Students as customers in management institutes

Economy & Nation
Students as customers in management institutes

A director of a well-known management institution in Mumbai was a man who believed in discipline. Nothing wrong with that. However, he treated the faculty members in such a condescending manner that attrition became severe in a couple of years. One of my students who returned to India after completing his doctorate from Cornell and had joined this institute, recalled with horror – “This man was over 60 and had a strong hold with the management. The promoter of the institution allowed the subjugation of all his responsibilities to this senior citizen turned director who got completely corrupted by power. His rules of discipline differed depending on the rapport that he shared with the faculty members. The ones who showed lot of promise and were perceived to be a threat to him were removed unceremoniously.”
This director had a different set of disciplinary rules for himself and his personal staff. So much was the mental torture that was faced by faculty members that till today they curse him for his misdemeanours. Eventually the institute realised that they were losing precious human capital with this man at the helm of the affairs and within no time, he was replaced. This shows two things – first- how power corrupts people and makes them lash their harsh tongue at unsuspecting employees and – second – how management institutes that teach subjects like human resources (HR) behave in a contrarian manner with its own employees.
Some of the other activities of this director were peeping through the glass windows of the lecture halls when the session was going on, indulging in loose talk with almost everyone, boring everyone to death with his past achievements and abusing the teaching fraternity. As if all this was not enough, this man once flew into a rage when he realised that all the faculty members were rated well by his students. “There is something fishy in this,” he muttered to all and sundry and he then decided that he would investigate this matter. In no time, the institute lost its prestigious status and along with it student numbers also fell drastically. The promoter, who was in sleep mode all the while, woke up far too late. Today this college’s ranking has slipped abysmally.
I was a visiting faculty in a management college in Pune. Though this institution charged hefty fees from students, the infrastructure was not up to the mark. Dirty toilets, unhygienic canteens and classrooms full of dirt aggravated the poor impression. So long as the going was good, everything was fine. But students started complaining and their pleas fell on deaf ears. Word was soon out and the enrolments started dipping slowly and steadily. It was unbelievable that the dean or Head of Department (HoD) did not find it appropriate to sound off the management about the pathetic state of affairs. Their apathy resulted from the fact that any reductions in cost highlighted by them were rewarded by the management. So, in case they showed that costs had reduced by 20% from the previous year, the dean and the HoD got a sizeable cut. But this was more of a near-sighted approach. This cost the institution by way of students preferring to join other management institutes or universities.
A cousin of mine works in a management college in Central Bengaluru. Their Master in Business Administration (MBA) program is affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU). The chairman runs the show literally though they have a full time director. Micro management is to such an extent that even attendance records are not spared. Chairman’s relatives enrol their children in the school. If the students are rebuked for a genuine reason, then the next day the faculty member gets a termination notice. If students do not study and fail the examination, the faculty member is sacked. If a faculty member tries to discipline the students, the next day the faculty member is shown the door. No wonder – the attrition in this institute is about 80%. I wonder how the Ministry of Human Resource Development would react to this sort of attitude by management institutes.
With their only aim to make money and more money, most management institutes hire senior citizens who come cheap. These people, who have little training on human resource practices, use their sepia-tainted procedures and policies in the Internet era. Poor faculty members have to bear with this nonsense or bid goodbye to academics. As if to add insult to injury, most institutes do not pay salaries as per Sixth Pay Commission. Is Prakash Javadekar, the Minister of HRD, listening?
When students become customers and acquire the power to make teachers lose their jobs at the slightest provocation that is the end of the road. Students will pass out and go but it is the faculty, who will stay with an institution through thick and thin. Such a hire and fire policy in management institutes will not yield any strategic benefits for the institution. By the time the promoter wakes up from sleep, it would be too late. If word spreads around, then no faculty member would join such institutes. Yes, it is true that faculty members need to be rated on performance. But student rating should be only one part of such assessment. Student assessment of the teacher cannot be the sole means of rating a teacher. If we are to follow this American model, the day is not far when no one would be willing to join academia.
Ironically, the management institutes that teach motivational theories to students have people at the helm of the affairs, who have little or no inclination to motivate others – the faculty members and the office staff. If this is how things look

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