Why IIMs want student diversity
MIX N MATCH Encouraging students from other backgrounds, besides engineering, will help break homogeneity at Indian Institutes of Management, say experts
Engineers have dominated the classrooms at Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for several years. Now, the focus is shifting towards boosting academic and gender diversity by altering intake rules. According to officials at several IIMs, getting candidates from areas other than engineering is must for breaking the homogeneity on campus. They also say that since the pedagogy involves discussion-based methods, it is a strong reason to boost academic diversity as students with different perspectives will make learning more inclusive. Besides engineers, most candidates are from commerce, arts, medicine/dentistry, pharmacy/pharmacology etc. NON-ENGINEERS ON THE RISE Take I I M Ahmedabad, f or instance. Non-engineering students in the PGP batch have gone up from 5% in 2011 to 20% this year. While there were 20 nonengineers in the 2011-13 batch, the 2016-18 batch comprises 80 nonengineers. At IIM Bangalore, the 2016-18 batch includes 11% nonengineers, while the 2015-17 batch has more than 13% students who are not engineers. At IIM Trichy, non-engineers consist of 24% of the batch for the first year and 7% for the final year. IIM Kozhikode has 10.5% non-engineers for the PGP batch admitted in 2016. Nontechies at IIM Ranchi have also gone up. While these were more than11% of the 2014-16 PGPbatch, this increased to 17% in the 201618 batch. WHY PROMOTE DIVERSITY According to Prof Anindya Sen, director in- charge, IIM Ranchi, “Engineers tend to think that there are always precise, mechanical solutions to all problems. However, management problems which usually have to do with human beings, need a more flexible approach. Moreover, male students sometimes lack in certain soft qualities which are essential for a harmonious workplace. Hence the need for diversification - with respect to both academic diversity and gender diversity.” Citing an example of IIM Kozhikode, Prof Sony Thomas, chairperson (admissions), says, “The instiinsti tute has been making deliberate efforts to ensure diversity in the classroom both academic and gender. We give 5% weightage to both non-engineering students as well as women candidates. However, a student will not get both. For example, a non-engineering woman applicant will get only 5% weightage. Similarly, a non-engineering male applicant will also get 5% weightage. Actually, it is a balancing act, since major proportion of female applicants are engineers too. For the PGP batch 2016, 89.5% are engineers and 26% are women.”
IIM Ahmedabad endeavours to recognise exceptional performers in terms of their previous academic records, co-curricular and extra-curricular achievements, work experience, as well as their performance in CAT across diverse academic backgrounds. “In a discussion-based learning environment, such as that of IIMA, diversity of participants’ back- groundsgrounds and inclusivity of the institution’s culture contribute significantly to a positive learning environment. Putting weight on the factors beyond performance in CAT helps the institute have a more diverse and inclusive student pool,” says a spokesperson from the PGP admissions committee.
This need for diversity is also felt by the newer IIMs. As Prof Abhishek Totawar, chairperson placement and external relations, IIM Trichy, says, “Diversity, whether academic or gender, is important for management education. This is because most subjects are taught using the case study method, for which students from different academic backgrounds are preferred. Besides engineers who have a good background in quantitative analysis, we have non-engineers too with a strong command over quant.”