The Appeal of the Online MBA in India |

The Appeal of the Online MBA in India

By QS Contributor

Updated July 19, 2014 Updated July 19, 2014

The internet has given a new lease of life to the MBA program in India. With the Indian economy evolving into a knowledge based one, lifelong learning is now an imperative.

There has been an increase in the number of homes gaining online access. Advances in satellite technology, the internet and global education have prepared the ground for a distance learning revolution in the country.

Companies with global aspirations now prefer that their employees keep themselves updated on the latest trends and management technologies without having to leave their desks. In such a scenario, earning an online MBA degree is a cost-effective career move for students, working professionals as well as those seeking a career change.

According to a report by brokerage firm CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, India's distance learning market is expected to grow from the current US$27 million to US$280 million by 2012. The market for online tutoring worldwide is estimated to be in the region of US$12 billion.

In the light of these estimates, it is not surprizing that India's online MBA programs have witnessed a significant increase in the number of domestic and foreign participants. Domestic institutes such as Amity University, Symbiosis, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Institute of Management Technology, Sikkim Manipal University and Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies now vie for virtual space with international online providers such as U21 Global and the University of Phoenix.

The online MBA market in India consists of two segments: corporate training and retail education.

Corporate training

Organizations view training and employee development as amongst the most important contributing factors for survival and business excellence in the market place. India's corporate learning market is, however, highly fragmented and diffused. The good news is that most Indian corporate houses are waking up to the need for comprehensive education solutions in the corporate training domain.

Large companies recruit between 3,000 to 5,000 people annually and do not have the capacity, infrastructure or staff to train them. For example, Indian companies such as information technology giants Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro do not have adequate time and infrastructure to take care of their training needs.

Nick Hutton, CEO of U21 Global, the online varsity promoted by a consortium of international universities, says "Online management education providers… aim to address this need for corporate training through a set of comprehensive education modules delivered to corporations by combining the internet and global faculty."

Retail education

India's higher education system may be the world's third largest with more than 13 million students, but the country educates only around 12% of the student population.

In the sphere of management education, a mere 150,000 out of the estimated 500,000 applicants gain admission into the 2,000 recognized business schools.

Online degrees provide cost-effective access to education. Not only that, online MBA programs offered by foreign universities are a big draw in India. These allow Indian students to secure an international qualification without traveling abroad. Students in remote towns and perhaps even villages are able to access programs and attend lectures of eminent faculty delivered over the internet or via satellite technology.

Hutton notes "The current higher education model suffers from inherent rigidities, which prevents supply from increasing. Apart from infrastructure constraints on brick and mortar campuses, a critical limitation is non-availability of quality faculty.

"The online MBA program model can take care of both problems by distributing the campus to where the demand exists and utilizing the lectures of the best global faculty by introducing portability and scalability through technology."

Manoj Sharma, deputy director for e-learning programs and the Pan African e-Network Project, Amity Center for e-Learning (ACeL) says "E-learning is, by far, the most effective, economical, and viable mode of education dissemination across the globe. Physical infrastructure is not actually established yet prospective but deprived learners have access to world class education from wherever they are at a reasonable cost."

The Amity Center for e-learning, promoted by private education conglomerate Amity University offers two online MBA programs and various management modules.

Corporate partnerships

With Indian companies investing heavily on education and training for their workforce, corporate partnerships with online training providers are the order of the day.

24x7 Learning Pvt Ltd, an e-learning implementation company in India, offers an online MBA in collaboration with industry partners such as media companies CNN-IBN and CNBC TV 18.  Karthik KS, CEO of 24x7 Learning Pvt Ltd says "The problem with many online MBA programs offered in India is that the course content does not reflect industry requirements."

According to Perspective 2020, a study by the industry body Nasscom (The National Association of Software and Services Companies), Indian industry is facing a shortage of employable talent and companies are hiring people who lack skills, but are trainable.

Karthik says "By partnering with industry, we have tried to make sure that our online MBA programs are relevant and provide the right skills. Our academic and industry partners help design the curriculum content and offer internships and placement opportunities to students."

With the right combination of industry-relevant content, top faculty and sophisticated learning technologies, the online MBA program could help avert the country's skills crisis while helping corporations retain their competitive edge in the global marketplace.

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This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in July 2014

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