Live Updates: Coronavirus Impact On Business Schools

What is the impact of coronavirus on business schools? We bring you the latest updates including campus closures, changes to MBA admission requirements, and more


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Wharton Launches Coronavirus Course

Coronavirus (or COVID-19) has swept the world since emerging in Wuhan, China. It has hit business schools hard, and closures have forced institutions into crisis management mode. Now, the Wharton School has launched a new online coronavirus course, detailing the impact and implications of the pandemic.

Coronavirus course

The Wharton School’s course, Epidemics, Natural Disasters, and Geopolitics: Managing Global Business and Financial Uncertainty, teaches students in real-time how global business and financial uncertainty can be managed in the wake of such dramatic events. 

The six-week, half-credit course is available to all University of Pennsylvania degree-seeking students and goes live on March 25th.

The online course follows the move to take the rest of the school’s curriculum online—a decision mimicked by business schools around the world in an attempt to limit the effects of the virus.

Wharton dean, Geoff Garrett, in a press release from the school, says that ‘there are significant business lessons to be learned from the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, and Wharton is at the forefront of sharing valuable insights and creating a community to exchange ideas.’

'This is a teachable moment for the global academic community,’ he adds, ‘and this course is just one example of how Wharton is coming together to provide support during a time of heightened anxiety and ambiguity.’

Lessons from the course cover leading amid unpredictable, rapidly changing events with contested facts, the financial markets’ reactions to coronavirus, and emotional contagion and epidemics.

How are business schools responding to coronavirus?

Schools are scrambling to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread to over 100 countries and killed more than 8,000 people to date. Schools like China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and MIP Politecnico di Milano have moved the MBA courses online.

London Business School launched a webinar series on March 18th that looks at how you can lead through uncertainty. It’s hosted by Julian Birkinshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the school. Webinars are broadcast twice per week and will include faculty experts commenting on the most pressing topics the world faces today.

Aston Business School this fall is launching a new MSc in Crisis and Disaster Management, a response to growing demand from businesses to have better equipped professionals who are able to adapt and coordinate their response to disasters.  

Meanwhile, online education platform, Coursera, is offering schools Coursera for Campus, globally, at no cost to any university impacted by COVID-19. It’s an attempt to help schools take their learning online during this time of crisis.

It gives schools impacted by the virus access to 3,800 courses and 400 specializations from some of the world’s leading institutions. Up to 5,000 licenses are being given by Coursera for enrolled students at any organization impacted.

Universities can enrol students in courses through to July 31st, 2020 and students can complete courses up until September 30th, with month-to-month extensions available dependent on need.

How will coronavirus impact your business school application?

Coronavirus and the GMAT 

As schools have closed worldwide and countries have introduced social distancing and isolation measures, GMAT and GRE test centers have also been heavily impacted.

BusinessBecause will be providing live coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on GMAT and GRE test takers throughout the crisis.

As the global community grapples with the impact of the virus on daily life, it’s a huge test for the way we work in the 21st century. The global workforce has rapidly shifted online in response, and it’s the biggest challenge yet to have faced the digital economy. 

To live up to the promise of a seamlessly digitized world, technology must hold its own. Wharton's coronavirus course is a sign of one school ahead of the curve.

INSEAD Dean Tests Positive For COVID-19, But Students Are Fighting Back

Coronavirus is impacting business schools globally. Now, Ilian Mihov, dean of INSEAD, has tested positive for COVID-19. The dean is currently in isolation at a hospital in Singapore and all those who have been in close contact with him have been put on a mandatory leave of absence. 

A statement from INSEAD released on March 15th reads:

Mihov is in a stable condition and in good spirits. In his absence, Deputy Dean and Dean of Innovation, Peter Zemsky, will be acting Dean.   

Mihov was last present on the INSEAD Asia Campus on 9 March before travelling to France. He was on the Europe Campus in Fontainebleau until 12 March. He travelled back from France to Singapore on Friday, 13 March.  

On Saturday, 14 March, Mihov began experiencing mild symptoms and immediately went for testing at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore. Today, a nasal swab test came back positive for COVID-19.  

As the dean had last been on INSEAD’s Asia Campus on Monday, 9 March, the facility will remain open as per the school’s business continuity plan. However, no teaching will be taking place.

The school says the areas the dean worked in prior to his diagnosis have been disinfected, including his office, the wider dean’s office and common areas, meeting rooms, pantry and toilets, and other areas he visited such as the INSEAD restaurant and coffee bar.

Ilian Mihov, dean of INSEAD, has tested positive for COVID-19

Ilian Mihov, dean of INSEAD, has tested positive for COVID-19 but is in good spirits in hospital. ©RICHARD DAVIES 2016

INSEAD suffers from coronavirus

INSEAD’s global campuses have been severely impacted by the spread of coronavirus. INSEAD’s Europe campus, in France, is closed from March 16th in compliance with local regulations, with students working remotely.

The INSEAD Middle East Campus has suspended all on-and off-campus events and teaching activities since Sunday, 8 March, for four weeks. 

Mandatory temperature checks and split team working arrangements are already in place on INSEAD’s Asia Campus and at the INSEAD San Francisco Hub for Business Innovation, which the dean only recently opened. 

Cross-campus travel has been suspended and travel for all INSEAD employees is cancelled until the end of April. 

Positive news from INSEAD 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there is some positive news for INSEAD. A group of former INSEAD students from China have founded Project GreenCross to lead the fight against COVID-19.

Using INSEAD’s global alumni network, the project has been raising funds, sourcing medical supplies, and mobilizing expertise in all industries to bring medical supplies to frontline medical workers in Hubei and other regions impacted by COVID-19.

Now that the situation in China is improving, the project has shifted its focus to Italy and Iran.

In a letter to INSEAD alumni written before he tested positive for COVID-19, dean Ilian Mihov praised the alumni’s efforts. He wrote:

This is the time to show what we stand for: it is one world, one community. We have an amazing, unparalleled network. 

We, as The Business School for the World, will work with the INSEAD Alumni Association, the National Alumni Associations and the Project GreenCross team to leverage the collective knowledge and power of the alumni network to fight this epidemic, to make a difference in someone’s life.

Coronavirus impacts business schools

INSEAD is not the only business school directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Business schools across the world are closed and moving learning online. GMAT test taking has also been disrupted and many test centers closed.

Read our latest updates on Coronavirus:

LIVE: Coronavirus Impact On GMAT Testing

How Coronavirus Is Affecting MBA Students

Chinese Business School Contributes $573 Million To Combat Coronavirus

How Coronavirus Is Affecting MBA Students

Margherita Nostro was only supposed to be home in Italy for Chinese New Year, but after the coronavirus (or Covid-19) outbreak hit and business schools in China closed, her plans to fly back to Shanghai were scuppered. 

The current MBA student at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) has been in Italy—the worst hit country in Europe—since January 21st. Then, the virus was restricted to China, and quarantine and mask wearing had not yet become the norm. 

CEIBS got in touch with its students at the end of January, when the situation was beginning to get out of hand. They were told to postpone their travel back to Shanghai and to await further news. 

It was then that the virus began to take hold outside China. There was not much Margherita could do, apart from stay put. CEIBS contacted students and informed them all classes would be delivered online from the start of February, using Zoom technology.

Taking the MBA Online

Margherita explains that she first took some trial classes online, and when her and her classmates didn’t encounter any technological issues, the new online MBA timetable was confirmed. 

It’s one of the ways business schools are being impacted by coronavirus and having to adapt to ensure students don’t miss out on their MBA education. They log in to Zoom, and all classes are streamed live.

Margherita says it’s made her think a lot about her future career, and how many meetings can be shifted online. Technological innovation has meant virtual meetings can be run as smoothly as if you were meeting face-to-face. 

But one thing she credits to the smoothness of the transition is the relationships she has built with her MBA peers on campus since the start of the degree. 

“We have built something between us and now when we interact online it’s good because we already have established personal relationships,” she explains. 

She thinks that you would miss out on building those relationships on a wholly online MBA. At the moment she says she’s experienced a good balance between on campus and virtual learning—it’s taught her the importance of building relationships face-to-face. 

What is the situation like in Venice?

Margherita lives 30km outside of the center of Venice. She isn’t in one of the designated red zones, but with the whole of the country in effective lock down, she says she is resigned to her apartment and the surrounding area. 

Most commercial activities have been stopped, though supermarkets and pharmacies remain open. Gyms and swimming pools have been closed too, and Margherita says she is kept busy by CEIBS’ efforts to keep classes running.

Her advice to other MBAs in a similar situation is to remain positive and collaborate. 

“This is the most important thing,” she says. “We’re here to work together and collaborate. Everyone is doing his or her best, not only students but all the admin staff and all the professors. 

“I think we should act as a collective team, a community, and this should be the rule for all the other business schools and institutions around the world.” 

How are other business schools coping?

Schools in Europe have been impacted in the same way—students from MIP Politecnico di Milano have been forced to stay at home. Activities planned for face-to-face interaction have also been moved online.

It’s a good test of business schools’ ability to adapt to the demands of the digital age. A refined online system for delivery of the MBA is a must for any business school taking themselves seriously in 2020. 

But the hope is that the impact of coronavirus will subside in the coming months. As good as it is to be able to deliver courses online in the interim, students who’ve paid for the full-time course experience want to get back to campus.

They want to take advantage of networking opportunities, international trips, and consulting projects abroad—all of which have been restricted since the virus outbreak.

On the flipside, in the coming application cycle, online programs may benefit from an increase in applications, as students seek safety alongside other advantages of online learning like flexibility and cost the programs offer. 

Coronavirus: Chinese Business School Contributes $573 Million To Relief Effort

Since the first case emerged in December 2019, the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan has had a profound impact in China and beyond. 

The virus, officially known as COVID-19, has quickly spread from its point of origin to affect 76 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Efforts to prevent the virus from spreading came quickly, with the closure of schools and universities across China from the beginning of February 2020. The country’s top business schools have also closed their doors, and are expected to remain shut until at least the end of March. 

Chinese business school shows its support

Despite these closures, schools are doing everything they can to minimize disruption for their students. At the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), for instance, students are being offered online classes while staff work from home, so they can keep up with their studies. 

The CKGSB community has also been instrumental in tackling the worst effects of the virus. 

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented significant challenges to both China and the global community,” explains a CKGSB spokesperson. “But the CKGSB community has come together to provide and gather support for those affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.”

To date, CKGSB’s student and alumni community has been able to raise a total of over $573 million in cash donations and goods. 

Most of these donations come from companies headed by CKGSB alumni—50% of whom are CEOs or chairpeople. 

In fact, the school’s alumni network represents 25% of China’s most valuable brands, including 60 of Fortune China’s top 500 list. 

Along with cash, donations from these alumni include four million masks and five million pairs of medical-grade gloves. 

CKGSB’s Hubei Alumni Association have been especially prominent in this area, purchasing $1.2 million worth of masks, goggles, and protective suits to help prevent the virus’ spread in Hubei province, where it originated.

In Wuhan itself, the city where the first case of coronavirus was identified, another CKGSB alumna has managed to provide 400 beds for patients with coronavirus symptoms in Yaxin Hospital, which she oversees.

In response to these significant donations, CKGSB’s founding dean, Xiang Bing, has expressed his support in a letter to the school-wide community. 

“I’m extremely proud to see the CKGSB community coming together in recent weeks to provide support through donations big and small,” he says.

Coronavirus relief effort: CKGSB

The impact of coronavirus

Along with these relief efforts, the CKGSB community has also been at the forefront of research into the economic and social impact of the virus—and how this can be reduced. 

“Our professors will continue to release data and analyses in the coming weeks,” Xiang explains. 

CKGSB professors Ouyang Hui and Ye Dongyan have already released an analysis of the outbreak’s impact on the Chinese economy, and some economic predictions for the recovery process.

“COVID-19 will have a greater impact than SARS [did in 2003], and recovery will likely take longer,” they suggest.

This is partly because China is still dealing with the fallout of its recent tariff war with the US, meaning that profits from exports are down. Back in 2003, exports helped China to recover from the impact of SARS quickly, but the economic recovery from coronavirus could be slower, Ouyang and Ye believe. 

To help minimize the effects of the coronavirus disease on China’s economic outlook, they recommend quick action. “The government should urgently reduce taxes and expand investment in infrastructure, scientific research, environmental protection and healthcare,” they advise.

The outlook

Outside assistance could also be part of the solution. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently made $50 billion available to support emerging economies through the crisis. This fund is designed to help member countries finance public health initiatives on the front-line. 

The IMF are confident that the virus will eventually retreat, allowing economic recovery in both China and the world at large to begin. 

In the meantime, initiatives like those carried out by the CKGSB community will continue to limit the economic impact that coronavirus is having, and save lives.

“Fundamental to the core of CKGSB’s vision is to cultivate transformative business leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility,” Xiang explains.

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