There are many points to ponder on why Nepali B-schools aren’t able to produce desired human resource.
--BY DWAIPAYAN REGMI
All the major universities in Nepal have been running business courses from the very beginning. Starting with the basic Bachelors in Business Studies (BBS), there are courses like Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA), Bachelors of Business Management (BBM) and other specialised degrees like Bachelors of Hotel Management (BHM), Bachelors of Information Management (BIM), Bachelors of Travel and Tourism Management (BTTM).
These undergraduate courses are followed by Masters level degrees such as Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Masters in Business Studies (MBS), Masters of Business Management (MBM). Nepal has been providing M.Com courses since 1961 and B.Com since 1955.
From among the entire field of available subjects, from Sanskrit to engineering, from the Humanities and Social Sciences to medicine, business has been the most popular subject with 30.53 percent students choosing it in 2012 and 34.22 percent in 2013. Now since this data derived from the Ministry of Education’s portal shows that one thirds of students have chosen to study business, Nepal should have been able to produce efficient managers or entrepreneurs. Now the question here is, how many entrepreneurs have our business institutions been able to actually produce? There might be a handful of names such as, Khaalisisi or Urban Girl. But, what about the others? MBA students abroad nearly always plan to start something on their own, if not immediately, at least within five years, unlike Nepal, where the ultimate aim is to get some kind of job or find an easy way to get a student visa to go abroad.
The basic problem or issue arises from the time of the interview itself. After passing a written test what the interviewers are only concerned about is if the students are able to pay for the two or four year course. What they next look for is the possibility that they might quit the course- either to go study abroad or, in the case of female students, marriage.
Where these business institutions fail is in to encourage the desire in prospective students to create startups, or to become effective managers. The huge focus placed on the business of making a profit from students, rather than the output has been the primary problem of business institutions.
There have been several government affiliated colleges which were supposedly created with the country’s future business in mind. But due to negligence and carelessness, they have generally failed to uplift business education in Nepal. If anyone claims that we have a good education system in Nepal, they then must answer this question– how many foreign teachers have we brought into Nepal for the sake of education in the management sector?
The course structure that our education system has designed itself is a problem. Students spend hours learning the ‘Fundamentals of Marketing’ without even being able to describe what kind of market is around them. Students will learn about the 4 Ps of Kotler- product, price, place, and promotion- but will fail to apply them meaningfully.
For students, promotion is all about advertising. Again, when we look at the financial world, the reason why students opt to specialise in finance is to get a job at a bank. No one will ever explain that those bulky calculations are never used in the banking world.
Again, the saddest part is that, these students who take specialised courses in finance, will again be taking 'Share Market Training', 'Banking Course Training' indicating that the specialised course taught them nothing practical. They won't know the difference between an initial public offering (IPO) and a further public offering (FPO), right shares and bonus shares or how to purchase primary/secondary shares in Nepal- but they will be wearing a graduation hat under ‘finance specialisation’.
They study English, without knowing how to write an email in a professional manner. They can't write a simple proposal or memo. These students then pay a few thousand bucks to make their resume. They study Economics, without being able to calculate per capita income, and interpretation. They have wonderful courses in Business Strategy, which focuses entirely on old theories that do not link with the present.
Business has courses in accountancy- where students should be concerned about getting the answer right. Students now, can't explain a balance sheet, and can't state the status of a company by the balance sheet. Entrepreneurship has been and is a wonderful subject bandied about, but only a few successful stories actually exist. Students have to be motivated to at least try for a start up. There itself our education system fails.
There have been some subjects in human resource management which have failed to show students how management of human resource actually works. Computer courses should be more than just about hardware and software courses. Be it sociology or psychology, operations management or organisational behaviour– students gain nothing else besides theoretical knowledge.
What our education system really fails to promote is an 'Out of the Box' way of thinking and as a result, even if the answers are written from their own understanding, it is never appreciated. The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) has been following the case study mechanism for 50 years.
Harvard has promoted work experience alongside studies. But when we come to our business schools, they don't have any policies about how to teach. Teachers tend to finish up the course in the given time frame, and take the money. Students want to obtain a good grade by any means, and take away the degree. There barely seems to be any thirst for knowledge in between. Teaching is entirely based on a syllabus, and assignments without objectives are given to students, adding nothing more. Every assignment should have some objective at least, and the student should also get to know why they are assigned it.
The education system could also be the reason why organisations within Nepal don't trust students, compelling students to take separate examination as a primary phase for hiring. Had our business schools been credit worthy enough, these entrance level exams would never be needed. It’s also a good idea to conduct quizzes and games alongside the normal courses. But when it comes to business, where are the stock games? Advertisement competitions? Entrepreneurship games? How often does a university organise a case study competition? A business quiz? There are internship programmes but they are more of an endurance test than a learning experience for students.
There are barely any organisations out there that welcome students with open arms with the intention of just teaching them. A few years ago, one institution had an innovative idea where BBA students put down a business proposal and were handed a sum of Rs 5000. While some made a profit more than others, it was more about the learning experience, showing how the real business world would be like.
Business education fees hike up every year, but why can’t schools put aside one thousand rupees for such practical exercises? The institution never resumed it after the first year.
There are institutions too that take up to one hundred thousand extra and let the students invest. I studied at an institute, where, during my BBA, we were left in a messed up situation. We had to work in a team, manage everything, from funds to travel, just so that we could pay less from our own pocket. At least, the basic idea of management was taught from a practical aspect.
It is not necessary for business schools to produce large numbers of entrepreneurs; but at least they should be able to produce good managers as well. Business education should at least create good managers, good employees, strong leaders if not entrepreneurs.
Regmi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @dwaipon