Prof. Ricky Lim Answers

You asked and Prof. Ricky Lim has listened-- the W. SyCip Graduate School of Business has replied to the questions posed in the open Q & A in the last post. Issues like career placement, accreditation, education quality, the MBA program are some of the swirling issues that have hovered over this blog this past week.

I'm sure everyone has anticipated what Prof. Lim has to say so here are his replies to your queries:

RAL: First of all, thanks to everyone for waiting patiently. I was in Indonesia last week and teaching all this week. This is the first breather I have had.

I see many similar questions and I hope I can answer them without redundancy. I welcome all ongoing queries, but please bear with me if I am unable to answer right away. Salamat.

Q: does the management still plan to reaquire the equis accreditation? What's the real status of the aacsb accreditation? im just wondering 'coz when i checked the school's website, the two logos (equis and aacsb) were already gone.
RAL: Yes, AIM plans to re-acquire. Our Board of Trustees and Governors have in fact mandated us to re-apply after two years. AIM still has AACSB accreditation for at least one year. People might have gotten the impression that we lost AACSB as well, but we removed the logos because of style considerations--we decided to take the logos away from our collaterals, since most of our co-members in AACSB and EQUIS did not use them in such prominent positions.
Q: Why did AIM lose the accreditation in the first place?
RAL: We technically did not lose it--the AIM Board of Governors, Trustees, and Management decided not to re-apply for it this year. Instead we intend to improve key areas in the next two years and then re-apply.

The EQUIS accreditation normally lasts five years, upon which time the EFMD (the owners of EQUIS) sends an inspection team to check on compliance. In the last visit the EFMD-EQUIS team made a number of comments: education quality, student and alumni attitudes, outside relationships to the business community, and curricula content were judged to remain excellent. In a number of areas the team found that AIM would need improvement, such as faculty age, diversity of faculty (i.e.from non-Philippine countries), and refereed research. We agree on these recommendations and we are currently striving to improve these areas. On still other issues such as governance we had some disagreements with EFMD findings.
Q: Is the quality of education going down? Lack of good teachers and quality research? What is AIM doing about this?
RAL: No, the quality is not going down. Again the EFMD-EQUIS team found that our level of education remained excellent. There was no lack of good teachers; it was more that EFMD found the average age of teachers to be high, and that we did not have more non-Filipino professors. On research AIM has always seen itself as a practitioner, case-based institution. As a result we were not geared for the "normal" academic route of refereed publications. We are working on raising the number and quality of publications, as well as hiring and developing new, younger Filipino and non-Filipino faculty.
Q: How does the loss of accreditations affect the credibility of the college with the companies recruiting AIM students ..?
RAL: Accrediation is largely a non-issue for placement. Most recruiting companies come to AIM because of their good experience and memories of their previous hires. At the end of the day, while AIM represents a brand of education, companies will hire individuals based more on their work experience (CV) and fit to the company's salient needs.
Q: Does the college plan to renew the accreditations or not .. ?
RAL: Yes, we plan to re-acquire in two years. We are mandated by our own Boards of Governors and Trustees to do so.
Q: I would like to know what steps, if any, have been taken towards the issue. Will it affect the exchange programs with european/american schools in place?
RAL: Most of our European exchanges have been in place since the mid-1990s, even before we got the first EQUIS accrediation in 2004. For that matter, our exchanges with Wharton, Columbia, UCLA, Kenan-Flagler, McGill and other North American schools pre-date AACSB accreditation. We secured these exchanges through PIM, the Program for International Management, a multilateral exchange market. The experiences have been mutually beneficial: all our exchange schools compliment the quality of our students studying there; they are good models for behavior, and they get the best grades in some very tough quant courses. (In some cases our students found the workload in their exchange schools to be very light, compared to the rigor of AIM.) Students that come to AIM are also happy . They are impressed with the level of education and learning, the camaraderie with Asian students, and also with the cultural offerings of the Philippines. For these reasons--long relationships, good word of mouth--we believe we will have no problems with our current exchanges.

Cancellations in exchanges have historically been a result of resource or scheduling constraints. For example, we used to have an exchange with Ivey in Canada, but they backed away from exchange because they went on a 12-month MBA schedule. UCLA withdrew their exchange with us for a few years because of capacity problems, then re-joined two years ago. While our current sixteen-month MBA is shorter than North American MBAs, we are still synchronized with either the Winter or Fall terms of most schools.

FYI we currently have about 35 exchange schools. Please see our website for these.
Q: Will the loss of accreditation affect the exchange program of AIM MBA? Will exchanges to Wharton & Columbia still be offered?
RAL: Please see the explanations above.
Q: How will the loss of accreditation affect placements, student exchange and the brand name of the institute in the industry?
RAL: See some answers above--we do not believe accreditation are issues for placement or for exchanges.
Q: I am an admit into the 2008-09 MBA batch from India. I firstly wanted to confirm that along with the EQUIS accreditation whether AIM has also lost the AACSB Accd? Also I read somewhere that AIM had chosen to allow the AACSB accred. to expire and not re-apply for the same...... is that true? If yes, then can you please clarify, why?
RAL: Please see the answers above. We have not lost the AACSB; we merely removed the logos from our website for style considerations. We have decided to re-apply for EQUIS in two years.

Q: I also wanted to know whether AIM plans to reapply for these accreditations in the future? Finally, will loss of these acc. affect the image of the institute in the international educational community and also if it will affect the student exchange programme of AIM in any way?
RAL: Please see the answers above.
Q: For a long time now, the biggest concern for most indian students has been over the way campus placements are handled in the institute by the placement cell. From what we have heard, and we have heard quite a few things, the placement cell is not a very active part of the institute. Though I am sure the institute must be making all the efforts for increasing efforts in this area, specially for international students(most indian I believe), I would suggest we take a more aggresive stand and put a little bit of more horse power behind it. I am sure attracting companies for recruitment cannot be a problem taking in consideration the reputation of the institute which has only grown in the last 40 years of history.
RAL: We realize the pressures for students, esp. our Indians. You need ROI on your substantial education payments.

Yes, we are taking your ongoing suggestions to boost placement. Our current efforts are in the middle east, esp. Dubai and other Emirate countries. We continue to work with organizations in Singapore such as the EDB to set up more visits, as well as in Hong Kong for not only banking, but China-based manufacturing operations. We plan to utilize our alumni networks more actively, by getting them to open doors and refer our students, even help them with local business intelligence.

Indeed four years ago placement activities in AIM were passive. Placement was not a high priority for us, notwithstanding 40 years of existence. We have since changed that attitude: we have made quantum leaps. While we do not yet have the same level of placement sophistication as the IIMs in immediate placement, our past years' performances were heartening. In 2007 we placed almost 100% of our batch within a few months after graduation. Our average salaries, while not stratospheric, were not shabby, either--our MBAs placed in India earned in a range from Rs 8-17 lakhs annual, depending on experience and background. (This year one of our MM students received an offer of almost 28 lakhs)

For 2008 and beyond I must caution that no country will be the subprime crisis and potential world recession. The weak dollar has also hit exporting-BPO countries like India and the Philippines hard, and companies may be less expansive in hiring. Nevertheless we will keep plugging away. We have a good, full-time team and we are busy spreading the AIM word around all over Asia.
Q: Like everybody else I am yearning for any news on the accreditions, though I am not sure how big the impact is if what is said is true.
RAL: Please see answers above--we are re-applying for the EQUIS in two years; we have not lost the AACSB. We agree with EQUIS's findings on faculty ages, diversity, and research. We believe however that our exchanges and placement will go on without ill effect. We can certainly improve on placement and continue to court more exchange partners, but this is independent of EQUIS and AACSB.
Q: I hope that with the reduction of course period, which would obvisouly require reduction in the hours assigned for particular courses and may be deletion of some obsolete courses, the quality of education will not be compromised in any manner.
RAL: Quality is sine qua non. We were conscious when we cut the course from 22 to 16 months that quality was the first factor to be maintained.

The current December 2008 batch will agree with me--we might have even added more to their plates than even the past two-year batches. The rigor continues to be tough; the learning intense; the prodding and pushing constant.

We will not sit still, either. We continue to re-tool, re-work our curricula to be more current, better.

Whew. That was a lot of questions. I'd like to thank Prof. Ricky Lim for taking the time to answer the questions. :)


Anonymous said…
thanks Raquedan for your efforts....really appreaciate it .
Anonymous said…
Hey Regnard..... this was an awesome initiative man ... also thanks to Prof. Lim.
Ycerp said…
GOSH! we have to give it to RAL! he IS great!

imagine the patience.

the accomodation.

the patience.


just great!

Anonymous said…
thanks Raquedan! now I can focus more on my review for the aimat. its a great feeling to have these worries out of my head.
Concerned Alumnus said…
I believe in AIM. I have faculty friends, past and existing. I have student friends, past and existing. I keep in touch with them. Because I believe in AIM.

I have a lot of questions. I am looking in from the outside. There is lack of official information. I will just make do with what I have and make my questions as factual as possible.

Here you go, Professor Lim:

1. Prestigious accreditations carry a hefty price. Given the various accreditations that AIM has, it is obvious that a slight tuition increase would have been imposed. Since AIM has lost EQUIS (I hear their logo will not be on the new diplomas and transcripts), will the current students be given a refund? Will the incoming students be given a discount from their fees as well?

2. You said that the removal of the logos from the school's website was due to "style considerations." What exactly are "style considerations"?

3. Most of the questions from this Q&A session have come from your external "clients" (i.e. incoming students). When do you plan to speak to your internal "clients" (i.e. existing students)? I am under the impression that they have been clamoring for answers to a lot of concerns. I know that AIM has their money already but they are just as important as the ones coming in. Right?

4. I have been comparing my AIM experiences with those of my friends from the current and previous batches. Casual comparisons say that the 16-month program was not well thought and planned out. They are experiencing problems - scheduling, professors, no books, cheating incidents, transparency in grading, lack of student mentoring, etc. In short: low quality input = low quality output, garbage in = garbage out. I am sad to admit to the current batch and the incoming ones, most of these concerns we had never experienced in our time.

So when you say that the current December 2008 batch agrees with you on the terms of maintained quality, did you put out a survey for them or even ask for a show of hands? Because that is not the feedback I am hearing from some of them.

5. I heard that six students were taken out the current MBA program without prior notice of their "academic positions." And even more cuts are expected in the coming weeks. Since quality was not seemingly maintained and the concerns of the students have not been answered (see previous question), were you not being a bit harsh and unfair?

6. A newspaper article ( is questioning the qualifications of AIM Dean Victoria Licuanan. It says that she "lacks a doctoral degree for having failed to finish the required thesis," a requirement to become insitute dean. Is this true?

7. And lastly, will it ever be possible to separate politics from academics in AIM? Please refer to the following newsbits:

It was a problem when I was there, I cannot believe that it is still a problem now. The infighting and the stubbornness will never end until both sides realize that AIM is an educational institution, first and foremost. Secondary to being a business and a source of income, being an educator is both a vocation and a calling.

Has AIM strayed from the path set by its founding fathers? Are we witnessing the slow death of an iconic Asian institution?

Readers should understand that this was not meant to put people or the school down. I just put forth issues and concerns that I think the institution should recognize, so that they can make the necessary corrections. If the school goes under, I and the others in its history who have invested their time and money and have benefited from an AIM education will also go down with it.

So for the AIM "powers that be": before it is too late, please do something for the sake of your past, present and future students, and for those individuals who have their names and their portraits emblazoned on AIM's hallowed halls.

Please do not let us down.

NOTE: Thanks to Regnard for giving us a forum to read, experience and discuss the AIM campus life from his able eyes. You may publish this into a separate entry, if you wish to do so. Good luck with your studies!

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