Demand for Bangalore University's MBA seats takes a nosedive

The MBA course in Bangalore University (BU) seems to be in turbulence. Over the last three years, the number of seats going empty has risen, particularly so in 2013. In 2011, 2,000 seats out of 8,000 went abegging, in 2012 around 2,500 of the 8,000 seats remained vacant. 

In 2013, of the 12,000 seats, 7,500 have remained unfilled. Placements too are falling with companies not keen to undertake the process in BU. And where placements happen, students get paid a measly Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000 a month. 

M K Sridhar, director of the MBA course at BU, told Deccan Herald that a combination of micro and macro factors are responsible for the MBA decline. Five years back, the course was doing well and empty seats were not a worry. The trend changed over the last three years. 

Confusion over which qualifying exam to write for the MBA was the immediate reason for seats going empty. Students wondered whether they had to write the PGCET, CMAT or the university’s own exam. 

Scores of students not knowing which exam to write did not apply for MBA at BU. As the number of applications fell, that of empty seats went up. University authorities are now working out ways to eliminate the confusion and ensure a single exam for admission.

The changing expectations of the industry has also led to the falling demand for the course. The industry, says Sridhar, began to ask what was the difference between the undergraduate and postgraduate students, if the former themselves were well qualified to take up jobs. 

The industry also asked what additional value would postgraduate students bring if eligibility criteria for jobs was met by undergraduate students. The industry felt it need not spend extra by hiring postgraduates as undergraduates could be hired at a lower cost. Consequent to this, the number of placement agencies coming to the university dipped. 

The other factor impacting MBA in BU has been the quality of education imparted. A total of 64 colleges affiliated to BU offer MBA. BU officials say that with too many colleges offering MBA, none was sure as to which colleges were good and which were not. Industry representatives felt that many colleges were not up to the mark and they would not consider candidates from such colleges. 

As placements fell, the demand for MBA and the supply of students went down. Industry also felt that many colleges were not industry oriented and therefore, students would not be industry ready. Officials say industry does not undertake placements despite serious effort from BU to convince them to offer placements.

BU’s MBA director reads the rise in empty seats as the course having attained maturity. The demand, which was very good five years ago, was artificial demand. Scores of students would join MBA only because their peers or friends did. But things changed. Students began to look closely at the courses and made the distinction between a mediocre syllabus and a state-of-the-art one. This maturity translated into lower number of applications for BU’s MBA.

The dip in demand for BU’s MBA seats is also related to deemed universities offering their own MBA. Students found the course more qualitative and well recognised. There was movement of students from BU to these private, deemed universities.

“So far, the course has been mass education, not class education. With students becoming a lot more discerning now, the BU course is understandably getting a stable number of students.

 We have plans to add life to the course and we are confident we’ll have a consistent number of students over the next two-three years. Last year’s empty seat count may seem dramatic, but because of the confusion over exams, it may have gone up. When there’s clarity next year, the course will stabilise. The turbulence of the MBA is not a one-year affair. Symptoms were visible much earlier.”

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