IIPM's offering of MBA/ BBA degrees is illegal and students using the title can be prosecuted

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:

  1. The MBA/BBA degree given by IMI, Belgium is not recognised and hence not legitimate even in its country of origin, Belgium.
  2. Students in Belgium using the title ‘Master’ or ‘Bachelor’ can even be prosecuted, if it is based on a degree given by IMI.
  3. 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.

BBA/MBA degrees

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.

-Original Message-
From: XXXXXXXXX
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 8:14 PM
To: XXXXXXXX
Subject: RE: Kind attn: XXXXXXXX,as per telecon yesterday
Dear XXXXXX
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.
Best regards

Campus placement
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.

BARCLAYS, DUBAI

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.

 Khimji Ramdas

Position: Section Sales.
Salary: 250 Omani Riyals or Rs.31,000 P.M or 3.7 lakhs P.A
Job: It is a two year contract
Conditions: If you leave before 24 months, you pay the company recruitment, visa, air ticket and other expenses. Even if you have to temporarily leave for an emergency, deposit the same amount with the employer.

Al Sharawi Group

Position: Executive Trainee
Salary: 2300 AED in the first year progressively reaching 3000 AED in the 4th year (27600 P.M in the first year going up to Rs.36000 P.M in the 4th year).
Conditions: If you resign during the contract, you can not take up employment in competing companies, and pay the company two months salary.
 

Frequency Advertising LLC
Position: Marketing Executive
Salary: 3500 AED(incl HRA) or Rs.42,000 P.M.or 5 lacs P.A Conditions: Office hours 8.30 am to 6.30 pm, 6 months probation, No leave entitlement during probation.

Ceramin FZC
Position: Management Trainee - Sales & Marketing
Salary: 3000 AED (incl HRA) or Rs.36,000 P.M or 4.4 lacs P.A
Conditions: 12 months training period, Valid Passport to be submitted at the time of joining.

Note: All the jobs excluding Frequency LLC provides single accomodation


International collaborations
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
From: XXXXXXXX
To: XXXXXXXX
Cc:XXXXXXXX
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.

 
I should caution that I am only responding for the McCombs School of Business. While McCombs is the only business school at the University of Texas at Austin, it is possible that they have a relationship with another college at UT-Austin. If that were the case I would not be aware of it.

Best regards,

David E. Platt, Ph.D., Director,CIBER, McCombs School of Business

Judge B School, University of Cambridge

Hello XXXXXX
Thanks for your enquiry about the programme Judge Business School is delivering to IIPM participants.

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.

Very best

Aislinn Ryan,Communications Manager, Judge Business School

Darden B School, Univesity of Virginia
Dear XXXXXXX

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.

Best regards,
Juliet Daum, Director of Communication, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
For a few dollars more - The changing colours of UCB
Haas B School, University of California, Berkeley (UCB)


 

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 protected]]
Sent: 27 February 2009 01:51
To: XXXX
Cc: UTE FREY
Subject: RE: query regarding your Institute's association with IIPM,Delhi
XXXXX UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business is in no way affiliated or connected with IIPM.I am told this institution has been known to claim associations with top universities without any basis. One of the ways they do this is that they invite faculty to do some executive education stint and then use the university name for ever. It is possible that some Haas faculty has done work for them but the Berkeley and/or Haas name should not be associated with IIPM.

Pamela Tom
Media Relations, Haas School of Business
2nd Response

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.
3rd Response

From: Pamela Tom []]mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:45 AM
To: XXXXX
Subject: RE: In continuation of your correspondence with XXXXXX

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.

Pamela Tom
First Person
'IT IS VERY EASY FOR YOU TO ASK WHY I DON'T SPEAK UP'
Sir, I have a mom, who is a heart patient, a father who is a teacher in a school, and a village which looks up to me. It is very easy for you to ask why I don't speak up. If I do, my people would come to know I did a degree which is useless, my company will sack me, and the bank would strangulate my dad for the loan instalment.' says Ramesh*, a pass out from IIPM. Ramesh like most of us comes from one of the tier 3 towns of our country. He completed his BSc and sought salvation in an MBA. But he chose IIPM, thanks in no small measure to the full page multicolour advertisements he and his parents frequently saw, in publications they trusted for ages. He adds ruefully, 'Sir, I got a good percentile in MAT (above 90 percentile), and had offers from the best colleges. At least I would have got a recognized degree.'

'What did you learn?' I ask. 'We are frequently taught by students who passed out from the last batch and work for Planman Consulting,' said Ramesh. He fought bitterly and got placed through campus in a company based in south India. The institute promised him Delhi, the company told him that they had specifically informed the placement office of IIPM about their need for people in the south. So he was on his own again. Ramesh smiles at a thought. 'I am much better off than some of my friends who got a campus placement in companies where you are paid Rs.200 as commission for every card you sell, and no salary at all.' His bitterness creeps through. He goes on. 'Sir, 10% of MBAs secure jobs, because we are well-groomed, speak good English, and are well-connected. 50% of us are not connected but have the rest of the qualities, and struggle a bit. The remaining 40% who has neither are already in s***. So the least they can do is to keep quiet.'

Ramesh pays more than 2/3rd of his meagre salary to service his loans, lives in a cramped shanty, puts up a brave face to his doting parents, hopes for the best and keeps quiet. While relating events, the brave boy, briefly wavers and with a lump in his throat says. 'Maine yeah soch ke ayaa, yeah ek formal interaction hai. Baat karthe karthe bahout kuch bol diya.' (I came to meet you, telling myself it is a formal interaction. But as I got talking I spoke quite a lot). All of us look in different directions, and let that moment pass.
* Name changed to protect identity

First Person
'WE WERE TAKEN FOR A RIDE'

'The IIPM had indulged in heavy advertising promising the sky and claiming to be the best management institute in the country. It was very clear in its advertisements that it will give MBA degrees from a University. We got lured by the fake ads coupled with newspaper news praising IIPM institute,' says Shiv Prasad.*
'It is only after the UGC blacklisted it that the cat came out of the bag. Now it started giving advertisements that it prepares students for BBA and MBA degrees and does not give degrees by itself. This is a clear case of cheating as we have the copy of the earlier advertisements claiming that they give degrees. Parents from Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and UP are still falling prey and the institute is flourishing!
The institute has never given full receipts for the amount we paid and if given, it was under a different head. Recognition was never a concern for us, because the ad blitz was so strong we got carried away and the UGC also acted very late. Most of the parents are still not aware about the UGC controversy as the matter appeared in Delhi newspapers only.
Regarding placements, this year (2009) all students have been clearly told that the institute does not guarantee placement. Students have to look for positions on their own. Many students with campus jobs could not join as HR divisions of companies are avoiding IIPM students. Most of the students are coming back with their useless training certificates. The institute has hardly any campus placements and it does not help students find jobs elsewhere as well. Having taken a bank loan between 4 lakhs to 10 lakhs, we are ruined, and actually don't know which way to turn.' * Name changed to protect identity NOTE: Readers may look for the counter view of IIPM in the next issue, if received

 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 protected].

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.





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