IIM directors firm up against Centre’s plan to probe board, terms it unlawful

Directors of 20 IIM protest government’s concern with one-year management course and decision to probe the board of directors of an institute which allegedly flouts UGC Act 1956

Representative photo: iStock

Directors of at least 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) have said that the Centre’s decision to start a probe against the board of governors of one of the business schools, goes against the autonomy granted to these educational institutes in the IIM Act and is in contravention of the National Education Policy (NEP).

The Ministry of Human Resource Development recently raised concerns over the one-year executive MBA degree offered at IIMs, stating that the same was “not in accordance with the UGC regulations” as it was a one-year course while it is mandatory for a master’s degree course to be for two years under UGC rules.

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The government had reportedly in letters to 20 institutes had asked them to “act in conformity with the UGC Act 1956”.

The government later shared a draft executive order with the law ministry that would give it powers to initiate an inquiry against one of the IIMs which allegedly breached the IIM Act, 2017.

Reacting to the issue, the heads of IIMs in an interaction with Indian Express said the concerns of the education ministry in regard to the MBA course in question were not serious enough for the Centre to take matters into its own hands.

“I think the one-year degree issue is being used as an excuse to get the law ministry involved and push this proposal (to probe the IIM board of governors) through. The world over MBA programmes for working professionals are of one-year duration. This proposal probably has more to do with the bureaucracy not being able to come to terms with the fact that the IIMs are now entirely free of government control,” IE quoted the chairperson of an IIM Board as saying.

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Another director of an IIM board called it an “ego issue” for the government which was “in bad taste”.

“As far as checks and balances are concerned, our alumni, who have a decent representation on the BoG, will never allow the institute to do something that will hurt the IIM brand. This (the government’s proposal) goes against the grain of the NEP,” he told IE.

Another director of an older institute said the latest decision of the government goes against the Prime Minister’s Office past stand to thwart attempts to “insert provisions to introduce government control.”

“Whoever is doing this is negating what the PM has said and challenging the NEP’s wisdom,” he said.

As many as 20 business schools were empowered with autonomy including the power to appoint directors, chairpersons and board members when the IIM Act came into effect on January 31, 2018.

Earlier, the business schools had decided to approach the government to convene a meeting of the forum to discuss the letter sent to them.

“The IIMs are responsible institutions. The one-year degree programme meets global standards and is also ranked among the best internationally. We do not come under the ambit of the UGC. We will have to figure out how to bring the government on board and see our point of view,” a director of one of the IIM boards had said.

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