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.

Coronavirus: How To Manage Your Business In A Time Of Crisis

The current coronavirus pandemic has caused one of the most turbulent economic climates in decades. By mid-March, the Dow Jones had fallen 19 points and the FTSE has fallen 33 points. 

The crisis has already seen the collapse of commercial airline Flybe, while other large corporations seem on the brink of collapse. The biggest impact, it’s believed, will be on small-to-medium enterprises.

“When you have any kind of company, you have a risk,” explains Stella Despoudi, professor in operations and supply chain management at Aston Business School. 

It may have been hard to foresee the impact that coronavirus would have, failure, in these times of crisis, often comes down to lack of preparation. 

Here are some top tips on how best to prepare for a crisis:


1. Identify warning signals


It’s easy to spot crises when they’ve already happened. Whether these are financial crashes, cybersecurity attacks, or even natural disasters, hindsight is useful at seeing the full impact. 

But what’s not so easy is being able to predict how widespread or impactful the disaster will be in the first instance. Not every crisis will be catastrophic, but it’s equally important to treat each potential threat as though it may unfold into a disaster. 

“Companies need to constantly monitor internal and external signals to promote early detection of the signs of a crisis, and deal with it before it emerges,” insists Pavel Albores, director of the Centre for Research into Safety and Security (CRISIS) at Aston Business School. 

CRISIS conducts sophisticated research into why crises and disasters happen, and how to respond to them. Part of this is multi-disciplinary, multimethodology analysis of safety and security issues, including what early warning signals might indicate a crisis. 

Aston aims to impart this knowledge to students this fall, launching their new MSc in Crisis and Disaster Management, a response to the demand from businesses to have better trained professionals who are able to coordinate their response to disasters.  


2. Assess the threat to your business


Hundreds of crises—small or large—happen every single day. But not every one will affect your business. It’s important that companies take the time to consider the impact that a crisis will have on their three Ps—products, people, and processes. 

“In terms of products, it could be product or service failures, misuse, or damage to the consumers,” Pavel explains. 

“In terms of people, it could be unethical behaviour, industrial action or lack of training.”  

“In terms of processes, there could be disruptions to the supply chain, whether by natural or manmade causes, financial crises or overdependence on one customer or supplier.” 

This can demonstrate to businesses different steps they can take to shield their company, such as diversifying their supply chain to ensure they aren’t over reliant on a single geographic location.  


3. Create a crisis management plan 


You’ve identified what the various early warning signals, and you’ve identified what the potential risk might be to your business, but what next? 

Businesses have to create crisis management or contingency plan, so they know the effective steps to take in order to shield their business from a crisis. This is the most important step, Pavel believes, to weathering a disaster. 

The MSc is designed to give students the tools to build a crisis management plan at a business. This incorporates modules on decision-making, ethics in a crisis, and crisis technology and analytics, to ensure that students have a variety of perspectives and information for the plans they are building. 

There are some important lessons to be learned from the coronavirus outbreak with regards to what a plan should aim to do. 

“Plans need to be based around developing skills and behaviours to deal with a crisis, rather than focusing on a single, narrow scenario. The COVID-19 crisis is probably something that very few people would have predicted, let alone plan for,” Pavel insists. 


4. Practice implementing the plan


Practicing your plan is just as important as having it in the first place. 

“Organisations that have a crisis management plan and practice it regularly are better prepared to respond to disasters,” Pavel insists. 

Aston students can use simulation modelling software to recreate how disasters unfold, and how they can properly implement a crisis management plan  in practice. It’s the perfect opportunity to see the impact of decision making, without the risk of doing it in reality. 

More than anything, these simulations can teach students an important lesson about how to respond. 

“Decisions need to be taken in a calm, measured manner,” Pavel says. 


The MSc in crisis and disaster management is a response to a growing demand from a variety of sectors, including businesses, non-profits, and even governmental organizations. 

Overall, it hopes to cater to this demand from organizations to be better prepared in times of crisis. 

“This plans to equip the right people with the skills and competencies that they need to respond to this kind of event,” Stella insists.  

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.


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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. 

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