Chicago Booth Slow to Open Campus in India
Many imagine India as the new frontier. With a democratically elected government, coupled with a robust tech sector, it is seemingly the perfect place to launch a venture. Sure, you have overlapping bureaucracies, endemic corruption, and nominal legal safeguards, but those were once hallmarks of American democracy too. And those blemishes are far outweighed by hundreds of thousands of highly ambitious, educated, English-speaking businesspeople itching to leave their mark.
The Indian government is looking to capitalize on their flourishing business community too. Last year, they cut the red tape that hindered foreign universities from opening campuses in India. Instead of watching their best and brightest flock to overseas institutions, they intended to bring those schools to India. However, many top business schools, such as Harvard Business School and Cambridge’s Judge Business School, have (so far) resisted such entreaties.
However, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is cautiously dipping its toe into India’s business education scene. Its parent university has opened an academic center in Delhi to foster scholarship and collaboration between educators and students from the two countries. It is the University of Chicago’s third such venture, having inaugurated centers in Paris and Beijing within the past decade. And Booth itself launched an MBA program in Hong Kong recently.
Despite this commitment, Booth is dragging its feet on introducing a similar program in India. Sunil Kumar, dean of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, notes that this delay stems from the opaque entanglements that bedevil India’s civil service. “Given the restrictions in India on movement of fund and curriculum independence, the best I can say is that there is no clarity and hence, we have no plans in the medium term to roll out a campus in India.”
Kumar adds that the university’s decision not to start an MBA program also originates from a desire to maintain consistency and quality. “Our approach to degree programmes outside the U.S. is to use our own faculty for the uniformity of experience for students.” Instead, according to The Economic Times, Booth will use the Delhi center to “support research projects in India and to run non-degree short courses tailored to specific topics such as family business, leadership, finance, and governance, among others.”
Kumar also cites Booth alumni financial contributions and networking as key to the center’s success. While critics charge that an MBA is increasingly irrelevant, Kumar fires back that the return far exceeds the investment. “[An] MBA education from a top school has a strong value proposition. My own school for example has very high placement rates. The differential compensation that they get because of the fact that they got an MBA and the acceleration of their career trajectory more than pays for their MBA cost…An MBA should not be measured by the quality of the first job, but by the career a person gets.”