students have the option of doing one/two years in IMI and earn the same and therefore IIPM is full within its rights to state that IIPM students have an option of earning an MBA/BBA Degree!
In the same magazine, another report went by the heading, which said, "IIPM: Uttarakhand Registrar recommends a ban." where the registrar of UTU again purports issues which already have been dealt with and resolved, namely the 'fake university' etc.
In all this misreporting, what somehow has not got reported is that South India's famous MS University (with even 100-year-old colleges under its fold), which is one of the few Indian universities accredited by NAAC of India with a five star status, has already for quite some time recognized and accredited IIPM's programmes, wherein students at IIPM are eligible to get their UGC approved MBA/BBA. It's a different matter IIPM doesn't publicise the same as they have always tried to stay out of the UGC/AICTE gambit!
IIPM's various global partnerships have also been the subject of some discussions, perhaps due to the fact that there are leading b-schools of the world involved in those partnerships. Interestingly, the names that IIPM tells us sound impressive, to say the least. But some reports dismiss most of these, if not all. One Mba-channel report left us foxed with its opening paragraph. In that, the author writes that when IIPM claims to have cooperation with renowned business schools, IIPM is often false. At the same time, in the same paragraph, the author says that renowned business schools do cooperate with IIPM. Further, the article wrongly lambasts all renowned b-schools partnering IIPM, with the dismissive tagline statement that they're all unethical and do it only for money.
If that was confusing, what comes ahead is more foxing. While the article claims Stanford never had a tie-up with IIPM, this newspaper has with it authenticated documents proving the same tie-up did exist, which resulted in a CEO-strategy workshop too! The article also says that Chicago Graduate School of Business did not have any association with IIPM (It did; and the original contract has been given to this newspaper). The author childishly not only lambasts the most reputed Haas Business School, Judge Business School and Darden Business School as being not anxious about their reputation, but also very loosely pooh-poohs Financial Times London (a most respected newspaper globally) and accuses them of writing puff pieces because they covered IIPM. The author makes a strange sophomoric claim that Judge Business School has warned IIPM to not use its logos. The reality is that when IIPM's contract ended, IIPM was told to stop using Judge's logo- which is a basic formality when any contract ends. The fact remains that about a thousand students from IIPM last year did a Certificate Programme in Advanced Global Management from Judge Business School and Judge was a "Partner B-School" for IIPM's Global Opportunity and Threat Analysis (GOTA) Programme and IIPM was legally allowed by them to use their logo in all their communication during the entire duration. The author in another self published piece claims the German Academic Exchange Service stopped funding a Neu-Ulm University student exchange project with IIPM due to its non-recognition. The author's slanted view becomes clear when she accepts that the German Academic Exchange Service's India office considers IIPM as amongst the top 10 b-schools in India. She also naively misrepresents the University of Bayreuth and the Mercator School of Management at the University of Duisburg-Essen as being "stubborn" in not breaking their IIPM association.
In summary, the author discredits all leading business schools of the world and even all newspapers in India in one line saying they only try to make money through their associations with IIPM (Coincidentally, it's a mirror of the claims of the Indian Careers magazine). Obviously, when there is nothing controversial about an issue or an institute, why would media houses invest their time in making up sensationalist news? That's the reason why newspapers don't report negatively on IIPM, why leading business schools continue their association with IIPM, and even why top faculties from Darden, Yale, MIT-Sloan, Harvard University proudly display IIPM's names on their resumes.
What is actually credit worthy is that all IIPM students are sent by IIPM for two to three weeks to organisations in various continents under GOTA, an initiative now actually being copied by ISB in its PGP MAX programme. GOTA gives students a multi-global exposure in how international corporations implement strategies, as well as getting a first hand idea about the role of governments and global institutions in social and economic development. IIPM students have been hosted - apart from its academic partners - by most prestigious companies and organisations like AXA insurance, Singapore, World Intellectual Property Organization, Switzerland, Deutsche Bank, Munich, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Munich, German Patent and Trademark Office, Allianz, Nestle ,TCS, Germany, Seimens AG, Renault, Paris, Coca Cola, Belgium, EU Parliament, Belgium and the likes.
Acceptably, the media overall has lavished considerable praise on IIPM's placements, which has regularly placed its students in Fortune 500 companies and leading companies of India. In 2008, IIPM placed 2,670 students through campus placements, including 165 international placements, a massive record for that year. In 2009, 2,300 students got 750 companies participating in the campus placements - an unheard of figure considering the fact that it was the toughest year due to the economic slowdown. The average annual pay package that year was also a very good Rs.420,000. But some reports have questioned whether a few companies like Deloitte, Standard Chartered, Barclays actually took IIPM students. Interestingly, we found out that not only have they taken IIPM students, most of them have been taking the IIPM students very regularly over many years.
Overall, the figures speak for themselves. This year, even while three months are left for the placement season to end, IIPM has already placed a mammoth 2031 students (with a domestic average package of Rs.460,000). Total international placements are already touching 33. Companies at campus include the choicest possible, with Google, Standard Chartered, Reliance ADAG, ICICI, Colgate Palmolive, HP, Xerox, IndiaBulls, Yamaha, Capital IQ-S&P, WNS Global, Wipro KPO, Yes Bank, Kingfisher UB Group, Sharp being amongst the cream. IIPM is no alien to such participation, with companies like American Express, Asian Paints, Citibank, Deloitte Consulting, Deutsche Bank, GE Money, HDFC Bank, Kotak, Oracle, Pepsi, Reebok, Vodafone, Yamaha etc having recruited IIPM students officially. No wonder IIPM has regularly got extremely high rankings for its placements and got the award for highest international placements in India for the last two years. While the India Today group's Mail Today ranked IIPM Delhi #1 in Delhi/NCR region in placements, the Zee Business Best B-School survey has regularly ranked IIPM amongst the top 10 in placements all over India.Which brings us to the topic of rankings!
The institute has consistently been ranked amongst the top b-schools in India and has even broken past benchmarks by beating the famed IIMs in a few parameters regularly. Way back in 2002 however, the same news weekly mentioned in the beginning had ranked IIPM 18th across India. In 2003, it again ranked them, but gave them only one rank better, that is 17th across India - and this despite IIPM being in the top fifteen in all quantitative rankings and even 4th on industry interface. It was later found that the research agency, had wrongly used four qualitative rankings to push down IIPM's rankings to 17th. When IIPM complained, apparently to save face, the magazine released an upstart statement almost two years post the incident that IIPM was being taken out from the rankings because IIPM gave the wrong data! Not only was their statement three years too late (IIPM had been ranked high since 2002), but it also opened up a Pandora's box about how their research agency used to take money for advertisements from the same institutions he used to rank as revealed recently by The Sunday Indian magazine (along with a sting on the agency).
IIPM seems to have come out the winner in all this, with recent b-school surveys ranking them very high. In 2009, Zee Business survey ranked IIPM 5th overall (1st in Global Exposure - again ahead of all the IIMs - 5th in Industry Interface, 7th in Course Contents, 8th in Placements). The same year, India Today group's Mail Today ranked IIPM 1st in Placement Record, Quality of Faculty and Global Exposure, and 2nd in Student Development and Network and Infrastructure in the NCR region. Hindustan Times Best B-Schools of India ranked IIPM Delhi 9th overall in India amongst all private B-Schools in India.
Academics and Course Content
Contrary to all the above allegations which are clearly biased and deliberately negative we decided to look at IIPMs main claim to fame that its courses are "qualitatively superior and intellectually stimulating", hence are superior to normal MBA and BBA academic programs. When we reviewed the same, there seemed to be much weight in the argument. The standard IIPM course itself is 22 months and 1944 hour long, with a heavy emphasis on entrepreneurship and national economic planning, with economics liberally and exhaustively being taught at various levels. Why IIPM believes in this is not a secret - while general MBA courses focus only on how to generate more and more profits, the IIPM programmes teach the critical additional connect between national growth, private enterprises and entrepreneurship; and the need to coordinate their growth for equitable social development to occur. All this is supported hand in hand by the IIPM Think Tank, the center of all IIPM research. The IIPM Think Tank supports the high quality magazines like The Sunday Indian, Business and Economy and 4Ps Business and Marketing and brings out top class journals, namely Strategic Innovators, India Economy Review and Need The Dough, which have commentaries and global research by esteemed and highly respected faculties/practitioners including Nobel Prize winning authors and ivy league professors. From the Economist to IMF published papers have regularly referred to IIPM Think Tank's research. This is apart from the fact that IIPM has in past officially been the research partner for Yale School of Management in developing the India-investor confidence index survey.
Unlike other B-Schools whose professors bring out books which are hardly read even by their own students, IIPMs books from Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch to The Great Indian Dream to the latest blockbuster Discover The Diamond In You have all been No.1 Best-Sellers in India. IIPM has even been a UNDP key partner institution in India and a member of the World Bank Institute's CSR committee in past. No wonder then that it has been awarded the best B-School in the non IIM category for two consecutive years!
In conclusion of our investigations, we realised that IIPM has been in the forefront of public discussions because never before has any institute - with strong rationale - been courageous enough to challenge the legacy ranking of b-schools that has existed unquestioned and almost unchanged within India for years. Of course, advertising oneself is a critical strategic tool used extremely intelligently by IIPM - one which has given it many followers, but also some critics (especially from the IIMs), who perhaps find it hard to see the abovementioned legacy rankings challenged and being changed for the first time in recent history. Blogs, clearly illogical and defamatory Wikipedia entries, chat forums, twitter, facebook, are proof to the fact about how easy it is to misrepresent facts using puerile, infantile and immature discussions based on anonymous users. Visit any forum and you would realise that authenticity is a virtue rarely found, and brash criticism by vitriol loaded speakers available a dime a dozen. The truth however very often is clearly something else as we found out in the case of IIPM!