Biswas is not alone. A lot of Indian business students pore over websites, attend MBA fairs and so on in order to find a business school abroad best suited to their pockets and to their needs. And the method of teaching in foreign universities, a blend of classroom learning and practical to-do dissertations, seems to go down well with many students. “You can say, management teaching is more hands-on there,” says Biswas.
But what is it that makes students and ambitious corporate executives flit across the globe to further their careers when India has a host of good business schools from the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to the Indian School of Business?
According to the TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2011, under 15% of MBA applicants choose which country to study their MBA in because it is, or it’s near the country they currently work in. This holds true for Indians as well.
So what are the benefits of getting an MBA abroad as opposed to studying in the crème de la crème of India's business schools?
Says Bikram Dasgupta, chairman and CEO of Globsyn Group that has the Globsyn Business School under its aegis, “There are two kinds of students who go abroad for higher education. The first are the real good students who want to excel, and want to mix with a heterogeneous global community to reach their goals.”
“The second,” says Dasgupta “is the larger lot, who go purely for international exposure and because they can afford it. A foreign degree and living abroad is the differentiator in their lives.”
As the Indian middle class expands and gets richer, a lot more parents are sending their children abroad in search of better opportunities. Take Biswas who says that he could afford the cost apart from which he got the chance to broaden his network with people from various cultures.
“There were a hundred students from various countries in my class. It gave me an insight into their lives. I also developed contacts which I am sure will help me in the future.” Now back in India, Biswas has several good job opportunities that he is considering.
Does this then mean that a foreign education is the only option of getting a high powered job?
“Well, it all depends,’’ says Prashant Mishra, chairperson of the postgraduate program at IIM Calcutta. “An MBA in India from a reputed institution is good enough to put a student’s career on the fast track.”
Top-notch business schools like the IIMs, and the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) not only provide excellent education but also good placements. However, getting into one of these institutions can be difficult as the entrance exams are tough.
Harsh Neotia, managing director at Bengal Ambuja Housing Development Limited, explains that: “not everyone can be accommodated in the top-ranking business schools. So those who can afford to, fly the coop.”
But for Indian applicants, an MBA program abroad may not necessarily be better.
“Unless you are gunning for the top 20 in the world, an MBA from an Indian institute [can often be] better,” explains Professor Anindya Sen, professor of economics at IIM Calcutta. And when it comes to the core management education content, there is really not much of a difference between what is imparted in India and what is taught at an international business school says Dasgupta.
“The point of difference emerges in the methods and tools used to impart management education. While institutions like Harvard Business School have championed the cause of case-based management education, something which is also followed by institutions like IIM Ahmedabad, others have chosen to follow distinctly different routes, which finally dictate how successful they are,” explains Dasgupta.
Some like Globsyn Business School follow a learner centric pedagogy which is a mix of both vertical learning (teacher to student) and horizontal learning (peer-to-peer to mentor) modes to give students a differential learning experience.
Anupam Ray, associate director of KPMG agrees, “the real difference in content is in the case management studies.
“In India, obviously the content is more India-centric and focuses on micro-issues concerning India. And multi-national companies that operate in India prefer students who have studied in the eastern region [of the world].”
Studying at an international business school is also expensive as Ipsita Chatterjee, a student of the Globsyn Business School explains, “my parents could not afford to send me to a foreign university but I do not think I have missed out a lot.
“After all, we have tie-ups with several foreign universities. Lecturers from those universities visit our campus and conduct classes.”
Still, many students like Abhishek Sur, who is applying to various top-ranking colleges like the Kellogg School of Management, observe that an opportunity to study abroad definitely gives students that extra edge.
“I have a BTech degree. If I can get an MBA from a world renowned business school, my career will get that much-needed push. An MBA from a foreign university will definitely expand my network and hone my presentation skills,” explains Sur.
But to be able to maximize your return on investment, you need to do a lot of planning in advance. In the case of Indian MBA students, “if your focus is Asia, India is where you should do your MBA. That’s because companies that operate in the region prefer an MBA from here as well,” says Ray explaining that students who opt to study in neighboring countries do so simply because ‘business cultures’ are not that varied.
Ultimately there are advantages on either side. For students who prefer to be part of the India growth story, an MBA from a reputed school in India is definitely a better option.
However the opportunity to study abroad is certainly something that all students should consider. The benefits are both significant and tangible. So, whether it’s to gain entry into a specific market or learn a new language, studying abroad definitely enhances your career and professional future.
For those interested in the opportunities that an MBA can bring, either at a domestic or international business school, QS organizes several kinds of events that visit cities throughout the world, including several destinations in India. For more information, visit TopMBA.com's MBA events homepage >