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Mumbai: About 140 schools offering MBA courses are expected to close this year, says Crisil

A boom in India’s management education sector that saw the number of business schools triple to almost 4,000 over the last five years has ended as students find expensive courses are no guarantee of a well-paid job in a slowing economy. India’s seemingly unstoppable economic rise, an aspiring middle class’ desire to stand out in a competitive job market, and a lucrative opportunity for investors fuelled a bubble in business education that is now starting to deflate. About 140 schools offering Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses are expected to close this year, as 35 %of their places were vacant in 2011-12, up from 15-20 percent in 2006-07, a report by ratings agency Crisil found.

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These schools must be affiliated to a university, have a maximum of 120 students and fees are capped by state governments. A second stream allows colleges to offer diplomas that are not accredited by AICTE. There are no standardised curriculums, class sizes are bigger and fees can be higher. An institution can offer both accredited and non-accredited MBA courses. In a city such as Pune, something of an education hub, it costs about R40-50 million over two years to set up a management school, which can be as basic as a modest building with classrooms, a small library and a computer room.

When demand was outrunning supply, students were willing to pay high fees for the autonomous courses, that tend to be more industry-relevant, in order to get a leg up in the job market. “People who had some land and money saw a great investment opportunity in the demand-supply gap and there was a rush to open schools,” said Dhiraj Mathur, executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “They were not thinking about the faculty, location, employability and brand name. They thought setting up a school would take care of the rest.”

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