Another of Europe’s leading business schools has been hit by coronavirus. IE Business School of Spain has announced that three of its students have been diagnosed with the disease known as COVID-19 that has killed thousands around the world, mostly in China. One IE student from the school’s Madrid campus has been hospitalized with the virus and is reportedly in stable condition, while two others, from IE’s campus in Segovia, also have been diagnosed with the disease.
IE says the affected student in Madrid was on the city’s campus from February 17-22 attending the residential portion of a part-time master’s program at the business school. After this he traveled to Italy and then returned to Madrid. The symptoms began on February 23, one day after completing the residential period in Madrid. One of the Segovia-based students reported symptoms on March 1, having attended classes until February 27. He had recently returned from an at-risk country. The other patient in Segovia was diagnosed on February 26. One of the Segovia students is under medical supervision and is taking classes remotely, while the other is in the hospital.
IE’s Madrid and Segovia campuses remain open, however, and students in Madrid — including MBA participants — have been given the option to either attend classes in person or online. IE’s one-year International MBA program, ranked 52nd globally and 9th in Europe by The Financial Times, has about 440 students from approximately 75 countries. At the time of writing, pupils at the five schools that make up IE have taken 25,000 classes online.
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, IE University has been working to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff, in line with the recommendations of the health authorities,” according to the school’s announcement. “The institution aims to provide information in a transparent manner and to maintain academic teaching.”
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IE has advised students and staff not to travel to at-risk areas, and recommends that anyone who has done so should observe a 14-day quarantine period and seek medical advice upon their return. In common with most European business schools, IE has an extremely international community, with students and faculty from 130 total countries.
So far, school officials say, IE is continuing with business as usual, as far as possible. “Our campuses remain open and our teaching continues as normal,” says Gonzalo Garland, IE’s vice president of external relations.
The worst-affected European business school remains SDA Bocconi, based in Milan, Italy, where the local government has closed public buildings and many businesses for the past two weeks. In response to the health crisis, Bocconi has moved its MBA course online; hopes that this would be a short-lived adjustment have been scuppered and the school has had to make changes to courses — for example, some exams have been changed from closed-book tests to remote, open-book ones, while several speakers have been forced to cancel. However, some seminars, including one with Proctor & Gamble, have been given remotely.
Bocconi’s full-time MBA will soon move on to the elective portion of the program, which “will be more challenging,” says Francesco Daveri, Bocconi’s MBA program director. But he hopes that students will be back in the classroom by mid-March, adding that students are “very happy” with the situation and “loved our ability to change quickly and effectively” to online delivery.
Admissions activities at Bocconi have been curtailed because staff cannot travel, but the school has upped the number of Skype chats and interviews with students. The good news: Bocconi still says that, so far, it has no reported cases of coronavirus.
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The worst-hit major school globally has been CEIBS, based in Shanghai. Although the original outbreak occurred during China’s Lunar New Year holiday when many students were off campus, around two dozen MBA participants had remained there, and the school has ensured they have been supplied with food and health and safety supplies, as well as up-to-date information.
Lessons resumed on March 2, delivered online. CEIBS says it will continue to give web-based lessons until campus-based classes can recommence. Admissions activity continues unabated, and CEIBS says it conducted 150 interviews online in February alone.
“We have adjusted our schedule for term dates, including overseas modules, graduation and other events and activities, so as to avoid large scale gatherings until the virus is brought completely under control,” says CEIBS’ Associate Dean and MBA Director Juan A. Fernandez, adding that “learning to deal with unforeseen events, crises, or emergencies such as the one we are all now facing is in some ways as good a lesson as any we could give our students in terms of how business management must be flexible and able to come up with solutions at short notice to emerging new problems.”