Nina Varghese

Chennai, July 20

A management degree today is what a bachelor's degree was some 15 years ago, says Mr Pankaj Aggarwal, Head, Marketing, DirecWay Global Education, a satellite-based education and training service from Hughes Escorts Communications Ltd.

An MBA degree has become a must now with hundreds of students writing the common admission test (CAT) for admission into premium institutions. Those who don't make the grade look for other options.

This trend has resulted in management institutes mushrooming all over the country. Mr Aggarwal says, according to an in-house study, the Indian management education market is valued at $ 2.15 billion.

There are some 1,700 business schools in the country with more than one lakh students.

Though there are islands of excellence, management education is an ocean of mediocrity, says Mr Aggarwal. Most institutes operate out of small rooms, with poor quality faculty, and do not help with placements. The worst part is that qualifications from such institutes are not recognised by the industry, he says.

Mr Aggarwal says DirecWay is a response to this situation. It offers an onsite interactive learning service, which leverages on technology to harness the advantages of conventional education and serve a large student base across the country.

Direcway started in 2002 with 20 students and has over 4,000 students now, he says.

It has tied up with the premium institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Management, Xavier's Labour Relations Institute, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. There are several programmes on offer from various institutes, and admissions are open to working professionals, self-employed and graduates from all streams. These institutes design the entire course curriculum and study material. They also control the selection procedure and the certification.

Mr Aggarwal says education from the country's top institutions is brought directly to students in the metros, the mini metros and the small towns through interactive learning systems and technology. The faculty member conducts the lecture in a studio, while the students are across 48 classrooms in 32 cities. The classrooms are linked up via satellite, ensuring student-teacher interaction.

The cost of the programmes ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.

DirecWay has set up a placement cell for students, says Mr Aggarwal.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 21, 2005)
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