IIPM: An embarrassing story for DAAD

Von am 9. März 2009

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) hopes to intensify student exchange with India through its special program “A New Passage to India.” A summer programs from a German university was set to receive financial support in the amount of 80,000 euros with the controversial IIPM. Now the DAAD is putting the brakes on it.

While approximately 4,000 Indians are currently registered at German universities, only about 150 Germans study in India. The new “A Passage to India” program is slated to change this. The Ministry of Education will make 3.1 million euros available to the DAAD in 2009 alone for study and research exchanges at Indian universities.

One of the winners is the summer program at the Neu-Ulm University. “The compact program with theory and practical applications, our experience and the reputation of our Indian partner school were decisive factors in the success of our application for funds,” explained project leader and professor Klaus Lang. To this end, in both September 2009 and 2010, 30 students from the university were set to study for four weeks at the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) in Bangalore, with the DAAD providing 80,000 euros in support.

25 Neu-Ulm students already did an exchange at the IIPM in 2008. “The selection committee appeared impressed by the excellent experiences and cooperation up to now,” writes the DAAD. Not only were the process and results of the summer school good, but Professor Bernard H. Wagemann, then responsible for the project, also received the patronage of Annette Schavan, the Federal Minister of Education and Science.

But clearly it didn’t occur to anyone that the IIPM is an exceedingly controversial school that isn’t recognized as a university in India. As MBA Channel recently reported, the IIPM has repeatedly advertised with renowned partner schools, which in turn deny any cooperation. The Stanford Graduate School of Business distanced itself from false claims by the IIPM in 2007. In June, the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago requested that the IIPM remove its name entirely from the IIPM website.

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A simple Google search is all it takes to find countless information on the questionable Indian school. A comprehensive Wikipedia entry also provides such information. The Neu-Ulm University however clearly didn’t make the effort to take these steps.

But the DAAD also goofed up when formally evaluating the application for support. “We only realized through your request that we’d made a mistake,” explains Nina Lemmens, Director of the Internationalization and Communication department at the DAAD and former director of the Asia Pacific group. Unfortunately, the fact that the IIPM “doesn’t comply with our standards” was overlooked.

After weighing the possible losses, a decision against suddenly withdrawing the support for the Neu-Ulm University’s project was made, so as to protect the German students involved from any losses. However, the university is working with the DAAD to find another partner school on short notice. “The entire situation is an embarrassing and unpleasant story,” says the DAAD Director.

The renowned RWTH Aachen University also nearly entered into a cooperation with the IIPM. It was only because the Indian school didn’t send the contract back that the exchange didn’t materialize. In 2007 the school made an inquiry to the DAAD about the IIPM, says Heide Naderer, Director of the International Office. The inquiry was forwarded to Ulrich Podewils, director of the DAAD’s branch office in New Delhi at the time. His response was that the IIPM was among the top ten in the rankings from a group that included some 1,000 schools. “But even if we reduced this number to 100, it is still among the top 10 percent… So the IIPM is among the better B-schools in India.”

What wasn’t conveyed is that the IIPM is a questionable institute that is not recognized as a university,” says Naderer. Of course people normally put their trust in the DAAD. “That would have been a pretty big catastrophe in this case,” she says. “We’ve never done an exchange with a non-recognized university. It also wouldn’t be possible to have any credits recognized elsewhere.”

Other universities however clearly have fewer worries. The University of Bayreuth, for example, has an exchange program with the IIPM. Some of the students spent a semester there and found the exchange to be thoroughly positive, writes Professor Reinhard Meckl, Chair of International Management. Although he’s often heard of the IIPM’s problematic practices, he has yet to see a reason to end the cooperation with the IIPM.

The Mercator School of Management at the University of Duisburg-Essen, which has been offering an exchange program for Masters students with the IIPM since 2009, is being downright stubborn. On the school’s website it says, “The IIPM is very highly ranked across the board by independent institutions and largely continues to be among the top 10 Indian business schools.” Studying at the IIPM also offers “an academically excellent complement to studying in Germany.”

The university continues to stick to the cooperation even after being confronted with the facts about the IIPM. The school “thoroughly evaluated in advance whether the IIPM would come into the question as a partner for an exchange program” and there was “no evidence found to counter the cooperation.”





Foto Bärbel Schwertfeger, MBA Journal

Über Bärbel Schwertfeger

Bärbel Schwertfeger ist Diplom-Psychologin und seit 1985 als freie Journalistin im Bereich Management, Weiterbildung und Personalentwicklung tätig.