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European business schools step up to support students amidst COVID-19

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Many top European business schools such as London Business School are bolstering efforts to support students in light of COVID-19.


By U2B Staff 

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European business schools rank among the best in the world, but a recent survey suggests that students’ interest might be waning in light of the pandemic. 

An analysis of GMAT test-takers data shows that there has been sustained growth in the proportion of prospective candidates considering studies in Europe, wrote Rahul Choudaha, the Director of Industry Insights and Research Communications at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), on EFMD News.

“Emerging countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America drove much of this growth,” he said, adding that the proportion of candidates from Africa sending reports to Europe increased from 23.3% in TY 2011 to 30.2% in TY 2019 (testing year runs from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019).

But COVID-19 is shifting global mobility patterns and influencing the choice preferences of prospective students considering studies in Europe, said Choudaha.

The survey – which saw 829 prospective business school students, including 637 international candidates – showed that 41% of the respondents reported that they are extremely concerned or very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their plans to pursue a graduate degree.

However, when looking at citizenship, 42% of international candidates and 36% of domestic candidates reported that they are extremely concerned or very concerned, suggesting that overall concern levels for both parties are only slightly different. 

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The results are based on a subset of survey respondents who indicated a preference to study in Europe. 

Travel bans are among the top reasons for the concerns, affecting international candidates more than domestic candidates due to visa and related reasons. Similarly, international candidates are more concerned about the job market status than domestic candidates due to higher investments in education and expectations for career advancement.

However, the contrast between domestic and international candidates is more apparent when comparing the perception of the impact of COVID-19 on Europe as a study destination. 

Nearly half of all international candidates reported that they were concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the region where they want to study (Europe) as compared to 31% of domestic candidates.

What European business schools are doing to support students

Many European business schools have made changes to their programmes in light of the pandemic, including waiving admissions tests and/or offering blended learning.

Back in May, president of European Foundation for Management Development Eric Cornuel told The PIE News that some schools may push some candidates to postpone their enrolment plans and companies to curb spending on executive development programmes.

Meanwhile, the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association said some members have seen 30% spikes in online MBA programme applications, while the EFMD said some of its 937 members had shown a “significant” increase in applications in every programme.

“From more flexible application procedures and deadlines, through online interviews, virtual campus tours, to live events run on social media, schools around the globe are trying to mitigate the disruptive force of the pandemic,” he said.

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Some institutions such as the John Hopkins Carey Business School said they will waive GMAT/GRE requirements for the remainder of the fall 2020 application cycle for full-time MBA programmes.

At HEC Paris, work is underway to prepare for students’ return for the new academic year on August 31 at the Jouy-en-Josas campus and on the Champerret site in France. Classes will be organised with a mix of in class and online content with possibly smaller class sizes whenever appropriate or required, said the university.

Others such as the London Business School and Cambridge Judge Business School will offer students a hybrid form of learning. 

While not all business schools will be operating like normal, it’s worth noting that despite a global health crisis at hand, many believe that an economic slowdown is a good time for upskilling in preparation for careers in a post-COVID-19 world.