Q&A: UKZN business school’s Ana Martins
Studying at home requires new skills, says Ana Martins, interim dean of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Graduate School of Business & Leadership
FM: How has Covid-19 affected delivery of your MBA programme?
Martins: The programme is being delivered online and in line with a revised University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) calendar. Exams were changed to different assessment types.
FM: Even under normal circumstances, an MBA is a stressful degree. How are students coping with the added pressures caused by Covid-19?
Martins: Globally, students have experienced various difficulties, with stress the biggest factor, especially at the outset of lockdown. These extraordinary circumstances revealed the need to harness various skills. Social skills needed refining because individuals found themselves in the family environment for longer periods. They had to cultivate skills for studying effectively from a home environment shared by family members.
The school provided students and staff with training initiatives and workshops to equip them with the skills to navigate online learning platforms to ensure their learning and teaching experience runs smoothly. The university’s student support service also provides students with access to confidential online counselling.
FM: Are MBA applications for 2021 meeting expectations?
Martins: They are better than anticipated.
FM: What have been the biggest MBA challenges?
Martins: The main challenge is in reaching students based in remote villages where internet access is extremely volatile. When the national lockdown levels eased, UKZN provided data distribution and connectivity to all students.
FM: Thousands of small and medium businesses have gone under in recent months. Does the MBA properly prepare people to be entrepreneurs?
Martins: Our programme equips students with knowledge, skills, competencies, attitude, mindset and intellectual capability that will enhance their resilience and ability to succeed in an entrepreneurial environment. The programme encompasses various elective modules which offer wider knowledge on management information systems, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on instilling a skills set for students to acquire greater business perspicacity.
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