IIM-A gets ₹190-cr funding for research, infra

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on January 16, 2018

Ashish Nanda, Director, IIM-A

Deploying it effectively is a challenge, says Director Ashish Nanda

IIM-A, the country’s top B-school, is on overdrive to raise funds for student life, research and infrastructure. By all accounts, its efforts are paying off as in the past three years it has received total commitments of close to ₹190 crore, which is greater than what was raised from private sources cumulatively in the past 50 years.

Funds for Chairs

“People have been willing to contribute once we acknowledge their contributions publicly and provide them an accounting of how their contributions are being spent,” said Director Ashish Nanda in an interview to BusinessLine.

One challenge is raising funds, the other lies in effectively deploying them. “We raised funds for 15 Chairs but then we have to ensure the Chairs are assumed by internal or external individuals who various stakeholders feel are eminently qualified. Finding people who are highly qualified and are willing and able to grace those Chairs is not easy at all. After almost a year-and-a-half of intense effort, we have been able to fill only four of them. We are continuing our efforts,” Nanda said.

IIMA has also been raising money from its alumni, many of whom have excelled in corporate life. “Our alumni have contributed individually, or through their organisations, to all three initiatives of supporting research, student life, and infrastructure. I would point particularly to our alumni’s growing contributions to the extremely challenging and important project of conservation and restoration of our heritage buildings,” Nanda said.

IIM-A’s iconic red brick buildings, designed by American architect Louis Kahn, needs restoration as they are over 50 years old and suffered grievously from the earthquake of 2001.

New IIMs

Commenting on the six new IIMs being added and its impact on the IIM brand, Nanda said, “For a country with a growing economy and young demography, there is tremendous need for high quality institutions of higher learning. But, the question is whether capacity should be added exclusively by building new institutions or whether we should also look at scaling up existing institutions. Building a new institution is challenging. The easier part is getting land and erecting the buildings. Academic institutions are much more than physical infrastructure. The challenging part is building a vibrant educational environment with good faculty, eager students, and an atmosphere of learning. You cannot compress time beyond a point to achieve quality.”

Nanda said academic institutions require a minimum scale to be vibrant. “Even at IIMA, we are sub-scale. Our student population is close to 1,000 full-time students and the faculty strength is just under 100. Take Harvard or Wharton, where full-time student strength is over 2,000 and faculty is over 200. Their greater scale brings efficiencies and benefits. Administrative fixed costs are distributed over larger size, making per student burden smaller. Faculty size is larger, allowing faculty members to bounce ideas off, and collaborate with, colleagues in their area of specialisation,” he said.

Nanda lamented that over the past few years, while the government has invested heavily in new IIMs, the established ones such as IIM-A, B and C, haven’t received any funding for expansion.

“My concern is that in our haste to grow capacity, primarily by establishing new institutions, the nation should not end up with a number of sub-scale institutions,” he said.

Published on December 15, 2016

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