Ten years ago, Galit Shmueli would not have contemplated coming to India to teach, for the fear of being isolated from the research community in the West. Today, the Israeli academician, an associate professor of statistics and information systems (IS) at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business (ISB), says “geographical location is no longer a barrier, thanks to the high-speed internet.”
Be it the gloomy economic scenario in the West or the growing numbers of globally acclaimed B-schools of India, domestic campuses are finding more number of non-Indian origin people applying for faculty posts.
At the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), the number of applications for faculty posts from foreign nationals has gone up from zero earlier to seven at present. “While the slowdown could be one of the reasons for academicians in the West looking towards India and Asia, we believe this is also because of IIM-A making it to the Financial Times (FT) rankings globally that has attracted these foreign nationals,” says dean-academics, Ajay Pandey.
- At IIM-Ahmedabad, the number of applications for faculty posts from foreign nationals has gone up from zero earlier to seven now
- IIM-Calcutta hired around 20 faculty members in the last two years, and several have come from international universities
- ISB says applications for faculty posts have been pouring in from people who are not of Indian origin over the past few years
Shmueli is finding the research culture at ISB similar to those in the US. “From the cultural point of view, most of my colleagues at ISB are Indians who had spent at least five years in top B-schools in the US. Hence, the research culture is very similar to my experience in the US and there is a lot of common ground. We all travel to the West to attend major conferences, and collaborate with colleagues abroad using Skype, email, and collaborative document sharing tools,” she says.
Ajit Balakrishnan, chairman, board of governors, IIM Calcutta (IIM-C), says, “In the last couple of years it has become relatively easier to get PhDs. More NRIs are wanting to join Indian B-schools. While the IIMs are gaining in stature, the grim economic scenario internationally is also a factor.”
IIM-C has hired around 20 faculty members in the last two years, and several of them have come from international universities. It has a pool of 95 faculty members.
The economic slowdown has meant financial trouble for international universities. According to The Economist, long-term debt at not-for-profit universities in America has been growing at 12 per cent a year, estimate Bain & Company, a consultancy, and Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm. A new report looked at the balance sheets and cashflow statements of 1,692 universities and colleges between 2006 and 2010, and found one-third were significantly weaker than they had been several years earlier. Even Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Georgetown have been on an unsustainable path in recent years, says Bain, though all have big endowments to cushion themselves.
At ISB, applications have been pouring in from people who are not of Indian origin over the past few years. But given the fact that the school looks for people who get into the top 30-50 schools world over, the demand continues to remain strong and supply weak. “There is a substantial interest among NRIs to come, and it is easier for us to hire now than it was last year,” says Sanjay Kallapur, senior associate dean, faculty and research development.
“There has been an increase in demand from people in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Though the US economy is still not doing well, the starting salaries have increased by 10 per cent,” says Kallapur.
ISB takes about a year to close an appointment for junior professors and three to five years for senior professors.
The institute says it cannot pay international faculty members the same salary as that of the US. So, it benchmarks the salaries at about 60 per cent of the US salaries. “Now that the rupee has become cheaper, we cannot fully compensate for the same. This means we can’t reach 60 per cent of the US salaries. It has become more like 50 per cent of the US salaries,” says Kallapur.
Salaries at ISB are fixed in rupee terms and are benchmarked against the dollar when it was 40. The rupee on Tuesday slid to a fresh low of Rs 55.39 against the dollar. It has declined by 11.5 per cent since February.
ISB has 46 permanent faculty staff, and says it will continue to hire for a long time, as its programmes keep expanding. It opened a Mohali centre in Punjab this year. ISB’s salaries are better than its industry peers, which is why the IIMs say they are facing a challenge from ISB when it comes to recruiting international faculty members.
Meanwhile, Shmueli is positive on the Indian B-school scenario. “Because the concept of research at B-schools in India is new, another important area for growth is PhD programmes. Top B-schools have strong PhD programmes that support and expand faculty research, as well as providing a pool of new faculty. I look forward to seeing this growth in the next few years,” she adds.