How would the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO), affect the MBA admission season and the classes?
Starting right from the GMAT exam schedules in the affected regions, it is also expected to disrupt, to a certain extent, admission schedule, classes and projects of full-time MBA programs across the world.
The GMAT exam remains cancelled or re-scheduled in China, Mongolia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Bahrain, Kuwait and Bethlehem.
GMAT Rescheduling Exams
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) that organises the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) said it was keeping a close watch on the situation.
According to the latest update on March 6, 2020, if you are in mainland China, Mongolia capital Ulan Bator and Daegu, South Korea, the testing are suspended through March 31. Appointments will be available from April 1.
In Seoul, the number of candidates in each testing centre is restricted to a maximum of 15 at a time.
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, testing remains suspended through April 30. Appointments will be available starting May 1. However, in Hong Kong, testing has resumed following the return of normalcy.
In Singapore, testing delivery partner Pearson VUE and building operators have instituted mandatory temperature checks. They will begin reviewing the travel history of test-takers on entry at testing centres.
Candidates who are found unwell, exhibiting symptoms, or report having travelled to China within 14 days before their appointment will be asked to reschedule their appointment. They will be offered a full refund.
In Trento, Italy, testing remains suspended through March 15. Appointments will be available from March 25. At Milan, testing remains suspended through April 3 and appointments will be available from April 6.
In Manama, Bahrain, testing remains suspended through March 11. Appointments will be available starting March 12. In Kuwait City, testing has been suspended through March 14 and appoints will be available from the next day.
In Sharjah, testing is suspended through April 5 and appointments will be available from April 6. In Bethlehem, the testing remains suspended until further notice.
GMAC said all those candidates whose appointments were cancelled will be provided a full refund of their test fees and any appointment reschedule and cancellation fees.
All such test-takers will be notified via email about their test appointment rescheduling or cancellation. “At this time, we request that you do not reschedule or cancel your appointment online,” GMAC said in a statement.
International Applicant Numbers May Fall
The spread of the virus is expected to result in a fall in the number of international applicants in Australia, China, Europe, Canada and the United States.
The closing or rescheduling of the GMAT test in China would especially affect B-schools in the west, depending on large application volumes from that country.
Those appearing for bachelor’s degree final exams in China may also not be able to stick to the schedule as the exams are likely to be postponed.
Classrooms May Go Online
While most of the MBA programs boast of online content, the B-schools are working towards providing more classroom activities through the internet. MIP Politecnico Di Milano is using FLEXA, a personalized continuous-learning platform and a digital mentor for students. Microsoft AI services power this platform that delivers personalized education recommendations to the next generation of executives and business decision-makers.
Similarly, ESCP Business School delivers lessons entirely online at its Turin campus. UCL School of management also proposes to make use of its online platform for creating a virtual classroom if the situation worsens.
Meanwhile, lectures using hologram professors will also get a boost. In November 2018, the Imperial College Business School, London had teamed up with five other member schools of the Future of Management Education Alliance, to deliver hologram lectures to bring a more interactive and classroom-like atmosphere to online programs.
(see: https://www.oneyearmba.co.in/one-year-mba-in-london-hologram-professors-to-deliver-mba-lectures-at-imperial-and-5-other-b-schools/ ).
The same technology could be used to tide over the situation in areas where the virus threat prevents the holding of live classes.
If Classes Go Online, What Happens to Fulltime Cohort?
Online classes may keep you academically up-to-date, but what happens to the networking and the numerous club and volunteering activities that you had signed up for in a real-life campus? Depending on the size of the crisis in your location, you may have to forgo some of these at least for the time being. Some could hope for getting a discount on the fee.
In some cases, immersions, exchange school opportunities and international projects may get affected. Several schools in the United States are in the process of rerouting their China, Thailand or Indonesia tours to other destinations like Brazil, Guatemala provided there is no virus outbreak there.
In such a situation, the full-time cohort could demand a cut in the fee as the schools charge much less for an on-line program or even opt for such programs.
B-Schools May Relax Admission Norms
Under such circumstances, several of the B-schools may offer some relaxation in the admission norms, including submission of GMAT and other such test scores.
INSEAD, according to BusinessBecause, may grant provisional admission to candidates pending results of GMAT or GRE tests. The school may also adopt a more flexible attitude regarding application deadlines, deferral requests and fee payment options.
It is also possible that admission committees may depend more upon a holistic assessment of the candidate through the admission essays, resume and online interviews.
Schools in the United States may also try to woo domestic candidates in larger numbers to make up the shortfall from the virus-affected countries like China.
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