Business schools across the country are grappling with a new problem, that is shortage of faculty. Many are roping in visiting faculty from abroad. They fly in, take classes and go back; students can stay connected on the internet or through video link.
Italy’s MISB Bocconi, which has set up shop in Mumbai, will have 23 faculty members (according to its website) coming regularly from Milan. The institute is in the process of recruiting permanent faculty. At MYRA School of Business, Mysore, there is a faculty of 18, which includes 14 expatriates from the US and Europe — mostly persons of Indian origin. In Karjat-based Universal Business School, of the 20 teachers, 12 are visiting faculty and five among them are from abroad, according to Tarun Anand, co-founder. The story is no different in other business schools.
Just how acute is the shortage? Nobody has an estimate, but some numbers can be worked out. In India, there are no fewer than 3,500 business schools with about 400 students each. That makes the student strength 1.4 million. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which regulates business education, has mandated a faculty of four for every 60 students – one teacher for 15 students. This means the 3,500 business schools require at least 90,000 teachers for the 1.4 million students. Against this, business schools admit, the vacancies are as high as 50 per cent. In other words, short of at least 45,000 teachers.
The reason, apart from the sheer demand, is the remuneration on offer at most business schools — it’s simply too low. After studying, most students want to get into high-paying jobs in companies rather than becoming a teacher. Business schools allow teachers to take consultancy assignments with corporations to supplement their income.
But there are restrictions on it, and such assignments are hard to come by in these days of economic slowdown. It is also an open secret that many small business schools are under-capitalised and lack the basic infrastructure; they simply can’t afford to pay competitive salaries.
Not that the marquee names aren’t feeling the pinch. “There are many Indians who want to come back to India after a few years of teaching abroad. The only hitch is the remuneration Indian B-schools offer. Internationally, their salaries are at par with corporate salaries, but this is not the case in India. Thus, B-schools have to get them on visiting basis,” said a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. IIM-A has around 85 faculty members against the sanctioned strength of 120. At the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai, there are only six permanent faculty members and 90 visiting ones.
“Getting global faculty is an interim strategy to fill in faculty gap in India. This is nothing new. Even when the IITs were initially established, they drew faculty from top US institutes. Once they were established, the faculty came in. It is easier that way. We are following a similar trend,” says Shalini Urs, chairman and founder of MYRA School of Business, which will begin operations from July. “The majority of our faculty is made up of visiting professors and stay on campus for two to three weeks. This allows our students to take just one course during a given two-week period and be fully involved with a single course and the professor during that period.”
This could be a stop-gap solution, but in the long run, the country will have to build a strong cadre of teachers. There is a proposal to launch a national mission on teachers and training in the 12th Five-Year Plan. It needs to take off as early as possible.