UCLA’s Anderson School of Management is taking a hard line on deferral requests from international students who are unable to get student visas in time for the start of the school’s hybrid fall semester. Instead, the school is informing those students that they will have to start the MBA program online or compete again for a spot in next year’s entering class.
Some of the school’s international admits are angered by the tone of an email announcing Anderson’s deferral policy. In that email, obtained by Poets&Quants, Rob Weiler, associate dean of Anderson’s full-time MBA program, says that “tough times can be a blessing in disguise. For example, our MBA Class of 2022 will have a great story to tell to future employers about how they rose to the challenge of making the most of their education in extreme circumstances.”
The announcement to admits circulated just as California surpassed New York for the most reported cases of coronavirus of any state in the U.S. There have now been more than 422,000 cases announced in California over the course of the pandemic, with the state revealing more than 12,100 additional cases, a single-day record on July 22. Some international admits have been unable to get student visas due to the closure of U.S. consulates around the world and a backlog on visa processing. Others still face travel restrictions.
Anderson is hardly alone in forcing international admits to either enroll or lose their admission to the school along with a non-refundable $2,000 deposit. With just a few exceptions, such as Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, most schools are digging their heels in on refusing most deferrals. That’s because they do not want to open the doors to a potential flood of them. At Harvard, for example, this year’s entering MBA class will be more than 200 students short of the more typical 930 to 940 size of the entering cohort due to its more progressive policy on deferrals.
‘WE DO NOT THINK IT IS FAIR FOR US TO DECIDE MBA DEFERRALS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS’
“Please understand our position on doing no deferrals: We do not think it is fair for us to decide on a case-by-case basis which ones are granted and which ones are not,” wrote Weiler. “Plus, other admits have already made decisions based on this policy and changing it now would penalize those folks. Everybody has difficulties now, so how are we to judge who is more deserving of special treatment? Instead, we believe the most honorable thing for us to do is to keep the same established policy. Each year’s class is chosen from that season’s applications, and we remain straightforward in treating all admits fairly and honestly.”
Last year, Anderson enrolled an MBA class of 343 students after admitting 860 of the 2,820 candidates who applied for admission. Some 27.8% of the total enrollment of 702 MBA students at Anderson were international. If those figures hold true for this coming year, the no deferral policy would impact nearly 100 international students in the school’s incoming class. The estimated cost of Anderson’s full-time MBA program, including room and board as well as a travel budget, is $104,954 a year or well over $200,000 for the entire two-year program. The school has not announced a discount on the tuition for online classes, an issue that drew a petition from more than 130 Anderson MBA students last spring (see The Student Revolt Over MBA Tuition For Online Classes).
Weiler made clear that Anderson isn’t going to be flexible. “For those who have asked to defer their enrollment and be automatically admitted next year, please be advised that we are not altering our longstanding policy of treating each admission year separately,” he added. “If you want to decline this year’s offer you can do an easy reapplication next season: As a 2020 admit you can ask us to clone this year’s application as a head start on the 2021 application, and waive the reapplication fee. If admitted again and you join the Class of 2023, your non-refundable $2,000 deposit will be rolled over and credited to your acceptance of next year’s offer (details of the specific mechanics of this will be discussed with those who participate.)”
‘TOUGH TIMES CAN BE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE’
Weiler noted that the pandemic has caused many unknowns that made it challenging to say exactly how the fall term will transpire. “All of us are facing a period of extreme uncertainty now, and we will continue to provide you with all the information that we have as input for your own decision-making,” he wrote. “While we are preparing to start the Fall quarter in a hybrid format, there is no certainty on exactly how we may be forced to deliver your MBA experience in September. What we do know with certainty is that we are committed to providing our students with opportunities to learn and grow like never before. We understand that our international students face challenges getting to the US for an array of reasons, and because of that, we will be offering a parallel virtual experience for you and for anyone who cannot get here or does not wish to attend class in person.
“Tough times can be a blessing in disguise,” added Weiler. “For example, our MBA Class of 2022 will have a great story to tell to future employers about how they rose to the challenge of making the most of their education in extreme circumstances and learned lifelong skills in managing through significant uncertainty. Also, we are ready to link our new students electronically into the global Anderson network including students and alumni who share your background and/or career interests. So connections are waiting for you!”