At SDA Bocconi In Milan, A Slow Return To Normalcy

What a Bocconi classroom looks like in normal times

BOCCONI HAS PUSHED BACK THE START DATE FOR THIS YEAR’S ENTERING MBAS BY ONE MONTH

What has the school learned from this situation? “That typically organizations are slow to adapt — even business schools,” says Daveri. “Though we teach innovation and change-management we are too slow to change our habits and the way we teach. We learned that, if you have a good reason, change is doable and should be done early rather than later, albeit gradually. The mere fact that from now onwards we consider whether to teach some things online — whether we do it or not — that in itself is a very good change for the better.”

What about next year’s MBA? Will it be disrupted? Bocconi has put back the start date from September to October 5, because some participants will probably have to go into quarantine after landing in Italy. Arrivals from certain countries are currently required to isolate for 15 days and the situation is unlikely to have eased by autumn.

In terms of application numbers, worries that COVID uncertainty would put people off studying an MBA so far appear unfounded. Traditionally, the MBA market is countercyclical, with people deciding that a downturn is the right time to invest in their skills. Some in the industry have suggested that potential MBAs might be put off this time, though, because they might prefer to stay close to loved ones and a health system they understand rather than move to a different city or country to study.

MBA APPLICATIONS ARE ‘MUCH HIGHER’ THAN THEY WERE LAST YEAR

This doesn’t seem to have panned out, at least for Bocconi. “Based on preliminary data from one month before the final [early May] application date, applications were actually much higher than in the last year,” says Daveri. “I’m still crossing my fingers because I want to see the final data, but I wouldn’t be very surprised to see that applications are up, because then it would be a rational choice to take your MBA now and then be back in the labor market may be in one year rather than postponing by another year to wait for — what?

“It’s unclear what’s going to come next, anyway. Therefore, I think that taking an MBA would be a good way of spending your time.”

Milan has survived the plague, war, and political upheaval in the past. The signs are that, slowly, it is bouncing back from this setback, too.

Timeline Of A Tragedy

Date Details
Jan. 31 The first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Rome from a Chinese couple, originally arriving from Wuhan. The Italian government suspends all flights to and from China and declares a state of emergency
Feb. 22 First death of a 77-year-old from coronavirus in Lombardy is widely reported. Bocconi announces that all educational activities will be suspended starting Feb. 24 through Feb. 29th
Feb. 23 Decision is made to shift all classroom learning online, a feat accomplished the following day at 8:30 a.m.
Feb. 28 Extends suspension of classroom learning to March 7, with the intention to resume in-person classes on March 9
March 4 Extends suspension of classroom learning again to March 15 and cancels exams the following week
March 8 Extends suspension of classroom learning yet again to April 3. Much of Italy put under a lockdown that would extend to the entire country two days later
March 12 Nearly two million teaching minutes have been delivered at Bocconi. Almost 9,000 students have watched videos on demand, with an average of 12 videos viewed per student, in addition to more than 800 live-streamed class sessions
March 19 Italy becomes the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus deaths until it is overtaken by the U.S. on April 11
March 24 Confirms that all teaching activities will continue remotely until the end of the semester.
Exam sessions scheduled for April-July will also be held remotely
May 10 Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus reaches 31,000, with 14,986 deaths in Lombardy alone

DON’T MISS: POETS&QUANTS’ 2019-2020 RANKING OF THE BEST INTERNATIONAL MBA PROGRAMS

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