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Branding Disaster: Eduniversal Ranks Indian 1 Year MBA Courses In Executive MBA Category, Media Equally Confused

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Eduniversal’s 2016 ranking is out and all Indian One Year Full Time MBA programmes, except Indian School of Business’ One Year MBA (PGP), have been ranked in the wrong category of Executive MBA courses. The branding for the One Year MBA course at Indian B-Schools, that wrongly uses the ‘executive’ word for a full-time programme seems to be at the root of the mix-up. 

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet to Romeo in William Shakespeare’s famous play, “Romeo & Juliet”. That may be the case in fiction, but when it comes to branding a product, the name plays a very significant role.  

One year MBA courses in India, that go under various names such as Post Graduate Programme for Executives (PGPX) and Executive Post Graduate Programme in Management (EPGP), have led to even well-known University ranking agencies such as Eduniversal mixing up the one-year MBA courses offered by Indian B-Schools and putting them in the incorrect category.

That the use of the ‘executive’ word in the branding of these One Year MBA courses has led to the mix-up is borne out by the fact that ISB’s One Year MBA, which is called Post-Graduate Programme and does not carry the ‘executive’ moniker, has been ranked correctly in the ranking of ‘Full-time MBA’ courses.

In Eduniversal’s recent ranking – all Indian One Year Full Time MBA programmes except Indian School of Business’ One Year MBA have been ranked in the wrong category of Executive MBA courses – which are part-time courses pursued by working professionals. One year MBA programmes are not for working professionals – these are fully residential courses. (See the ranking in question here: Executive MBA Ranking)

That the use of the ‘executive’ word in the branding of these One Year MBA courses has led to the mix-up is borne out by the fact that ISB’s One Year MBA, which is called Post-Graduate Programme and does not carry the ‘executive’ moniker, has been ranked correctly in the ranking of ‘Full-time MBA’ courses.

Top Indian B-Schools are killing their own brand to ISB’s advantage, despite some having a higher ranked One Year MBA course, with better placement numbers and global MBA accreditation from AMBA

branding-disaster-exposed-eduniversal-ranks-indian-1-one-year-mba-courses-in-executive-mba-media-equally-confused-pgpx-epgp-ipmx-pgpex-isb-pgp-iim-are-executive-mba-courses-worth-it-are-one-year-mba-courses-worth-it-one-year-mba-vs-executive-mbaAlso, to add to the confusion, the 2-year management courses being run by the IIMs and several other management institutes in India cater mainly to fresh graduates with practically no work experience have been ranked in the wrong ranking of Full time MBA courses, since they are positioned as MBAs by Indian B-Schools, despite failing to meet global standards for the course. (See the ranking here: Full Time MBA Ranking)

These pre-experience programmes are accredited by Masters in Business Management (MBM’s) or programmes for freshers, by Association of MBAs, UK (AMBA).

Internationally, MBA programs, one-year or two-year, are for those with substantial work experience ranging between 3-7 years, looking to further their career prospects in higher echelons of management. These are full time courses, requiring presence of students in the campus.

Indian B-Schools have adopted the use of the word ‘Executive’ in the branding of their One Year MBA to differentiate it from the 2-year program. But this is misleading – executives are people who work during the day in full time jobs – not students with work experience who have left their jobs for full time study!

“The MBA is defined as a career development generalist programme for those who have significant post-graduation work experience on which the learning process should explicitly build,” says The Association of MBAs (AMBA) that accredits and governs MBA institutes worldwide.

“Students are expected to have a minimum of three years appropriate and relevant postgraduate work experience upon entry and the student body as a whole should average at least five years of such experience,” it adds.

branding-disaster-exposed-eduniversal-ranks-indian-1-one-year-mba-courses-in-executive-mba-media-equally-confused-pgpx-epgp-ipmx-pgpex-isb-pgp-iim-are-executive-mba-courses-worth-it-are-one-year-mba-courses-worth-it-one-year-mba-vs-executive-mbaAMBA also defines the aim of an MBA as to “enhance and develop previous relevant experience in business and management” and “prepare students for leadership and transformational roles in business.”

One Year MBA courses in India, in line with with these standard require 3-5 years of work-experience.

Internationally, B-Schools also have programs for those students who would want to an MBA part time for various reasons. These are titled as Executive MBA programs with far less stringent requirements than the regular courses – these are pursued typically by seasoned professionals with 15-30 years work-experience to gain knowledge, not to switch streams or get placed.

The course duration of such courses is often shorter, may include distance learning, lesser hours of classes, maybe during the weekends and the like. Since the requirements and rigours are far lesser and the participants already in senior management roles, the ‘jump’ in the career of the candidates tends to be lower than those in full time programs.

Most of the IIMs and other institutes have adopted the use of the word ‘Executive’ in the branding of their One Year MBA to differentiate it from the 2-year program. But this is misleading – executives are people who work during the day in full time jobs – not students with work experience who have left their jobs for full time study!

This branding creates confusion and more importantly, erodes the brand value of India’s first globally accredited MBAs. The two-year programs run by these institutes as MBA courses are not recognized at par with full time MBA programs abroad. Even in India, those who complete such courses are absorbed in companies only as management trainees while the One Year MBA programmes at Indian B-Schools are accredited as Full-Time MBAs by Association of MBAs, UK (AMBA).

ALSO READ: IIM A’s One Year MBA Ranked No.1 MBA In World For Career Progression: Financial Times 2016 Ranking

The confusion persists in the media too. Way back in 2013, Business Today took the trouble of separating the ranking of one year MBA courses in India from the two year PGP courses, it erred n bundling executive MBA (part time course for executives working in full time jobs) with one year full time MBA (full time residential course for candidates with work experience mandated internationally as eligibility for an MBA degree). Ref : BT’s MBA ranking mixes up executive MBA and one year MBA: oneyearmba.co.in dtd. October11, 2013.

More recently, The Hindu, on January 8, 2016, fell victim to the same mistake in an article titled ‘What they will teach you at Harvard Mumbai’ comparing IIM Ahmedabad’s PGPX programme and Harvard Business School’s Senior Executives Leadership Program.

The newspaper on January 22, 2016 published a clarification that read:

The IIMA PGPX programme is a decade-old, one-year fully residential programme for students with substantial work experience with approximately 600 contact sessions. In contrast, the yet-to-be launched HBS SELP is an executive education offering that proposes four modules (two off-campus modules of 10 and 11 days and two on-campus modules of 5 and 10 days each) with approximately 140 contact sessions, the institute said.

Further, entry into IIMA’s PGPX programme requires a formal application including submission of GMAT scores, while entry into HBS’s SELP does not have formal educational requirements. IIMA’s PGPX programme belongs to the category of one-year experienced MBA programmes, comparable to one-year MBA programmes offered by European institutions, such as INSEAD and IESE, it said.

“We believe directly comparing IIMA PGPX with HBS SELP is comparing apples with oranges and is likely to cause confusion,” The Hindu quoted Prof Sunil Sharma, chairperson, PGPX, IIMA as saying.

While Eduniversal did not respond to our query on the confusion over the rankings, IIM B refused to comment.

IIM-B chose to announce it thus: “The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) has been ranked No 1 in Central Asia for three of its long-duration programmes – the two-year Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP), the one-year Post Graduate Programme in Public Policy & Management (PGPPM) and the one-year fulltime residential Executive Post Graduate Programme (EPGP), in the Eduniversal 2015-’16 Best Masters Ranking.”

Indian B-Schools are killing their own brand to ISB’s advantage, despite having higher ranked One Year MBA courses with better placement numbers and global MBA accreditation from AMBA.

The branding is also affecting the careers of One Year MBA graduates in India who routinely get mistaken for graduates of an Executive MBA by Human Resource executives. Students report having to struggle to explain the difference between their course – an MBA completed in one-year and the pre-experience two-year PGP/ PGDM programmes in India which B-Schools present as MBA programmes despite their status as MBMs.

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