If you are an MBA aspirant, do not blindly accept B school ranking surveys
By Rashmi Bansal
The huge interest in pursuing an MBA has made ‘B School rankings’ an annual feature of several magazines. B school rankings issues sell – but do they actually guide mostly ignorant aspirants? Do they provide credible information and help you make better choices?
Going by the Business Today b school rankings 2006, we feel the answer is a definite “NO”. The magazine, along with AC Nielsen ORG MARG has conducted a ‘perception’ survey to rank India’s top 30 b schools. Hard facts play NO role at all in this survey.
The survey has evoked shock and disbelief in the b school community. Prof Madhukar Shukla of XLRI gives the BT ranking an ‘F’. JAM feels these are some of the ranking results which do not make sense:
1) Symbiosis is a good b school but I would not rank it above IIM Lucknow (# 5), XLRI (# 6) or FMS Delhi (# 8) for sure.
2) We would not rank IIPM New Delhi (# 11 ) – above S P Jain (# 14), IIM Kozhikode (#12), Welingkar (#14), NMIMS (# 17), TISS (#18), MDI Gurgaon (# 18), LIBA (# 20), Bimtech (# 21), XIM Bhubaneshwar (# 22), BIM Trichy (# 22), NIM Ahmedabad (# 24), IMT Ghaziabad (# 25), K J Somaiya (# 26) or Christ College (# 27).
3) ICFAI Hyderabad ranked # 13 too seems too high.
4) While Bimtech and LIBA are decent b schools I don’t think they are in the same league as MDI Gurgaon or XIM Bhubaneshwar. But the survey places them on almost the same rungs of the ladder.
In fact we at JAM don’t believe rankings help aspirants in the decision process. JAM will, in the near future, publish a b school rating – as we have done in the past for engineering colleges.
Why we don’t agree with the BT ranking:
First of all, there is a problem with the choice of sample. The inclusion of ‘MBA aspirants’ (they constitute 25% of the survey sample of 526) is questionable. Surveying the very people who need information about b schools does not seem like a good idea.
“Aren’t surveys meant to help the ‘MBA wannabes’ to make a rational choice? And maybe even the ‘recruiters’ to decide on the B-Schools to source from?”, asks Prof Madhukar Shukla of XLRI.
Secondly, the survey uses A C Nielsen’s ‘proprietary Winning Brands model’. But can a model which is designed to measure the Brand Equity score of conventional FMCG products or services be employed for educational institutes?
Nielsen’s own website states that Winning Brands addresses the following ‘marketing issues’:
JAM believes a b school is a brand, but its equity is NOT built on advertising. The equity of an educational institute rests on a combination of factors. The most important ones being:
What’s more, Winning Brands uses a ‘behavioural observation’ of brand equity. Analyst Jonathan Knowles explains in layman terms: <I>Brand equity is measured in terms of a customer’s frequency of purchase and the price premium paid. Once favorable behavior is observed, the methodology seeks to analyze the attitudinal characteristics of those customers.</I>
‘Frequency of purchase’ in case of MBA is essentially once in a lifetime. There is no explanation from either the market research agency or the magazine on how Winning Brands was adapted to fit the b school category .
AC Nielsen, when contacted declined to comment.
Fine Print Issues
But has the institute instituted changes at the ground level? If that is so, it is indeed a heartening development. However, Business Today has not provided any information on that front.
The magazine has devoted 4 pages to SIBM – because it knows that Symbiosis being ranked # 4 will create a ripple in the b school community. By the same yardstick, if you rank IIPM # 11 above S P Jain/ IIM Kozhikode/ TISS etc you do need to tell readers why this ranking holds true.
Instead, several pages are devoted to the cult of the IIMs. These tidbits may be fun to read – but ultimately they do nothing for a b school aspirant.
a) Recommendations of friends and seniors. What they say carries more weight than any published b school ranking
b) Consult your coaching class staff, if you have joined one. They generally provide reliable advice.
c) Research a college you may be considering on google, or forums like pagalguy.com and mouthshut.com
You can also post your query on the Career Queries section OR email at firstname.lastname@example.org