Dr. Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS Deemed-to-be University, Vile Parle, talks about the acquisition of NMAT by the Graduate Management Admission Council of America, and the future of management education.

Recently, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), USA, which conducts the popular Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), acquired the NMAT test conducted by NMIMS Deemed to be University for admission to management programmes at NMIMS School of Management. Now, the test (currently going on) is being offered as NMAT by GMAC. Dr. Rajan Saxena, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS Deemed-to-be University, Vile Parle, talks to Knowledge about the reasons for the acquisitions and the increase in the opportunities for the students due to it.

What is the idea behind this acquisition?

We had been offering successfully offering the NMAT for the last five years, and it was not only student-friendly but also had all the features that GMAC was offering. But we realised also, that after having conducted successfully NMAT for the last five years, and after having grown in the number of applications also over the last five years, there is also in terms of student satisfaction with the test, we felt that there is a need now to go global. That is one of the biggest reasons why we decided on moving in this direction. We also realised that to go global we will have to invest a substantial amount of money, in not just merely conducting the test, but even on terms of development of the test and the technology. Looking at all this, we felt that this is a time to look beyond the country for global expertise. Also, we wanted to explore other geographies to offer the test. And we could not do it by ourselves because that would have meant me having to invest in technology, test centres and other logistics.

What is the impact of globalisation today on education?

n One of the important facets of globalisation, of an institution today is that if you are able to globalise your processes that will enable you to bring in people from the world market into your campuses. Not only that, you will be able to export your thought processes and ideas to the world market. So it was with that kind of perspective, one process that we need to globalise is our admission process. So with that kind of a perspective, we though who better than GMAC who are world leaders, and the only agency who has successfully conducted management admission tests are about eight decades.

What impact will NMAT by GMAC will have on students who are going to apply to NMIMS?

Well, the students who would be applying will have more windows of opportunities. Until now, the test score was only for NMIMS. Today, about 12 other universities and institutes also consider these scores. Over a period of time, this number would grow. The perspective is to really make NMAT by GMAC as ‘the test’ in India and South Asia for admission to management programmes. With that, for applying students, the doors to many schools will open up. Secondly, as the test gets accepted in different geographies, the Indian students will have an opportunity to apply to business schools in other countries who would be accepting NMAT by GMAC.  This is a major benefit for the students. Cost-wise, it is very effective for students compared to other tests.

Any student who wishes to study NMIMS, would he or she have to apply to NMIMS separately over and above appearing for NMAT by GMAC?

Yes, that’s the process. The application for the test and the application for the management programme are two distinctly different processes. By merely applying to the test, you do not ensure application to the university. In a way, it is in the interest of the student to ensure that he or she applies to both.

What’s the plan going forward with the NMAT by GMAC?

To make this ‘the test’ and trying to get in more business schools accepting this test. Outside the country, we hope that this test takes off and sets benchmarks that have not been set before, since such a test would not have been administered there before. Within India, we hope that it comes at par with the CAT. That is not to say that the GMAT will not be available, but in cost-sensitive regions, this test might prove to be more polular.

Why has GMAC come to India?

There are two reasons. First is the opportunities that exist here – the demographic advantage that the country has to offer makes it one of the most attractive destinations for education institutions and all the service providers and other allied courses that are contributing to the education industry, which includes the testing services as well. India contributes fairly substantial numbers even to the GMAT offered by GMAC, so it was an obvious choice. If you look at the number of students going abroad from India, that is a huge number.

The second reason is that GMAT by itself is a very expensive test. They wanted to have another test which costs lesser, but had the same features and quality which GMAT is offering worldwide. NMAT was found as a very competitive test with the same philosophy and same values. The two institutions also shared the same dream.

What aspect needs to be looked into in management education for the future?

If you look at any of the admission tests as well as management education today, one of the most important requirements is that of diversity – diversity in the class. Increasingly over a period of time I have seen, that the diversity in the MBA class in much reduced. In the context of India, the largest number of students in the class consists of engineers. The number of girls in the programme is limited to a maximum of 18 to 19%. This is because the pool has not been large of girls take the management admission test.

Fortunately in the context of NMIMS, this diversity was not a problem. We had the gender diversity, we already had a higher percentage of women students, but this year onwards we have made a conscious decision of keeping 30% seats for women. We also had students coming on from all kinds of fields from engineering to social sciences and humanities to medical sciences. With work experiences also we had a great diversity. We had students from all over the country – so the geographical diversity was there.

Given all these facts, clearly, the future lies in increasing this diversity. And today there is a need to not just bring in a geographical diversity within this country, but also bring the world into it. To be able to do that, truly speaking, we should have a multi-ethnic kind of a test. When this aspect comes into the classroom, I believe that the value of a discussion in the classroom goes up drastically both just for the student but also the teacher.

What is it that will define the future teacher?

For globalisation, it is also necessary to create a global identity for our schools and the university. For that, we will want to look at global accreditations. The faculty scholarship at the global level also needs to be looked into – that the work of our faculty is visible globally. We are encouraging our faculty to publish in renowned journals and also to file for patents in the world market. At the same time, we are discussing with a top foreign university to partner with us for faculty competency development, faculty scholarship level and at the same time in terms of globalising our academic and examination and research process. I do hope that as time goes by, that in the next 10 years, NMIMS as a university is a globally admired and appreciated university respected for its innovation, its faculty scholarship and the contribution that the students make to the society.