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B-Schools Begin Canceling MBA Trips To China

Olin MBA students on last year's global immersion in Shanghai, China

Olin MBA students on last year’s global immersion in Shanghai, China

With the coronavirus outbreak continuing to worsen in China, business schools that take their MBA students on global immersions to the country are reconsidering their plans. One of the first to cancel a planned immersion to Shanghai is Washington University’s Olin Business School which today (Feb. 5) announced it has scratched its planned trip this summer to Shanghai for newly admitted MBA students.

As earlier reported, China had already canceled the GMAT and GRE exams for the entire month of February. The decision by China’s National Education Examinations Authority was made in an effort to contain the spread of the disease which is rapidly spreading in China and has become a significant risk beyond the country.

Instead, the school plans to bring its incoming MBA class to both Paris, France, and Lima, Peru, as part of its required global immersion, a centerpiece of its newly revamped curriculum that won the school’s Poets&Quants‘ distinction as the MBA Program of the Year in 2019. “We wanted to make a decision sooner rather than later,” explained Olin Dean Mark Taylor in an interview with Poets&Quants.

‘IT’S BETTER TO MAKE AN EARLY DECISION SO WE CAN THEN START PLANNING FOR ALTERNATIVES’

“Uncertainty kills any kind of business. It’s better to make an early decision so we can then start planning for alternatives. There is a huge amount of stuff that has to go on in the background before the immersion takes place: visas, flights, accommodations, local excursions, and staffing.”

Taylor, who recently attended a deans’ conference in Nashville, said he heard from several other business school deans who were considering a cancellation of their student trips to China. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has scratched its ten-day MBA immersion in China that had been scheduled for March as part of its Global Initiatives in Management program. “We don’t want to be scaremongers or excessively worried,” says Kellogg Dean Francesca Cornelli. But the school has decided to take a prudent course and replace the immersion with another, possibly in Southeast Asia. “The students know that it’s a bit out of our hands. I hope everything will be fine by March but of course we had to plan for now. For everything else, we’ll just wait and see.”

In the first iteration of Olin’s MBA, the entire class of nearly 100 MBA students arrived on the St. Louis campus for an orientation in late June and then took off for a 38-day, round-the-world learning experience in Washington, D.C., Barcelona, Spain, and Shanghai, China. The students spent 17 days in China In China, among other things churning out a market entry project for Strange Donuts, a company based in St. Louis, that is considering an expansion into Asia.

Dean Taylor made the announcement in a blog post. “Given today’s headlines, and because the health and well-being of our students is paramount, we had to make decisions now,” he wrote. “We had to pivot, while preserving the important global experience that has quickly become a cornerstone of the WashU MBA…Class of ’22 students will take virtually the same courses their predecessors took, gaining similar outcomes. This time, however, students will experience even more diverse business perspectives. As well as adding a major European capital and world business center to the itinerary—Paris—we are adding a stint in Lima, the capital city of Peru’s emerging economy, with opportunities to study sustainability concerns and startup opportunities.”

WILL ADD SHORTER ELECTIVE COURSES IN CHINA WHEN THE HEALTH CRISIS THERE ENDS

Taylor left open the possibility of seven-to-ten days electives in China if the health crisis there ends. “As soon as we can, we are going to add China back to our list of global elective courses,” Taylor told Poets&Quants. “We have all the infrastructure set up in China so as soon as we get the green light we’ll be there.”

“For students who were deeply committed to the possibility of an experience in China, we haven’t left them behind either,” he added in his blog post. “When the current crisis subsides, we plan to offer an elective residency in Shanghai—along with other residencies in Tel Aviv and Berlin.”

DON’T MISS: CHINA CANCELS GMAT & GRE TESTS IN FEBRUARY

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.