In June 2009, we did an investigative story IIPM - best only in claims?, which discussed among other things, the validity of degrees offered by IMI (a Belgian institute IIPM tied up with, to award MBA/BBA degrees to IIPM students). Students must know that IIPM cannot award recognised BBA./MBA degrees since it is not approved by AICTE/ UGC.
The tie-up with IMI, Belgium was to overcome this handicap. Subsequent to the publication of our story, on June 18, 2009, IIPM brought out advertisements mentioning degrees to be offered by University of Buckingham, UK and not from IMI, Belgium. We cross-checked with the University of Buckingham and published another article in July 2009 issue, which debunked this claim, too.
|IIPM's advertisement on Feb 1, 2010 (click on image to view full ad)|
Post the publication of our second article, IIPM removed the name of University of Buckingham from the ad. However, we noticed that the name IMI had cropped up again. Hence, we decided to take up the matter with the Rudy Derdelinckx, Director of NVAO, (the UGC/ AICTE equivalent authority for regulation of Higher Education in Belgium) to check the validity of degrees issued by IMI, Belgium. We were sincerely hoping that the accreditation/approval status of IMI has changed for the benefit of students in India and hence its re-appearence in IIPM's ads. We give below the official communication from Director, NVAO below.
|Letter from Director, NVAO (click on image to enlarge)|
The essence of the letter is as follows:
- The MBA/BBA degree given by IMI, Belgium is not recognised and hence not legitimate even in its country of origin, Belgium.
- Students in Belgium using the title ‘Master’ or ‘Bachelor’ can even be prosecuted, if it is based on a degree given by IMI.
- Using those titles (given by IMI, Belgium) without holding a legitimate degree is illegal in Belgium.
As this is very important information that we received from NVAO, we decided to add this advisory for information to all prospective students of IIPM. Students can also make their own verification in the country where they wish to study/work as the rules regarding validity/prosecution/illegality may vary from country to country, though the rules are largely based on their validity from the country where the qualification originates from.
Note: Readers may look for the response from IIPM, which would be published as soon as it is received.
A backgrounder on the story so far:
This started off as a normal investigation, into the malaise affecting the education system and the checks and balances that need to be brought in. After all, we all know that the government cannot be a sole participant in making the youth employable and the country a prosperous one.
Everyone that we spoke to was of the unanimous opinion - while a systemic overhaul is essential to improve the quality of many bad institutions in the country, the least we could do is to protect students and parents from being misguided and misled by willful wrong-doers. There are institutes where students walk in with their eyes open and know what to expect. And there are those where they walk in, blinded - misled, misguided and misinformed, by a campaign where media, regulatory agencies and academia become willing accomplices. While we can't do much about the informed decisions, we have to take up the cause of those who were cheated, an act that robs students of their career and in a way, their life.
As we scanned the ads, spoke to experts, affected parties and counselors, we realised that one name cropped up the most - IIPM. We decided to investigate. We sent mails to all those, that IIPM draws upon to validate its claims in its advertisements, namely - journalists, editors, foreign universities, employers. We spoke to current and former students and their parents. What our investigation unravelled left us cold. Here is an institution that enjoys all the privileges of an academic institution (according to IT authorities, it claimed exemptions citing Section 10(23C) (VI) of the Income Tax act, 1961) with zero responsibility and accountability. Here is an institution that brazenly uses its power and reach to make unsubstantiated claims that play with the lives of students and parents alike. We know we are opening a Pandora's Box, but are prepared for the repercussions, knowing fully well that you, our readers are with us. We were shocked by our findings, and what you are reading is just a part of it. We await your verdict.
IIPM CLAIMS to award PG/UG degrees from IMI Belgium. We checked with NVAO, the accreditation organization of Netherlands and Flanders(Belgium) about IMI Belgium. The response from them is given below. This implies that the degree that students earn would be useless for higher education or employment anywhere in the world, where formal degrees are required.
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 8:14 PM
Subject: RE: Kind attn: XXXXXXXX,as per telecon yesterday
To answer your first question, I would refer to our official register of recognised institutions and degrees: http://www.highereducation.be . Please read two items in our section FAQ:- http://www.hogeronderwijsregister.be/faq/117/48 - http://www.hogeronderwijsregister.be/faq/117/49 IMI Belgium is not a recognised higher education institution (neither in the Dutch nor the French speaking part of Belgium). Since it is not recognised it cannot award recognised degrees.
In our position it is difficult to answer your second question. For us only registered institutions with accredited programmes are considered credible.
BASED ON some of the claims about MNC employers participating in the campus recruitments at IIPM, we checked with a few of them. We are listing a few responses, of employers, who have denied having recruited from the IIPM campus from the class of 2008, though IIPM claims otherwise. There have been a few more, who did not respond and we did not pursue, as we already got a sample of what is in store. Some gave us information but refused to come on record.
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, says
We have hired 9 students from IIPM this year, though this was not through the campus recruitment process. These are all freshers.
I have looked into the below and we at Barclays, UAE Dubai have not done any campus placement with this institute.
DEUTSCHE BANK ( sms response)
Deutsche bank has no association with IIPM in terms of campus placements. We may have one or two employees from IIPM at the junior level but that's about it
Un(en)viable International Placements
ANY B-SCHOOL that claims to have the interest of students at heart should ensure that only companies that would treat students with respect, dignity and care would be allowed in the placement process. We are listing out some of the placements facilitated by IIPM. Look at the offer details and make your own judgement.
|Saud Bahwan Group|
Position: Senior sales officer
Salary: 275 Omani Rials or Rs.34,000 P.M plus 23 rials as food allowance
Job: It is a two year contract and not a job offer
Conditions: Passport to be surrendered and Termination at employer's discretion during probation with 48 hours notice.
Position: Section Sales.
Al Sharawi Group
Position: Executive Trainee
Frequency Advertising LLC
Note: All the jobs excluding Frequency LLC provides single accomodation
IIPM claims to award a global certification in management for all its students from one of the leading universities of the world. Every advertisement carries the logo of institutions like Darden, Haas, Judge etc as partnering institutions. Some ads even say the certification is from one of these universities. We wrote to each of the institution to check the veracity of IIPM's Claims. Here is what they have to say.
|McCombs Business School, University of Austin,Texas|
Subject: RE: Query regarding your Institute's association with IIPM,Delhi
I'm sorry, but I am unaware of any association between the McCombs School of Business and IIPM. It is possible that they have a connection I am unaware of with a particular professor, but in any case they are not an official partner school.
David E. Platt, Ph.D., Director,CIBER, McCombs School of Business
Judge B School, University of Cambridge
This is a five day non-degree executive education programme delivered in Cambridge by Judge Business School.
IIPM have engaged us to deliver and the first group will commence in July 2009. There are no university qualifications awarded from Cambridge University or Judge Business School. The only certificate is a certificate of attendance which is what we provide to participants on all our programmes.
Aislinn Ryan,Communications Manager, Judge Business School
Darden B School, Univesity of Virginia
Thanks again for your e-mail. The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business has agreed to provide a series of week-long Executive Education programs (i.e., a contracted teaching arrangement) for IIPM. Darden has no partnership agreement or tie-up with IIPM.
Along with Cambridge (Judge) and UC Berkeley (Haas), Darden will host IIPM's Executive Education program participants and deliver to them a high-quality mix of general business class sessions. No course credits at Darden or UVA are associated with this program, as IIPM is not a partner school and their participants are not taking Darden courses.
|THE SLOWDOWN may have hit the revenues of the international B-schools! The desperation with which they are getting into arrangements with Indian B-Schools to lend their name as 'participating,' 'partner', 'affiliating' B -School - all to earn a few dollars more, while compromising on their ethics and professionalism left us flummoxed. And when no less than the University of Berkeley tries to wriggle out of a situation through three different mails, each a reaction to a correspondence by us and possibly IIPM as well, we are bewildered. The first said no connection what so ever, second acknowledged a client relationship and the third announced CEE sending faculty to IIPM programme (which programme?). We cannot understand what is the truth and why this progressive grovelling? (Read the mails below and form your own opinion).|
Ist Response 27th February 2009
From: Pamela Tom ]mailto:email@example.com]
XXXXX, On February 26, you wrote to verify the 'association' between the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) and the University of California. While the statement that the two are not 'affiliated' is accurate, at the time, we were unaware of a new client relationship between IIPM and the Haas School's Center for Executive Education. CEE and IIPM have a contract, the first program will begin in June and the agreement permits client institutions to say that they are 'participating' with the Haas School of Business.
From: Pamela Tom ]mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
In response to your inquiries about the Center for Executive Education's contract with the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM): During the duration of the agreement, IIPM, the client, may represent itself as a business school 'participating' with the Haas School of Business. Participation means IIPM has contracted with CEE to provide Haas faculty to teach courses in the IIPM program. A five-day program scheduled for January 2009 was cancelled. A five-day program is now scheduled for June 2009.
IIPM makes another claim
When we ended our investigative piece on IIPM last month, we were hoping for a response from IIPM disputing our story. We were prepared, armed with all information(some of which we published) if we were hauled up. The lack of response proves that IIPM has nothing to contest. However, there was a response, through double page ads in media.
One of the many false claims by IIPM, that we exposed in the last issue of Careers360 (www.careers360.com), was about the BBA/MBA degrees on offer. The degrees awarded by IIPM in collaboration with IMI Belgium were in fact unrecognized. Even after the expose IIPM continued to use IMI, Belgium. As recent as 15th June, an ad released in the Times of India mentioned the IMI degrees on offer.
On 18 June, post our exposé, we saw an ad in the Times of India and Hindustan Times, where the BBA/MBA degree was now being offered from Buckingham Business School (University of Buckingham) and no longer from IMI Belgium. Aware of the past history of the claims made by IIPM, we sent a mail to the University of Buckingham to verify this new claim. The response from the University of Buckingham left us despairing (see the mail above). The University of Buckingham's response implies that:
1. The university of Buckingham hasn't consented to the advertisements (and the claims made in it).
2.That no such consent would be forthcoming until their programmes (IIPM's programmes) are formally accredited under the QAA guidelines.
3.That no such arrangement exists as on date.
The QAA in UK is similar to National Board of Accreditation (NBA) in India. IIPM's programmes are not accredited by NBA. We wonder, how IIPM would submit its programmes to QAA when they have refused to do the same with NBA.
So as we file this story, the students are not guaranteed of a University of Buckingham degree. We have called up the Vice- Chancellor's office of University of Buckingham on 23rd June and written to him on the 24th of June(After the response from their PR department's denial of relationship as on date on the 21st of June) but haven't recieved any response from his office.
However, we are at a loss to deal with the brazenness of these claims each bigger than the other. Is there a way to discourage such institutes from making these false claims in the name of great education? Would Mr.Kapil Sibal, the current HRD minister and one of the best lawyers of India, take an active interest to bring in some transparency to prevent any institutes' taking students for a ride? Can the regulators, government and judiciary impose certain accountability for such claims on all institutes? Or would this be another investigation that bites the dust for want of follow up and regulatory action? We have done our job. It is over to you Mr.Sibal.
Dear readers, we greatly value your suggestions, so visit us at (www.careers360.com) and give us your comments. If you need to maintain confidentiality, in a mail to the editor, at email@example.com.
NOTE: Readers may look for the counter view of IIPM, if received. We would also carry any response received from the Vice-Chancellors' office of University of Buckingham.