Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remarkable development in higher education

From 1947 onwards, the Indian government pushed one strategy for higher education: that of universities run mostly like government departments, and entry barriers that hindered new ideas from coming about. By and large, this approach has consistently yielded failure.

One innovation which slipped through the cracks was the Indian School of Business. Today, ISB has scored rank 15 of the world's business schools (after getting to rank 20 last year). Also see the Financial Times rankings page.

This is a really remarkable achievement. There is no other global ranking where an Indian university has come out at rank 15. This is particularly an achievement when we consider that ISB only got started in 2001, and it normally takes many decades for a university to achieve a reputation. As an example, IIT Bombay got started in 1957 and eight years later (i.e. 1965) it had a lot less prominence when compared with today. This emphasises the importance of the business process innovations that distinguish ISB from the mainstream strategy of universities that are run mostly like government departments.


  1. I appreciate your view on the system as an Academic Dr. Shah, but reputations do take as you say a few decades to establish. In the sense that to the layman a graduate degree from an IIT would probably be more recognisable, then one from the ISB.

    Its great that a private Indian institution has preformed well in terms of rankings and I am guessing the major point you make is that there are lessons that the country can learn from its success that that the government can and should apply to its own educational institutions.

    But I think it would be unfair to say that the ISB's reputation could be compared to the IIT just yet, based on what business school rankings have been saying for the last couple of years, largely because they have been defined as India's elite institutions for decades.

    Even if they do produce better quality professionals, its a snob's world unfortunately, and perception often trumps reality, which is something that could probably be said about the world in general.

  2. The Indian Institutes of Management, all 6 of them, didn't participate in the Financial Times survey. So we have a few more world class institutions than indicated by the Financial Times ratings, though the value of debating which of these within India should be rated higher is itself debtable. Of course we can't ignore the startling fact that the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad are cycling downhill at a great pace while continuing to enjoy a high altitude with no pedaling,compared to their counterparts, mainly due to "past glory".

  3. Also, does anyone really take FT rankings seriously. Look at the top 5 schools they have ranked and it will speak volumes about their flawed approach/methodologies. Even, in India, ISB is considered second rung by recruiters.

  4. also one can easily verify that Mck, BCG etc..hire in great numbers from ISB the same treatment is not extended to many of the other great colleges..


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