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            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

            Why You’ll Be Liquid Learning On Your MBA After COVID-19

            International students make up around 95% of IE Business School's MBA class. While that's great for class diversity and the intercultural learning that's the lure for so many business school applicants, it's less great when a global pandemic restricts international travel and leaves many students scattered around the world. 

            COVID-19 posed a huge new challenge to the school: How do you deliver an on campus MBA education when half your students aren't in the classroom?

            The answer is liquid learning. IE University launched a new teaching model midway through 2020. Based on cutting-edge edtech and driven by innovative faculty members, the evidence-based education method develops students' skills, expertise, and mindset, by blending virtual and in-person teaching. 

            Now the model is here to stay.

            Using EdTech to survive COVID-19

            IE had to act quickly to serve its international student population. Liquid learning was created to allow all students the same immersive experience, no matter where they are in the world, or at what time they are studying.

            Lessons can be delivered asynchronously and synchronously; at home, in-person, or both.  IE also provides a mixture of curricular and extracurricular activities to all students. The idea is that you can fluidly move from one learning state to another, hence the term liquid. 

            The system uses a variety of cutting-edge education technologies. The school upgraded cameras and microphones in classrooms to make the remote experience as seamless as possible. Now, remote students are shown on a large screen within the classroom—as if they were there in person—and the school has even used virtual reality to bring remote students into class.   

            With students able to attend class at the same time, they can interact and talk with professors as if they were in the classroom together. One of the core principles of liquid learning is collaboration, and students are encouraged to work together in groups no matter where they are in the world. 

            IE Business School also recently announced plans for a new Liquid Learning Center. The center will continue the work that began when the school adapted to survive as the coronavirus pandemic swept aside traditional on-campus higher education.

            “It gives us so much more flexibility for learning in different ways,” says Paula Robles, executive director of MBA programs at IE. 

            Incorporating edtech into the learning experience has proved successful, and now as IE plans for life after the pandemic, the school has decided to continue liquid learning and develop the sophistication of the experience. 

            “Since we have technology that enables us to do things in better ways, we will use it,” says Paula.  

            Why liquid learning is the future of business education

            Remote learning became more sophisticated during the pandemic. Investment in edtech grew as high as $12 billion in 2020, and IE believes the days of learning entirely in-person are gone. 

            The school does offer an online MBA program, which has been ranked second in the Financial Times Global Online MBA rankings since 2018, but it feels a liquid approach utilising the lates edtech is more appropriate for the current climate. 

            Investors are clearly aware of the growing trend in education technologies. In the US, edtech ventures raised $803 million in funding during 2020, while in India the figure was almost double at $1.4 billion. By 2025, the rising global market for edtech is expected to reach $181.3 billion, bringing with it a wave of innovative new teaching methods.

            “I expect that 50% of all executive education programs will be online or blended,” says Nick van Dam (pictured below), chief learning officer and chair of IE Univesity's center for liquid learning

            With remote working a prominent part of the curriculum, the in-person experience will still be needed for things like networking, informal connections, and culture building, Nick says.

            He compares a blended approach to learning with the differing experiences of attending a sports or music event online and in-person. Both offer their own benefits which suit certain individuals more than others. 

            “Online is often more convenient and lower cost. Still, many people prefer going to a concert hall or soccer stadium. Why? It’s all about the experience,” says Nick.

            Taking Liquid Learning global 

            IE plans to expand liquid learning to become an entirely new educational discipline by embracing edtech and adopting new technologies as soon as they emerge. 

            As edtech develops, all universities will have to go through a change, Nick believes. The Liquid Learning Center will be the driving force behind IE's journey through that change. 

            “Huge innovations are ahead of us in terms of platform and content,” he says. “IE’s vision is to continue to advance its learning technology architecture—adopting a ‘plug and play’ approach.”

            As the school innovates, adopts new technologies, and further develops the student experience, the new center for liquid learning will showcase the journey, giving examples of how IE is adopting new technologies, as well as hosting conferences and webinars around the new teaching method.

            Educational resources and research into liquid learning will be freely available to all, and the center will also provide access to scientists working on the discipline. 

            IE hopes the center will promote the discipline beyond the school and create a global community around it, helping the school drive a new form of education and cement the liquid MBA model as a permanent part of the school's educational offering. 

            “We are doing this because we believe that knowledge and best practises sharing is part of our purpose and role in society,” says Nick.  

            Can Green Finance Spark COVID-19 Recovery?

            Green finance—any financial activity designed to generate a climate-friendly outcome—could be the best way to recover from this pandemic and protect our planet.

            Jennifer Oetzel, professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business, educates future business leaders in green finance concepts like the green economy and ethical management.

            She focuses on financial risk in crisis situations and how companies can mitigate business risk while promoting peace in the countries where they operate.

            For Jennifer, green investing and green lending, which have environmental criteria for how funds are used, could be the key to a sustainable long-term recovery from COVID-19 that takes into account the economy, environment, and social implications.

            BusinessBecause spoke to Jennifer, who told us three ways green finance initiatives could help us bounce back from COVID-19.

            1. Green finance sparks economic growth

            Since the start of the pandemic, green investments have been performing better than their non-green counterparts. 

            Green bonds—investments that support climate and environmental projects—were responsible for almost 17% of all capital flow in 2020 despite representing just 2% of the total bond market. 

            These sustainable green investments could trigger wider economic growth, which would support the global economy as it recovers from the impact of coronavirus, creating new opportunities for employment, upskilling, and mobility, Jennifer notes. 

            “COVID has revealed so many social problems and, at the same time, there has been so much interest in green lending in particular,” Jennifer reflects. “In times of crisis, like recessions and pandemics, green finance does not drop in revenue in the same way many financial instruments do.” 

            2. Global collaboration

            As green finance grows as a movement, countries and corporations are coming together to work toward similar overarching goals.

            The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is just one organization that wants to see greater efforts to combat the long-term financial risks of both coronavirus and the effects of climate change.

            “The SEC is forcing banks to declare their climate risk so that the broader risk in their portfolio is clear,” says Jennifer. The SEC also monitors market functions and risks in relation to COVID-19 so that it can provide targeted regulatory relief and guidance to those impacted.

            3. Greater support for social initiatives

            Green finance also encourages investment in renewable energy and climate risk mitigation, which in turn helps address important social issues, including the consequences of COVID-19.

            With greater investment in sustainable business initiatives like green power and recycling, Jennifer predicts there could be greater employment and, therefore, broader economic prosperity.

            This will likely have a positive impact for communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, such as communities of color, those on the poverty line, and those in poor health. Since climate change also disproportionately impacts poorer communities, sustainability and social wellbeing go hand-in-hand.

            “Environmental change can have a huge impact on social wellbeing and health, so even if someone is just interested in green financing, they are still helping people beyond that,” Jennifer notes.

            Business Schools like Kogod are playing a key role in developing future green finance leaders to spearhead these initiatives.

            Kogod’s MS in Sustainability Management equips students with the tools they need to solve organizational problems in their environmental context and produce ecologically and socially responsible solutions.

            Kogod’s Master's in Finance program also gives students a firm grounding in global emerging markets and investment analysis, which is valuable for students interested in the role of green finance in economic recovery.

            With a sustainable and green finance approach, Jennifer says, businesses and the wider economy can recover from COVID-19.

            Why Now Is The Perfect Time For An Online MBA

            Even before the COVID-19 crisis, Online MBA programs were growing in popularity. Since the pandemic, the attractiveness of the Online MBA has only increased.

            First, consider the key reasons why one might seek an MBA. You might want or need to learn new hard skills, like digital marketing, or softer skills, like leadership or management. 

            You may want to build your network, signal your qualifications for the rest of your career, learn about and potentially switch careers, or progress in your current job. Maybe you want to experiment with or build a business. All of that can be done via an online MBA program.

            In our BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2021, we tell you everything you need to know about applying for an online MBA and list our best online MBA programs for 2021. We guide you through what you need to consider when choosing a program, and what materials you’ll need to pull together to apply.

            So why is now the perfect time to pursue an online MBA?

            Download the BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2021

            Online MBA vs Full-Time MBA

            If your goal is to learn new hard skills, like accounting, finance, or marketing, there is not a large difference between an online MBA and a traditional MBA. What you learn in the University of Illinois’s iMBA and in its traditional MBA, for example, will be similar. The instructors will often be the same people. If your goal is to advance within your current organization, an online MBA will serve you just as well as a full-time MBA.

            Now, some activities, like learning about new careers or building a business or networking (perhaps the best example), can be done virtually, although one could argue that the in-person experience associated with meeting new people is superior. But even then, you can find MBA programs explicitly billed as ‘Hybrid’, such as the one offered by UCLA, to get a mixture of in-person and online instruction and engagement. 

            The only major gap between an online MBA relative to a traditional MBA relates to the internship between the first and second year that is offered by traditional full-time MBA programs in the United States. This is a powerful feature, particularly for those targeting specific competitive industries to swich into, such as investment banking or consulting. 

            No more Online MBA stigma

            You might think that an evening or weekend or online MBA program ‘isn’t as good’ as a full-time traditional MBA program. But at the end of the day, the brand associated with the program is what is going to matter from a signalling perspective. 

            With so much of life having shifted to the internet for a full year, people are increasingly comfortable with the quality of online experiences. Consider what it was like to try to learn virtually 5-to-10 years ago versus now with the advent of Zoom. And consider the average person’s openness to communicating virtually 12 months ago versus now. 

            We are at a point in our society where online and in-person is blending and mixing. In that sense, now is the right time to jump into an online MBA—your study experience mimics the reality of the modern day workplace.

            Impact of COVID-19

            In May of 2021, things are looking up in the US. People are vaccinated in increasingly large numbers, and the economy is reopening. That said, this isn’t the case across the globe. India and parts of Europe have seen a resurgence of the coronavirus. And it will probably take some time before things truly go back to normal. 

            If you attend a full-time program, move to a new city, and settle down for an in-person experience, and someone tests positive, what then? Even if 75% of your class is vaccinated, classes will likely be affected. You may go virtual. This will be disruptive. 

            We may be at a point where for another year at least, an online MBA is more attractive because people still can’t fully realize the benefits of traditional full-time MBA program due to COVID-19.

            Cost & Opportunity Cost

            Another obvious benefit of an online MBA is that you can keep working while you study. If you make $100K a year and choose an online MBA over a traditional one, you are $200K richer two years later because you’ve been making money for two years. 

            Direct costs also tend to be very different. USC Marshall’s Online MBA costs $112K in total. The school’s full-time MBA costs around $187K in total once you consider living expenses. That’s another $75K in savings from an online MBA. 

            If you are dead set on USC-Marshall and considering an online versus a traditional MBA and you make $100K today, the total cost of choosing the traditional MBA format is $200K + $75K = $275K higher.

            All things considered, now is the perfect time to consider an online MBA:

            - On many dimensions related to what you learn in the classroom, there is no significant difference between traditional and online.

            - The value of the brand your MBA represents is not affected by an online versus in-person choice.

            - People are increasingly comfortable working and learning online.

            - COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty that makes an online approach relatively more attractive.

            - The online MBA continues to be less expensive than the traditional MBA.

            If you’re considering an online MBA, download our free BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2021.

            Next Read:

            Download the BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2021

            Indian MBA Applicants Face Uncertainty Amid COVID-19 Surge

            Admissions experts expect to see a drop in applications from India to international MBA programs in Round 1 of 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the country.

            With many countries banning travel from India, and families dealing with the personal tragedy of the pandemic, applicants from India face uncertainty.

            Even admitted students from India are reconsidering their options. Manish Gupta, a leading MBA admissions consultant and chief consulting officer at MBA Crystal Ball notes that admitted students have had to deal with mixed feelings. 

            “As schools the world over gear up for the next session, things are still quite unclear. The trend of students deferring remains a distinct one, as we witnessed in the last cycle,” he says.

            However, amid the uncertainty, there is support on offer for Indian MBA applicants.

            Support for MBA applicants

            After deaths caused by coronavirus in India reached several thousand per day, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of business schools and administrator of the GMAT Exam, released a statement in support of Indian business school candidates.

            GMAC is taking steps to protect our colleagues, their families and the candidate community. To ensure there are no disruptions to candidates’ pursuit of their graduate management education goals, we have implemented a range of precautionary measures. 

            Safety is the primary concern at our testing centers, and testing center staff are following enhanced health and safety protocols.

            Most business schools require MBA applicants to submit a GMAT score. Since the launch of the GMAT Online Exam, MBA applicants in India can also take the test from home.

            Given the situation, admissions consultants are suggesting Indian MBA candidates consider deferring their studies until 2022. “The world, as we all hope eagerly, is likely to be a much better place than what it currently is, a year out,” says Manish.

            Barbara Coward, founder of 360 MBA Admissions, says candidates should put their personal lives first.

            “Admissions staff familiar with operating under uncertainty so my advice is to keep the lines of communication open with the admissions office and update on your status if/as it changes,” she says.

            Read: 9 Coursera Courses To Do Before Your MBA

            MBA Students Fight COVID-19

            The severity of the situation is not lost on admissions consultant and former MBA student Sam Weeks. He’s working with an Indian MBA applicant who moved back from Europe to India to care for his mother after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

            “He had signed up for a full 3-school application package with me, intending to apply to top European business schools in Round 1, 2021, but paused everything to travel back to India to take care of her. She’s on oxygen and struggling for her life,” he says.

            As the pandemic devastates India, hundreds of incoming MBAs, together with some current MBA students and alumni from top schools, have banded together to help, launching Students Fight Covid.

            They are offering their expertise in exchange for donations to Covid Relief agencies. Aspiring MBA students can share the receipt of their donation and then book consultations for resume and testing guidance, general essay and MBA application advice, and career coaching.

            “There’s a big gap in demand and supply of medical equipment [in India]. A lot of organizations are working to bridge that gap, so we thought we could use our expertise to enable those organizations while helping other future applicants in the process,” says Shrey Malpani, one of the founders of the COVID-19 relief initiative.

            Students Fight COVID was started by seven incoming Wharton MBAs and has spread to over 260 admits from top b-schools across three continents, including Kellogg School of Management, the Indian School of Business, NYU Stern, Columbia Business School, Oxford Saïd Business School, INSEAD, and Harvard Business School.

            Over 200 mentees have benefited from the program and $15,000 has been raised to date.

            “If we are able to get this going on a large scale, we could mobilize funds on a larger scale than each of us can do individually—that’s the main goal; to make a significant impact on the ground,” says co-founder Tarang Gupta.

            Next Read:

            MBA Students Get Strong Return On Investment Despite COVID-19