2021 is a Year For Optimism, According to Business Schools and Students | TopMBA.com

2021 is a Year For Optimism, According to Business Schools and Students

By Linda M

Updated October 13, 2021 Updated October 13, 2021

How will industry recover from the pandemic?

  • An era of upskilling
  • Holistic and flexible methods
  • In-person interaction should be the final goal for business

2020 was a very difficult year for b-schools and students around the world.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic also increased people’s interest in pursuing postgraduate business degrees such as an MBA – especially in the western hemisphere. In Europe and the US, applications to MBA programs rose by more than 20 percent in the past year, with Canada closely following at 13 percent.

To take advantage of this wave of applications – and make the admissions process easier for upcoming candidate pools – many business schools in the US and across the globe decided to waive GMAT and GRE requirements.

While this is good news for recruiters and applicants alike, is this enough to ensure a positive return to normalcy? And if not, what other steps should b-schools take?

2020-2021: the era of upskilling

According to Dessy Ohanians, Academic Resources and Quality Manager at The University of Law Business School, b-schools should realize the key role their degree offerings play in helping professionals upskill during a time of crisis.

She said: “For many people, the [coronavirus] pandemic has created profound change in circumstances, such as being made redundant, with many new workers entering the job market during these unprecedented times. Either way, many have seen an increased competition for a smaller number of opportunities.

“The past year has been the one many have used for personal and professional development, to reskill and upskill. This is why many have chosen to pursue postgraduate qualifications to improve their chances in the work environment.”

This sentiment was echoed by Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO at GMAC, who said: “This year is like none other when observing and analyzing trends associated with applications to business school. While the environment has certainly been challenging for schools and candidates since the outset of COVID-19, one constant is the countercyclical nature of demand for an advanced business degree.

“The opportunity cost of leaving a job to pursue an MBA or business master’s lessens as economies begin to regress, as a result we are now seeing more people thinking about b-school to grow or improve their career prospects.”

Adopt holistic and flexible methods

Given the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and the increasing demand for postgraduate business degrees, Dessy believes b-schools need to adopt a holistic, flexible approach – including remote teaching and student support offerings – to learning if they want to help graduates succeed.

She said: “I hope business schools will spend some time reflecting on the lessons learned from the pandemic and take forward the positive developments around flexibility of learning, technology solutions and future models of learning and working.

“I hope they combine that with the traditions business education has established around pastoral care, embracing developments such as learning analytics tools that will help create a more holistic view of the student experience. I hope business schools also adopt a culture of proactiveness that will allow them to be one step ahead of changes and expectations of the students.”

In-person interaction as the final goal

Despite successful transitions to online education at many b-schools around the world, school representatives and students still believe the industry should strive to return to in-person activities – especially as vaccination rollouts continue to be implemented across regions.

Dessy said: “We must not forget that part of the experience of being in a university or b-school program is the networking with fellow students. Some of the life-long relationships we form are from the educational years and they can be harder to forge through online interactions.”

Vyom, an international Master’s in Management student at NEOMA Business School, added: “NEOMA has been very supportive during the pandemic, and we are lucky that vaccines have finally become available. In the long run, I definitely think it will be crucial for international students to go abroad without so much uncertainty and doubts.

“Ultimately, I hope I will be able to attend classes in-person by the end of the year. I want to meet, interact, learn and have cultural exchanges with my classmates.”

This article was originally published in February 2021 . It was last updated in October 2021

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Written by

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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