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Cricket to curry, Indian students energise US B-school

Cricket to curry, Indian students energise US B-school

New Delhi,  From cricket to curry, Indian students who account for one of the largest overseas groups at the premier Darden B-school in the US have a “wonderful influence” on the community and are being embraced “wholeheartedly”, the institution’s dean says.

“I believe Darden is better for having them and that they are better for coming to Darden,” Dean Robert F. Bruner told IANS.

Since 1982 and especially since the 1990, the enrolment of Indian nationals in the MBA programmes at Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia has grown steadily and quite materially.

“India today accounts for either the first or the second largest cohort of international students in the Darden school,” Bruner pointed out.

“The students have a wonderful influence on our community and we embrace them wholeheartedly and they integrate very well. Obviously, we share our language, we share many institutions,” said the head of Darden, which Forbes has ranked ninth in its list of top US B-schools.

Around 100,000 students are currently said to be studying in the US, of which over 70 percent are enrolled in graduate studies.

Noting that Indian students “like to participate” in class, Bruner said: “They are starting a club to teach other students at Darden the game of cricket, they are teaching Indian cuisine and indeed a student born and raised in Chennai is the vice president of our students’ union.”

“They are demonstrating leadership qualities and great potential. I am telling you these minute details to tell you that we welcome them, and they have a great engagement with our community,” Bruner said.

Bruner, who joined Darden in 1982, became its dean in 2005. He was on his seventh visit to India, which boasts of a vibrant alumni association of the B-school numbering some 300. To what did Bruner ascribe the growing number of Indian students?

“The average starting salaries of our students is pretty high. The market for talent is very efficient and people who view themselves as high performance individuals and high potential performers would want to go where other high potential individuals are because in graduate school you learn much more from the students around you than what you do from the faculty. But also they want to go there because it’s a measure of achievement.

“I think the second big reason is these very students are recognising the extreme significance globalisation is likely to play in their lives and in the business economy in the decades to come. To immerse yourself in another culture or several other cultures that gives you that much of breath and sensitivity, the kind of issues that managers would face…it’s a very strong preparation for the future,” Bruner explained.

In his experience, do Indian students remain in the US after obtaining a Darden degree or do they return home?

“Students who graduate from the Darden continue to work in the United States for a period of time, say three to five years after graduating, and thereafter they would often go back home to start or buy companies or help organise small professional firms or they would follow the incentives provided by multinationals and would move anywhere in the world to pursue their careers.

“Singapore, London, Dubai – all of these are examples of clusters of the Indian graduates whom I’ve met in recent years and to illustrate the phenomenal cluster of the Indian diaspora, we increasingly see Indians organise facility groups and network together. They share investment ideas and often they would co-invest together,” Bruner said.

He also noted that in the past three years since the global meltdown, “we have seen more Indian graduates or Chinese graduates returning home upon completing their course”.


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