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Dr Rakesh Singh

Dr Rakesh Singh
Director, IMT Dubai

The Institute of Management Technology Dubai (IMT Dubai) has created courses to meet the global needs. It provides platform for budding managers to be business-ready for global as well as local markets. In an interaction with Elets News Network (ENN), Dr Rakesh Singh, Director, IMT Dubai, speaks about the opportunities for Indian universities in Dubai, marketing approach of educational institutions, IMT Dubai’s USP and the branding strategy

What is the USP of IMT?

We are the only Indian university, having accreditation from the Commission of Academic Accreditation (CAA), UAE. We have gone through a rigorous accreditation process and have to go through this every three years. We are among the few universities, who have 100 per cent Ph.D faculty members. This all sets us apart from others.

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How do you develop and train your students to prepare them for placements?

We have recently taken a very different approach. We are now focusing on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions for placements. For this, we have a very well-established Middle East business emerging programme.

Now the change that IMT is going through is that all our products are acceptable to the local markets. We have adopted a unique approach. Now we are sensitising our students to the needs of the economy and industry in the MENA region. It is a great localisation of our product. We have a call, “Dubai experiences global impact”. In our Executive MBA programme, we have diversifi ed student base, largely Emi- ratis and other nationalities including Indians, Pakistanis, Germans, etc.

In terms of quality, we are one of the best institutions and have the best quality students. We want to be focused that way only. Though we want to grow in numbers, too, but our main focus would be on quality.

What is the difference in market- ing approach of educational institutions here as compared to India?

Marketing of institutions is same everywhere. It depends upon the type of segment you want to serve. For market- ing in any region, the purpose needs to be put as ‘your story’ rather than ‘my statement’. However, the market here is very unique that doesn’t require quality of institutions as a large number of institutions, who offer something, get numbers here.

If you believe in quality, you will not be at risk to manage the students. You will get a few good students, which is a good growth model for some institutions. We are conservative in marketing ourselves. However, we are changing our approach a little bit. We are not aggressive but we are con- scious of being present. I think that is the way we want go about it.

The amount of funds required to run an institution here is huge. How do you sustain with the lim- ited number of students?

We have a student base of 600 and that is not a huge number. But the fact is that we have never made losses. Com- pared to last year, we are relatively in a good position. Even when the market is declining, we are growing. We have already got admissions in our MBA and Executive MBA programmes. Intern- ship is also happening well. We have a strong internship framework, where projects have to be predefined with the company and for the students.

IMT conducts short-term exchange programmes, in which students come here on a business, academic and social tour and learn about the economy, opportunities and challenges in Dubai

The market in the UAE is highly competitive and is mainly for under- graduates. However, we are largely a postgraduate institution. We have just started at undergraduate level. We are now focussing on targeting schools of undergraduate studies. We are also looking for tie-ups with universities in the UAE to offer dual-programmes and that can lead us ahead.

At undergraduate level, the admissions have started happening in IMT. We have allowed dual-degree pro- grammes with the University of Toledo in US, and Bedfordshire University and Staffordshire University in the UK. All these are adding value to our programmes.

What are the opportunities for universities in India for collaboration with institutions in Dubai?

There are lot of opportunities in Dubai. For instance, what we do with our sister institution in IMT Ghaziabad is a brilliant initiative and also with our other sister institutions in Nagpur and Hyderabad. We conduct short-term ex- change programmes, in which students come here on a business, academic and social tour. For example, on February 21, 2016, from Nagpur, around 20-30 students are coming here. We will take them around for nine days’ business, academic and social tour of Dubai. We will take them for a tour of Burj Khalifa, Night Safari and let them also experience the nightlife in Dubai.

In addition, we have a series of lectures every day on themes like Emer- gence of Dubai, to make them learn about the economy, and opportunities and challenges in Dubai. Besides this, every day a CEO/Head of a corporate venture comes and speaks to students in the evening or morning, depending on the schedule. This becomes a part of course and students have to submit an assignment. This way it becomes a nice training opportunity for them. This we did for IMT Ghaziabad last year. Now Nagpur has signed for 42 students and Hyderabad 66 students. This programme is not free, we charge around AED 10,000 per student.

This gives me confi dence to say that other Indian universities can also create short-term programmes and collabo- rate with universities here.

What are your strategies for pro- moting your brand in the media?

We do promote IMT, but we are a little media shy. We just use the strong pipe- line of IMT Ghaziabad, where 20,000 students are in the list and that is suf- fi cient for us. In addition, we do some ads in newspapers, participate in trade fairs, etc. This year, we are changing our approach and focussing on brand- ing. We are looking at a media channel in each city to advertise and create a buzz that we are here next year.

India will be a prime market for us, as Indian students bring lot of vibrancy. Besides, Pakistani students also have the vibrancy. I expect that in another three years, all the students—be it Indian, Pakistanis or Emiratis—would look at IMT as an option and come to us. I believe, quality-wise our standards on a much higher pedestal.

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