Sonia Tiwari, who completed her BTech in computer sciences in 2021, was in a bit of a quandary — she had an offer from an IT major for a coding job alongside an admission into a two-year business studies programme at a mid-rung B-school. Since the salary package offered was not up to her expectation, she decided to take the plunge into business studies. Sonia is among over 4,00,000 Indian students who will be studying MBA in 2022.

Sonia's choice is not surprising. After a gradual fall in number of B-Schools and student intake in India — from 4.56 lakh students across 3,608 institutes in 2014-15 to 3.72 lakh students in 3,037 institutes in 2019-20 — admissions rose to 4.03 lakh students across 3,107 institutes in 2021-22.

That is not all. As corporates recover from two bad years, more companies are looking to hire students from B-schools, leading to much better placements. Consulting firms continue to be the biggest recruiters. They hired 31% students at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and accounted for 36% of the hires at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

Starting salaries, too, are higher. The average annual salaries among top 12 business schools have risen 30% in 2022. While it was the highest at Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C), at ₹34.20 lakh, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM-K), saw a 30% jump — from ₹22.53 lakh in 2021 to ₹29.50 lakh in 2022.

As demand for business education rises, Indian B-schools are evolving. At one level, they are spreading their wings to cater to the rising demand by opening new campuses in different locations. At another, they are re-working their curriculum to include topics that are in demand, including artificial intelligence, data analytics, business intelligence, data visualisation and gamification.

What started off as three Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta is now a flourishing network of 20 institutes across the country. Among private institutes, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies Mumbai now also has campuses in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Indore; Symbiosis Institute of Business Management Pune has spread to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Nagpur; International Management Institute Delhi has campuses in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, too, while MDI Gurgaon has opened a new campus in Murshidabad. Schools are also spreading their wings globally. Mumbai-based SP Jain School of Global Management has campuses in Dubai, Singapore and Sydney.

Even as business schools expand at home and abroad, their eyes are also set on global recognition — a stepping stone to not just becoming an attractive destination for global students but also, at some point, opening campuses globally. B-Schools are putting their best foot forward for global accreditation. The most prestigious is the Triple Crown — a B-School accredited by Association of MBA's (AMBA) in the U.K., Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in the U.S. and EFMD's EQUIS based in the E.U. Internationally, only about 1% of business schools are triple-accredited. India currently has three schools with triple accreditation — Indian School of Business Hyderabad, IIM Calcutta and IIM Indore. Out of 28 B-Schools that have global accreditation in the country, 19 are AACSB-accredited, 16 are recognised by AMBA and six by EQUIS.

A fallout of uncertain economic conditions and looming global recession is entrepreneurship at B-schools. Despite the rise of unicorns (start-ups valued at $1 billion or above) in the country, there are fewer B-School students ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge. Instead, they look to work in the corporate sector for a couple of years. This is largely a fallout of challenges Indian start-ups have faced over the past 12 months, finding it hard to raise the next rounds of funding.

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