As India sets its sights on becoming the world’s third-largest economy by 2030, B-schools can proudly claim a part of this success. The MBA qualification is the most preferred credential among CEOs of India’s Top 500 companies and B-schools contribute significantly to the national agenda by creating talent for 250,000 white-collar jobs each year.

However, IIMs and elite B-schools like XLRI Jamshedpur and MDI Gurgaon stand at a crucial junction today.

To prepare students for a technology-driven and rapidly-changing world, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 notes: “The main thrust… is to end the fragmentation of higher education by transforming higher education institutions into large multidisciplinary universities, colleges, and HEI clusters/knowledge hubs, each of which will aim to have 3,000 or more students.” This recommendation has direct implications for 11,200 stand-alone institutions, including the IIMs and Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) B-schools.

According to AICTE, there were 3,114 MBA and equivalent programmes in India — the highest in the world. Prominent types of institutions are: IIMs and IITs’ MBA departments, public and private university B-schools, and private B-schools offering AICTE approved PGDM such as XLRI and MDI. Although they account for just 10 per cent of the total number of MBA seats, more than 50 per cent of the Top 200 B-schools in India offer PGDM programmes.

NEP recommends that stand-alone institutions follow one of the three pathways: become a multidisciplinary university, or an autonomous degree granting college (AC), or a higher education institution (HEI) cluster. However, B-schools face significant challenges in pursuing any of these pathways.

Pathway 1: Transform into “multi-disciplinary university”: To meet these norms, they will have to offer at least four new academic programmes apart from the MBA/PGDM programme. They will also have to scale up significantly by enrolling 3,000 students. Only a handful of top B-schools can meet the current regulatory requirements.

Pathway 2: Become an “autonomous degree-granting college”: Most of the 300-odd PGDM B-schools can aspire to become ACs. However, they too will have to offer at least four new academic programmes apart from the MBA/PGDM programme. There is also a regulatory hurdle: how can diploma-granting institutions become degree-granting institutions?

Pathway 3: Form an HEI cluster: Those B-schools which do not wish to pursue the above pathways should partner with an HEI cluster. However, such integration poses formidable challenges.


To facilitate the journey of stand-alone B-schools to meet the NEP 2020 requirements, policymakers and B-schools should consider the following recommendations:

Recognise management institutions in the Distinct Institution category for university status: To transform into universities, B-schools should be considered eligible under the ‘Distinct Institution’ category in the newly announced UGC (Institutions deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2023. This forward-looking regulation promises to relax eligibility rules for those institutions that “focus on teaching or research in the unique disciplines or addressing the strategic needs of the country”, or “dedicated to skill development”, or “as so determined by the Expert Committee.” Going by this definition, the PGDM B-schools should qualify to become a university as a ‘Distinct Institution’.

Establish the Indian Management & Skill University: It is recommended that AICTE establish/sponsor/facilitate Indian Management & Skill University (IMSU) with all PGDM institutions as constituent degree-granting institutions. IMSU should be promoted by AICTE, with support from the Ministry of Education. All PGDM B-schools can come under the purview of ISMU. Upon meeting requirements, the majority of PGDM B-schools can be classified as ACs.

Allow PGDM institution to offer UG Diploma in Management programme: To meet the student enrolment requirements, PGDM B-schools should be allowed to offer UG Management programmes like the IIMs. AICTE already permits UG diplomas in other areas like hotel management. Similarly, PGDM B-schools should be allowed to introduce UG management programmes. A recent decision by AICTE to regulate BBA programmes as well is a positive step in this direction.

Multi-campus, executive and digital education considered in size estimations: NEP 2020 recommends student size of 3,000 or more. To meet these numbers, participants pursuing management programmes at different campuses of the same institution, or enrolled through online/hybrid modes in India or abroad should be accounted for.

Alongside, B-schools must develop strategic plans to offer multi-disciplinary programmes to a larger student body. They must study successful models like that of Singapore Management University, which has evolved from offering just a BBA programme in 2000 into a multi-disciplinary world-class university.

India today is blessed with proactive policymakers, who are facilitators and not regulators. As B-schools stand at a crossroads, the Education Policy must evolve to save these institutions that have powered economic and entrepreneurial growth in India for the last many decades, and that can play a vital role in fulfilling Prime Minister’s Vision 2047.

The writer is Founder, Indian Management Conclave and