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INSEAD, LBS, Bocconi & 8 More Top Business Schools On The Impact Of COVID-19

How has COVID-19 changed the b-school experience for business masters students? We speak to admissions directors from Europe’s top business schools to find out

Fri Nov 20 2020

As Europe adapts to the impact of COVID-19, some business master’s courses have moved online, while others have adopted hybrid models combining online and socially-distanced face-to-face learning.

When researching the best business master’s for you, you’ll want to know what the pandemic means for the programs you’ve got your eye on. How are students currently studying and how has coronavirus impacted the business school experience?

To find out, BusinessBecause caught up with admissions directors from 11 top European schools:


Virginie Fougea, Global Director of Admissions and Financial Aid and Scholarship.


While we have the tools and the experience to make a seamless shift to online instruction, we understand learning as a social process, and our students have told us their preference is being on-campus. 

So, we’ve worked with our Student Council to resume in-person education wherever and whenever possible.

Students are now on campus in Singapore, but in France we’re back online due to their second lockdown. 

We’ll staying online until we can ensure the safety of our students and are looking into hybrid model for the future. 

London Business School 

Stephanie Thrane, Recruitment & Admissions Director

A big change is to recruitment and admissions, with our normal face to face interviews going online, which has been an advantage for international students. Going remote has also made us utilise our alumni network much better and broaden our global reach, and we’ve been able to host speakers online who would never have been able to fly into London normally. 

Course-wise we’ve gone hybrid, for the flexibility. It’s been a huge shift, but as a small school, and with lots of effort and investment in advanced technology, it’s been really successful so far.

Bocconi University

Veronica Sullo, International Recruitment Coordinator

72% of our international students decided to come to Milan for their master’s programs this fall, and we believe the on-campus experience is the most enriching way to learn. 

We successfully ran blended model in place, with on-campus students working in small groups and rotating between online and in-class teaching, and students outside of Milan joining online. 

From late October we felt it was safest to go online fully, but with our careful planning and access to regular testing we’re reassured we can return to our blended model soon. Until then we’re making the remote experience as interactive as possible, with careers events, mock interviews and networking opportunities all going online.  

Imperial College Business School

Amy Duckworth, Director of Admissions

At Imperial we’ve introduced a ‘multi-mode’ teaching model, so students have the flexibility to move between on-campus and remote learning. 

Study spaces have been redesigned so students can participate in class debates and discussion, whether joining remotely or in person. 

In 2005 Imperial launched an Edtech lab to explore how to increase the use of techonology in the classroom, and this has been instrumental to ensuring our proactive, safe, and flexible approach. 

ESCP Business School


Leon Laulusa, Executive Vice-President, Dean for Academic Affairs and International Relations 

ESCP is running a hybrid model for all teaching and support services.

We’re now offering asynchronous lectures, live broadcasting, and tutoring sessions for application alongside some in person learning where possible. 

Our students have adapted remarkably to moving online, participating in class discussions, and group projects, even taking online exams. A big plus is being able to re-watch all their courses when revising. 

BI Norwegian Business School

Shani Pearson, International Recruitment

The biggest change to student experience at BI is that classes must be followed online. We’re hoping to start teaching on campus in the spring semester 2021, but we’re preparing for a hybrid or fully online alternative just in case. 

Students still have access to the campus, including the library, but realistically there are fewer in person social and professional development activities as a result of COVID-19. 


Hannah Page, Marketing & Admissions Manager

WHU initially adopted a hybrid approach, but later went fully online due to the German lockdown. 

Luckily we formed a center of digitization a few years ago, so it wasn’t all new, and our professors have adapted quickly to this new style of teaching with online lectures. We also moved careers fairs and information sessions online, to recreate the feeling of our cancelled in-person events. 

Long-term, we don’t want stay a fully-online program, as the highlight of our MSC is the on-campus experience, with all the connections and networking that it brings.   

Rotterdam School of Management  f3c85c9a8d1962f786cf73a88a422d03d81b0245.jpg

Amy Janssen-Brennan, assistant director Recruitment & Admissions

RSM has decided that all of our MSc programmes for the 2020-2021 academic year will be offered 100% online, to ensure the safety of both our staff and students, especially international students. 

We’ve managed to switch quickly from in-person to online and got a lot of positive feedback from our students so far.

IESE Business School

Tomofumi Nishida, Associate Director, MBA/MiM Admissions and MBA Career Development Center 

IESE one of the few schools in the world still implementing in-person classes for vast majority of Master’s students, on our Madrid campus. 

We’re offering a hybrid model for flexibility, but we know with face to face is best due to our focus on interactive discussion. 

To ensure safety, we have a number of measures inplace, including testing and social distancing. 

Other parts of the master’s experience, such as Spanish classes, and networking events, have been much better suited to going online than the teaching, so we’ve focussed on that too. 

ESMT Berlin

Boban Sulic, Senior Admissions Manager

Since the restrictions in the fall, most of our events have been entirely online, but this has not negatively affected us. 

We not only welcomed the largest master’s class at ESMT amidst pandemic, but we also just launched our new part-time blended MBA to great success.

In 2021, we hope to offer as much in-classroom teaching as possible, but will adjust according to the developing situation.

ESSEC Business School

Anne-Flore Maman Larraufie, Academic Director Advanced Masters in Strategy & Management of International Business

At ESSEC, we see online teaching as an opportunity to reinvent the learning experience. Teaching has become more interactive, with fewer case studies and more online projects based on discussion and collaboration. Another plus is there is no limit to our class numbers now, so students have the chance to attend more courses. 

The main downside not being able to travel to other campuses or go on business trips, we’ve had to think hard about how to recreate the international experience from home.