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Dr Aroon Tikekar IIPM : Profit instead of ethics
 By Bärbel Schwertfeger

The case of the questionable Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) is a lesson about the failures of the media and business schools. It is not only about clarification, responsibilities and ethics – it is about profit. The interests of potential MBA students get left by the wayside.

In July last year MBA Channel reported on the questionable practices of IIPM. The Indian business school falsely advertised a cooperation with reputable business schools. Due to the lack in official accreditations even in India, IIPM college graduates received their MBA from another unrecognized institution, but in Belgium. Clearly, this important details is not mentioned at all and the rude awakening comes for a lot of students after they have already invested into the alleged ‘top-degree’.

MBA Channel had been watching IIPM since 2007. When the Indian magazine Careers360 published a critical report in June, we also dug a bit deeper. It turns out, that even the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) promoted the questionable school: As part of the program "Passage to India" the DAAD supported a program of IIPM with a German university with 80,000 euros. When a critical media coverage was no longer avoidable, the program was stopped.

Advertisement from January 2010, The HinduIn January a full-page ad in the Indian newspaper The Hindu was again promoting the cooperation with the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley, Judge Business School at Cambridge University and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. "Leading to a Global Management Certification from world's top ranked b-schools" was written above and below the schools’ logos. The certificate is available for the program Global Opportunities & Threat Analysis (GOTA)

Upon request, the Judge Business School, said that cooperation was terminated and that IIPM had already been warned to stop using the name and logo of Judge Business School. The declaration reads:
Cambridge Judge Business School was contracted, as a provider of executive education services, to deliver a 10-week executive education program for IIPM from July - October 2009. There were no university awarded qualifications from Cambridge University or Cambridge Judge Business School. The only certificate was a certificate of attendance which is what Cambridge Judge Business School provides to participants on all its programs. Following the completion of this contract, the school no longer has a contractual relationship with IIPM and will not be entering into a contract to deliver any further programs for IIPM.

The School formally wrote to IIPM at the start of 2010 to request that IIPM removes with immediate and permanent effect, any reference to the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Judge Business School or Cambridge Executive Education from all forms of marketing communications issued by IIPM, whether internal or external, including their own website and publications, advertising and articles in the media. Cambridge Judge Business School reiterated in this letter that it did not give IIPM permission for the previous working relationship to be represented as a partnership or for Cambridge Judge Business School to be referred to as a Partner Business School.
The School did not give any consent for the Cambridge Executive Education or the Cambridge Judge Business School logos to be used under any circumstance.

The Haas School of Business, however, continues their cooperation with IIPM. Haas states, that the school is in the second year of a three-year contract and delivers a five-day-program per year in marketing and financial analysis.

However, Haas has asked the IIPM to remove the logo of the Center for Executive Education (CEE), which the IIPM also uses on its website for the GOTA program. "CEE said it does not participate in the GOTA program and has asked IIPM to remove our logo or any mention of CEE from any promotional materials concerning this program," wrote the school.

IIPM Website, 1 March 2010Darden School of Business does not share the concerns: “We provide IIPM with a series of week-long Executive Education programs (i.e. a contracted teaching arrangement).  Along with Cambridge (Judge) and UC Berkeley (Haas), we will host their program participants and deliver to them a high-quality mix of general business class sessions. Darden does not have a partnership agreement with IIPM. No course credits at Darden or the University of Virginia are associated with this program.”

The case of IIPM is a lesson for several reasons. First and foremost it is a glaring example of the failure of the Indian media. With the exception of the small magazine Careers360 there has been no other critical coverage by any of the major media outlets. That is, because IIPM is one of the largest advertisers in the field of business schools. Critical information for the readers is simply less important. Even after Careers360 published the story, - according to the editor - no other media seized on the issue. Although India is rightly proud of its freedom of the press.

However, in Germany it is not much better. Here too, none of the renowned media would have reported on the IIPM. A comparable case is of a Swiss business school which bought the silence of even the most prestigious media with their expensive ads for years.

The case is also an example of the failure of business schools. For a handful of dollars, they cooperate despite knowing better, with dubious schools. It is not just about the money that the schools earn through their association with other institutions.. The use of logos and names of reputable schools is almost vital for the IIPM to provide proof of their supposed reputation and gain new students. Anyone who knowingly supports this, is neither ethical nor responsible.

The interview with Mahesh Sarma, the editor of Careers360, gives a shocking insight into the business with the MBA and how it works - not only in India.


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