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Business Schools Buy Into Oculus VR To Make Virtual Visits A Reality

Business schools are trialling augmented reality headsets with Oculus Rift to give prospective MBAs a taste of campus – without having to spend hundreds of dollars travelling to schools’ locations.

Tue Jul 15 2014

In a bid to bolster international student enrolment, business schools are trialling augmented reality headsets to give prospective MBAs a taste of campus – without having to spend hundreds of dollars travelling to schools’ locations.

MBA applicants weighing up several MBA choices will soon be able to assess schools’ physical offerings without attending the various applicant days which are now par for the course at the majority of business schools.

Audencia Nantes School of Management, the highly-ranked French business school, has revealed plans to invest in technology developed by Oculus VR, the virtual reality tech firm which was acquired by Facebook in a deal worth $2 billion.

The school plans to use the Oculus Rift Development Kit to turn virtual tours, already commonplace at universities, into virtual reality tours. Audencia Nantes will combine software developed by YouVisit, a company which offers virtual campus visiting services. YouVisit works with more than 500 universities, many of them based in the United States.

The French business school said in a statement: “Audencia Nantes is one of the first in the world to place its faith in [the] use of the Oculus Rift with YouVisit’s software. The success of the trail has convinced the school to invest in the technology for a fall recruitment campaign.”

Audencia Nantes claims a handful of other international business schools are planning to use Oculus Rift with YouVisit’s software.

Mark Dunn, senior assistant director of Yale University’s admissions office, confirmed that Yale, which operates one of the US’s best business schools, had discussed with YouVisit the possibility of implementing Oculus Rift technology in its recruitment efforts. Yale already operates a virtual tour, developed by YouVisit.

Abi Mandelbaum, YouVisit's CEO, revealed that many schools are waiting on new Oculus VR development kits. The sets will allow developers to build virtual reality experiences for consumers, in this case applicants.

The technology would solve a problem for US business schools, which have languished behind Europe’s international MBA student enrolment.

Virtual tours are one of a number of measures being implemented by US schools to boost international student engagement. Internet solutions, including virtual walking tours, are set to go mainstream. YouVisit’s partner schools report significant increases in online visitors from nearly 150 different countries.  

A study by Noel-Levitz, an enrolment consultancy firm, found that the cost of recruiting is about $460 per new student at four-year public institutions, and more than $2,400 per new student at the median at private colleges.

The Oculus Rift, a headset geared toward 3D gamers, has stunned the business world since its foundation with a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. It is hoped that the device, which costs $350, will help international students make better choices about which school to attend. MBA applicants are increasingly applying to multiple schools – many up to five.

Developing a campus tour with YouVisit can cost as little as $3,000 – but prices vary. Business schools can book a free web consultation.

The company said: “It is hard for college-bound students to figure out which campus is the best fit for them, and for those that are not able to visit all campuses physically, it’s even harder. is the only website where college-bound students can actually walk on college campuses, as if they were physically there.”