EWIHER 2023-24:India’s Top 100 Private B-Schools

EducationWorld May 2023 | Cover Story Magazine

Since the Central government-promoted IIMs admit a minuscule 2 percent of the 2.2 lakh graduates who write their annual CAT (Common Admission Test), in 2016 your editors took a considered decision to rank only non-government private B-schools which admit the vast majority of business management students, writes Dilip Thakore

SPJMIR's Varun Nagaraj (left): "consistent commitment to excellence"

SPJMIR’s Varun Nagaraj (left): “consistent commitment to excellence”

India’s top-ranked B-schools led by the 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the first of which — IIM-Calcutta — was established in the early 1960s followed by IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore shortly thereafter, sited on hundreds of acres of lush campuses but who admit barely 5,000-6,000 postgraduate students per year, have transformed into islands of privilege and unaccountability. Requests for interviews by your editors are routinely rejected by busy directors. Yet half a century since they were established with American largesse (a subject on which they suffer collective amnesia), the IIMs, which until the new millennium used to heavily subsidise students’ tuition and residence fees (current fees: circa Rs. 13 lakh per year), have failed to revolutionise India Inc. Per-employee productivity and returns in Indian industry remain among the lowest of major nations.

Nevertheless, India Inc and increasingly offshore corporates, rate IIM alumni highly and starting salary packages of Rs.60 lakh going up to Rs.1.5 crore for graduates are not uncommon. Certainly they overwhelmingly dominate all media rankings of the country’s most admired B-schools.

For this very reason after including them in the initial B-school rankings of EducationWorld where they outranked all others, and also because they collectively admitted a minuscule 2 percent of the 2.2 lakh graduates who wrote their annual CAT (Common Admission Test), your editors took a considered decision to rank only non-government private B-schools which admit the vast majority of business management students.

Since then, the annual EW league tables of India’s most admired private B-schools has been dominated by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad (ISB, estb.2002) crowd-funded by some of the biggest names in India Inc (Ambani, Godrej, Piramal, Goenka among others) at an estimated cost of Rs.250 crore on a 260-acre state-of-the-art campus in Gachibowli, in suburban Hyderabad.

ISB, Hyderabad campus: impregnable fortress

ISB, Hyderabad campus: impregnable fortress

This private sector response in business management education was spurred by a determined bid made by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, education minister of the BJP government (1999-2004) to pack the boards and take control of the IITs and IIMs. Fortunately, this bid strongly resisted by the media, and especially EducationWorld, failed and the BJP government was voted out of office at the Centre in General Election 2004. Subsequently in 2015, Smriti Irani, education minister under the first Modi government, also tried to pack the boards of the IIMs and failed for the same reason, but that’s another story (see educationworld.in/hostile-takeover-bid-2-0).

Yet of late, ISB has taken a few leaves out of the IIMs’ book and has transformed into an impregnable fortress for the media. Even e-mail messages which don’t conform to pre-determined classifications are rejected by the software, the switchboard is strictly prohibited from disclosing cell numbers and landline numbers get no response. Therefore, your ‘umble editors were unable to pass on glad tidings to Director Madan Pillutla or derive any information relating to the future plans of this high and mighty B-school (tuition and residence fee: Rs.25 lakh for a 13-month programme) in limine the new NEP 2020.

Following ISB is the perennial second XLRI — Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur — “the oldest B-school in India” — which has been awarded higher scores than ISB under several important parameters viz, student selection process, placements, life skills education and value for money.

Beyond the perennial Top 2, there’s very minor rearrangement of seating at top table. The low-profile Management Development Institute, Gurugram retains its #3 ranking, although this year it has to share it with the S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai. NMIMS, Mumbai is ranked #4 (cf. 3 in 2022-23) together with Institute of Management (IMT), Ghaziabad. The only surprise is the K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai which has been promoted to #5 (8), a rank it shares with the ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad (6).

Prof. Varun Nagaraj, director of SPJIMR, Mumbai (estb.1981 by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), is more forthcoming and appreciative of the EW Private B-schools Rankings. “Our India #3 rank demonstrates SPJIMR’s consistent commitment to excellence and preparing students for success in the rapidly-evolving business world. Although not as well known, SPJIMR graduates are as good as any of the best B-schools in the country. One of the significant metrics that sets SPJIMR apart is our innovative and industry-relevant curriculum delivered by highly qualified and experienced faculty with many of them having acquired significant industry experience, as testified by our high score under the industry interface parameter.”

The imminent entry of foreign universities and presumably B-schools doesn’t bother SPJIMR. “We already have exchange programmes with several top-ranked B-schools around the world which will be strengthened to provide our students a global perspective and exposure to different cultures and business practices,” says Nagaraj, an alumnus of IIT-Bombay, Boston University and North Carolina State University, who acquired over 30 years of teaching and academic experience of industry and academia before being appointed dean of SPJIMR in 2021. Currently, SPJIMR has 1,200 students mentored by 72 faculty on its muster rolls.

KJSIM's Ramachandran (left): access advantage

KJSIM’s Ramachandran (left): access advantage

Likewise, Dr. Raman Ramachandran, dean and director of K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, Mumbai (KJSIM), is pleased with the ascent of this 42-year-old B-school in the EW league table. “We are delighted to be ranked among India’s Top 5 most admired private B-schools. It’s a testimony to KJSIM’s legacy of over 40 years of world-class business management education. It’s not the only good news we have received. Our recent accreditation by the Florida (USA)-based AACSB is also an endorsement of global standards of teaching and research that we provide our students. These accolades are the outcome of our faculty’s relentless focus on excellence and sustained effort to ensure students and faculty have the best teaching and research environment. As a constituent institute of Somaiya Vidyavihar University, our students and faculty have access to multidisciplinary education on our campus which is specially mandated by the National Education Policy 2020,” says Dr. Ramachandran, an alum of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi with a Ph D from University of Adelaide and over three decades of corporate experience who was appointed director and dean of KJSIM in 2022.

Like most top-level educators, Dr. Ramachandran is unfazed by the imminent entry of foreign universities into India. “Contrary to popular perception, this is a very positive development as we don’t necessarily regard foreign B-schools as competitors. We also believe this will create opportunities for partnerships based on the strengths that each player will bring. We already have several international tie-ups. So, we are confident that we will be able to leverage this new policy to enhance educational experiences of our students and upgrade research and innovation capability,” adds Ramachandran.

Further down the Top 10 table, there’s been a minor re-arrangement of the pecking order. Most private B-schools have either retained or conceded a rank. The Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar and Amity School of Business, Noida have retained their 2022-23 rankings. And beyond the Top 10, the Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore has risen impressively to #11 (14) and #1 in Tamil Nadu.

It’s important — especially for business management students who don’t want to stray far from home — to note that several private B-schools which are modestly ranked nationally, are top-ranked in their host states. For instance, the Jagdish Sheth School of Management (formerly IFIM), Bengaluru has retained its last year’s #13 rank, but significantly, it is the top-ranked private B-school of Karnataka (pop.64 million). Likewise, IIHMR, Jaipur, ranked #14 nationally is the #1 private B-school of Rajasthan (pop.81 million).


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