Indian Higher Education Is Currently Lagging Significantly Behind Global Standards

Founder and Director of ISBF (Indian School of Business & Finance), Dr.Jitin Chadha speaks to BW Education in an exclusive interview

Dr.Jitin Chadha, ISBF

Q. Does the LSE collaboration help ISBF building its brand and reputation?

ISBF’s collaboration with The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) runs very deep. All of our undergraduate as well as graduate programmes – receive complete academic direction from LSE. This means that LSE academicians design the programme structure, course content, and syllabi, train our faculty members, visit campus for lectures, and most importantly, set and grade the degree examinations of the students. This close collaboration undoubtedly helps bolster ISBF’s own brand and reputation. It is also what puts these programmes in a league of their own, as they represent a world-class education right here in India. LSE has about 70 Teaching Institutions in the world for these programmes; ISBF is ranked among the top four and recognized as a Featured Teaching Institution. To have an institution which is ranked second in the world for the social sciences repose their trust in us and recognize the academic excellence that ISBF has come to stand for is a huge shot in the arm for our self-belief as well as our reputation. 

Q. ISBF’s collaboration with renowned foreign academic institutions- does that help giving solutions to the Indian local problems also?

Absolutely, the ISBF-LSE collaboration helps solve local problems in many different ways. First, since it takes the form of LSE’s programmes being offered here in India, it creates several direct and indirect employment opportunities. Second, and perhaps more importantly, ISBF’s faculty members, and through them, our students, undergo world-class training and capacity building at the hands of LSE academicians. One can think of this as an import of international best practices in teaching and learning, or as a foreign intellectual investment in India. Third, exposure to an international education gives our students the ability to apply what they have learned – this makes them job-market ready and helps tackle the rampant employability problem faced by India. Last, but not least, having studied one of the best curricula in the world, our students are well equipped to apply their knowledge of economics, finance and management to address pressing economic, business, social and political issues in India, or even elsewhere for that matter, since the foundations and contours of such issues tend to be similar across the world.

Q. At a time, when Global rankings are dominating the educational institutions, does ISBF wish to be a part of this ranking framework?

Let us acknowledge at the outset that rankings must always be considered in the particular context for which they are intended, so I would think of them as a guide rather than as a dominating influence. As things stand, among the key components of global rankings in the education world are the curriculum taught at an institution, and the quality of research there, which in turn feeds into the quality of the curriculum. At ISBF, the curriculum we teach comes entirely from LSE, and is set, updated, examined and graded by their academicians, many of whom are Nobel Laureates or pioneering researchers in their respective fields. This is what makes it among the top-ranked curricula in the world for Economics, Finance, and Management. Since we don’t play a direct part in this important aspect of the current ranking system, I’m not sure how we could be part of this framework. Having said that, if there is a ranking system out there which looks only at delivery, as measured by faculty qualifications, quality of teaching, teaching-learning infrastructure and similar parameters, we would love to be part of such a ranking framework, since all of these aspects of the ISBF-LSE education are the responsibility of ISBF.

Q. What help does ISBF provide its students in terms of placements?

In terms of academic placements, ISBF faculty members support students with advice, guidance on writing their Statements of Purpose, and by supplying Letters of Recommendation on request. Given these inputs and their high-quality academic base, students have secured transfers into the second year at leading universities such as LSE, including on scholarship. They have also gone on to Master’s programmes from prestigious institutions like Harvard, Oxford, LSE, Yale, London Business School (LBS) and many others outside India, and to Delhi School of Economics (DSE), Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indian School of Business (ISB) and several others within the country.

In terms of job placements, we understand that in a highly competitive employment landscape with numerous talented candidates vying for the same few coveted spots, being recruited by a reputed firm is challenging. We, therefore, have a dedicated Career Services Division (CSD) helping students successfully navigate this challenge. CSD organises regular workshops on aptitude tests, group discussions, interviews, personality development and MS Excel. Students also have the opportunity to engage with industry leaders at various guest lectures, seminars and industry visits organized by CSD. All of this helps them develop into consummate professionals recruited by employers like Ernst & Young, Citibank, KPMG, Pepsico, McKinsey & Company, Deutsche Bank, S&P Capital IQ, American Express, Zomato and Centre of WTO Studies in exciting roles such as investment banking research, consulting, marketing, operations, human resource, business analytics and financial analysis, to name a few.

Q. What is your vision for ISBF in years to come?

When ISBF was set up in 2006, the vision was to deliver a world‐class education in India. We have come a long way with that. Today, the peerless LSE curriculum is taught by a highly qualified and committed faculty through a stimulating pedagogy in a vibrant teaching-learning environment, with LSE recognizing us as one of its Featured Teaching Institutions. 

In years to come, we would like to achieve the next stage of this vision, which is to raise the level of Indian higher education to international standards, in terms of curriculum, syllabus, teaching and learning outcomes. Indian higher education is currently lagging significantly behind global standards in all these aspects, and our collaboration with LSE gives us a natural edge in bringing such standards to India, building local intellectual capacity and widening local access to a high-quality education. 

To achieve and sustain this vision, we are investing heavily in the capacity building of our faculty members, who either are or will be pursuing a postgraduate programme in teaching and learning in higher education from the University of London. This will help acquaint them with contemporary teaching best practices, learn from peers and educators from across the globe and raise the level of delivery here at ISBF and in India. In turn, this will further the goal of producing graduates of a very high pedigree who will apply their learnings and compete and collaborate with the best talent from around the world to solve pressing local and global problems.

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