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Higher Education 2016-08-26

Franchising in higher education? Why not, says Imperial College Chairman

There is a great scope for management education in India. Unlike any other programs this management education is more relevant for all the students looking for specialisation.

Franchising in higher education? Why not, says Imperial College Chairman

Higher education is a critical catalyst for economic growth, social development and nation building. Globalisation, urbanisation, increasing income levels and aspirations, coupled with growing business complexities, have increased the demand for business managers and hence, management programs. But not many of these higher education institutes take the franchising route.

However, in an interview with Franchise India, Dr. Hari Krishna Maram, Chairman, Founder & CEO, Imperial College, Bengaluru, tells us about the necessity of innovations in the education industry and how franchising can be the future in higher education as well. Here are excerpts from the interview.

How is Imperial College unique?

We at Imperial College believe in nurturing leaders of tomorrow. For this we have to create an opportunity for students to discover themselves by doing what they like and our role is to turn their dreams into reality by mentoring them. In the last 9 years of our journey till date, we have never advertised ourselves in newspapers, never participated in any exhibition because we believe in spending the same money on developing students and providing quality education.

What is your opinion on the quality of education in India?

Today in India we have more than 40,000 colleges, 750 Universities along with institutes of excellence, but still we are unable to be listed in top 100 Global Universities of the World. If you look back at the education system of the world, the roots lie in India with Nalanda, Takshashila, Shanthiniketan, where students from across the world used to come to study when no proper transportation system was available. I strongly feel that in the coming years, India will again become a global destination for Quality Education with the help of the knowledge power we have. Today if you look at the leading global companies, they are headed by Indians, which shows our ability to achieve anything.

Highlight the major challenges faced by you. How did you tackle them?

When we started our journey 9 years back to make a difference in the field of management education in the country with 4000 + B-schools already existing, we felt we will do things differently unlike traditional colleges. We wanted to be on a forefront in this field. We failed some times and learnt the wonderful lessons. Today we have started offering wide range of programs apart from regular programs like online, distance, executive education, certification programs and able to reach all kind of students looking for education.

How has your journey been so far?

After leaving a wonderful job at a leading MNC, Novartis India, I started my journey in academics as this is my passion and today in a short duration we have built a strong brand among academics, corporates, students and all stakeholders’ community with "consistency", delivering more than what we promised. This helped us receive great recognition in India and across the globe.

What is your future road map? Highlight expansions plan, if any.

We believe in reaching large number of students across the world by offering innovative programs. We do not believe in creating campuses by constructing buildings. We felt that the best way is using the most advanced technology available today. Our aim is to reach all smartphones with relevant content. We even plan to venture into local languages. This has high scope as in the coming years 5 billion mobile phones will be existing along with high speed of connectivity. Free wifi connectivity everywhere will provide a great opportunity to achieve the dream.

Why are so many B-schools closing every year and are not able to sustain?

Yes, in the last 5 years more than 500 B-schools have closed. The reason is simple, these people are not focused in using the available opportunities to venture in to revenue generating new programs by using technology. The other reason is that most of these institutes are started as a business and are unable to maintain quality and attract students. Eventually, they see no scope in the business and so do not wait further.

Do you think the Government policies in India are restricting its growth and expansion?

Not really, because those days are gone when we needed everything from Government. Today education industry has become more customer driven. If an institute offers quality education with relevant curriculum having great future prospects, then we are successful. Still, India needs more freedom to do innovations and with Government encouragement and incentives we can do better than what we are now.

Many preschools, secondary schools and coaching institutes have expanded successfully via franchises. What is your opinion on franchising in higher education?

If the great idea can be multiplied through franchising in all fields, why not? This is more relevant in education. It's not easy to build an educational brand as it takes many years of efforts. These efforts will be fruitful if we can expand in multiple locations with like-minded partners offering same quality provided by the mother brand. I strongly feel this is the best way to grow in the field and this will be the future.

How do you see the future of B-school industry in India?

There is a great scope for management education in India. Unlike any other programs this management education is more relevant for all the students looking for specialisation. Management Education develops overall ability of a person and makes them a leader. The Indian job market foresees a growth from $2.2 trillion to double in the next 5 years. This will create more opportunities for management programs with good demand.

The B-school market in India is yet to go a long way. Continuous innovation, dedicated faculty, substantial investment in technology and a strong presence on social media is imperative for any good B-school to sustain. Expanding via route of franchising is also very promising in the future.

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