Covid-Era Grads’ Shared Trauma Created Stronger Ties With Their B-School: Survey

B-school students who endured the trials of Covid developed a greater attachment to their alma maters, according to a new survey by CarringtonCrisp

In the movies, shared trauma — escaping disaster, defeating an arch-villain, overcoming extreme challenges to emerge triumphant — often leads to romance. In at least in one prominent recent case, it’s the same with business school — with significantly greater alumni engagement substituting for on-screen love.

B-school alumni whose studies were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021 have developed stronger ties with their alma maters, according to the latest Alumni Matters study by education consultancy CarringtonCrisp in association with EFMD, released today (February 27). The survey of 1,652 alumni from 51 countries found that more than four in 10 (44%) who graduated in the last three years are positive toward their B-school, compared with 38% of the total sample.

And while nearly half (49%) of recent alumni agree that they are proud to be associated with their B-school (compared to 43% in their total sample), 36% say they are connected to their school or part of the alumni community. The latter compares with 30% of older alumni.


“During the pandemic, many schools moved much of their alumni activities online, allowing more alumni to engage than previously when events were almost entirely face-to-face,” says Andrew Crisp, author of the Alumni Matters study. “Going forward the key to stronger alumni relations will be taking the best of the online experience and blending it with face-to-face networking.

“Alumni are some of a business school’s most important ambassadors, and in what is currently a very competitive business education market, schools have a tremendous opportunity to generate greater engagement by providing more of the services and support that alumni value.”

CarringtonCrisp isn’t new to research into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business education. In June 2023, its annual Tomorrow’s Master’s report showed how fear of contracting coronavirus from a colleague in a crowded master’s classroom was waning fast: In a survey of more than 1,700 prospective students in over two dozen countries, it found that the proportion of students preferring blended (15%) or entirely online (14%) study had dropped from 38% in 2022, and almost half (47%) favored full-time on-campus study. In 2022, nearly 60% agreed that “I am more likely to consider studying all or most of my master’s online,” while last year the percentage dropped to 52%.


In the new study, the consulting firm found more interesting wrinkles among recent alumni, with respondents overall showing a high level of engagement with their schools and offering several areas where even greater engagement could be achieved — including better access to career services, more opportunities to network, and lifelong learning programs. Among recent alumni, 71% would like better career services, compared to 45% of older alumni who are further into their careers and need less help.

Among other findings:

  • Well over half (58%) of all respondents are thinking of starting a business with a third (37%) indicating they have run a start-up and want to share their expertise with new entrepreneurs.
  • Just under half of respondents (44%) would like to have more opportunities for networking with 42% wanting programs for further learning. Both factors are particularly important amongst female alumni at 51% and 49% respectively.
  • There is a clear desire to connect with other alumni, with two thirds (66%) of respondents wanting to connect with alumni within their profession/area of work. Over half (57%) want to network with alumni from their business sector, and 52% with alumni from across their parent university, not just the business school.
  • To enable more networking the expectation is that this will be through technology with most respondents (59%) suggesting that better use should be made of technology to connect members of the alumni network.


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