Integrated management programmes are much in vogue right now in the country. One of the primary drivers for that has been the Integrated Programme in Management (IPM) envisaged by the Indian Institute of Management in Indore (IIM- I). This course ran in to several false starts to begin with, but is now easily considered one of the elite programmes all over the country. Subsequently, the IIM in Rohtak has also begun the same programme. This begets the original question to be posed again. That is what several industry and academia experts had alleged right at the start. Their contention was that this IPM qualification, was no way at par with the one attained post belling the CAT (Common Admission Test).
Let us study these claims in greater detail. To understand this let us first look at the major advantages that the MBA (formerly the Post Graduate Diploma in Management- PGDM) from an IIM bestows upon the successful candidate:
- Top academic environment with the best of teachers, an updated curriculum, and access to world- class resources via the library and the online key to journals.
- An excellent peer group, as all students joined having faced some of the most gruelling of competition.
- Top placements, thanks to the slew of recruiters who line up during hiring season.
- Access to a rich alumni list, who have studied at the college in the past.
- Entertainment options, that come naturally thanks to a large campus, excellent physical infrastructure and hundreds of students within the campus.
If we look at these factors, that make for a vivid experience at an IIM, we notice that most of them would also apply to any student who cracked a seat open via the IPMAT (IPM Aptitude Test). Point 1 remains common as teachers remain the same, curriculum remains likewise updated, and there is the same access to the physical infra. Point 5 is similarly taken care of, as the campus remains the same. The peer group highlighted in point 2, some may debate to not be of equal quality, as far fewer students apply for the IPMAT, than those via CAT.
However, that misses the point that the number of options are also far fewer. For every one- hundred good and decent option for management at the master’s level, there are perhaps a dozen or two. This is because at the UG level, engineering and medical remain the most sought- after courses, while the same is true for management at the PG stage. In addition, also due to the relative dearth in options, students applying for the IPMAT, are those with a genuine talent and interest, rather than several who appear just to make up the numbers. The entrance exam is really tough, content- wise, but in addition, they also need to go through all the gruelling soft skills rounds that the CAT applicants need to take up as well.
One thing the IPM students do lack is in work experience, as they are fresh from school, and join the MBA programme immediately on closure of their UG. However, this is more than made up by the projects on campus, volunteering, live projects, internships, and most crucially the rural immersion programme, that is a hallmark of the IPM. If we see point 3, placements were somewhat constrained at the start, with recruiters shying away from these students, not offering them equal packages. But that is no more, as placement trends are now quite equable across the two products, at least in the college where both the courses are offered simultaneously, i.e. at IIM Indore.
Point 4 is about the alumni network. This again remains common. Admittedly, those via the CAT route would perhaps be shown greater bonhomie by a large number of alumni who have made it past the similar method, but it would not be a constraining factor, across the vast base. In addition, now with several batches of the 5- year integrated programme, having also graduated from campus, there is a sort of an alumni base developing for IPM as well. So, we see so far, that while there are some constraints, for the most part, these may not be decisive. On the other hand, there are some clear advantages that students of the IPM possess.
These may be discussed below:
- IPMAT clearers are the early risers, with an early career advantage.
- The first three years’ programme is uniquely curated, with almost a liberal arts profile, which is perfectly well suited to the modern- day business professional.
- One can reserve a seat at an IIM, straight after class XII, thus reducing the upheavals that naturally accompany any student, at the early part of one’s career.
The idea of this article was not to compare. Both the routes have their own pros and cons. But by and large, the way these courses have been designed, students can extract much success from both.