Why is the number of CAT Aspirants not increasing?

Why is the number of CAT Aspirants not increasing?

MBA remains one of the most sought-after professional degrees in India. Every year, we see new colleges offering MBA programs and promising a goldmine of benefits on the completion of the course. The annual CAT (Common Admission Test) conducted for this purpose is considered to be one of the most competitive exams held in our country.

However, in the recent years, there has been a drop in the number of MBA aspirants registering for the CAT exam, and also in the number of aspirants actually appearing for the exam. Here’s a look at the statistics and the possible reasons for this decline.

Ground reality

Though the decline in the number of CAT aspirants is not a continuous one, the numbers are good enough to be pondered upon.

In 2017, approximately 2,31,000 registrations were received for the exam, almost 1500 less compared to the previous year’s (2016) figure. As a matter of fact, the actual number of registrants for the 2017 exam was 2,80,000, but around 50,000 of them didn’t make the final payment, bringing it down to 2,31,000.

A similar decline was seen from years 2008 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2014. In the year 2013, CAT saw the least number of registrations, 1.94 lakh, which was a drop of around 20,000 students from the previous year’s figure of 2.14 lakhs.

Reasons for the drop

The less number of CAT registrations prior to 2014 can be mainly attributed to the economic downturn India was facing up till that year. With the markets having gone down the slope over the years, people’s sentiments with regard to job market were not very favorable.

Job-security was one of the major reasons why MBA schools in India used to perform exceptionally well. The public perception towards a management programs was that with an MBA degree, one would automatically receive lucrative job-offers. However, that assurance went missing after the economic downturn.

Another reason behind such a trend can be attributed to the sharply increasing fees of the MBA programmes. For two-year postgraduate programmes, IIMs can charge a fee anywhere between Rs. 9 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh. As recently as in March 2018, the IIM Ahmedabad increased its fee to Rs.22 lakhs. Most of the colleges blame inflation for the fee hikes. However, at the end of it all, it’s the students who have to bear the burden of such high costs.

Effects of the fee hike

Majority of the students are left with no option but to take big loans to pay such humongous amounts. And loans aren’t everyone’s piece of cake. Various aspirants believe that paying such huge sums is often not worth the benefits they might derive from successful completion of the corresponding degree. This increase in the fees can only be expected to rise every year, with several colleges such as IIM Ahmedabad having a policy for annual fee increments.

This trend has trickled down quickly to other colleges too, including the private ones. Some of the prestigious private MBA colleges including JBIMS, MDI, and SPJIMR have also increased the fee for their MBA/ PGDM programmes considerably.

One surprising aspect to be noticed is that this decline is being witnessed at a time when IIMs have increased their number of seats.

To put things into perspective, what’s probably required today is a positive and promising economy, with a decrease in inflation and a corresponding increase in jobs.

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