The Gordon Institute of Business Science. Picture: Supplied
The Gordon Institute of Business Science. Picture: Supplied

The Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) has extended the deadline to apply for its 2021 MBA programmes. Applications, which opened on June 1, should have closed by now, but in a statement this week the school said potential students could apply until October 31.

The same goes for the school’s business postgraduate diploma, which is a stepping stone to the MBA for many students.

Covid-19 has complicated the MBA application process for all schools this year. Many people who might have applied for programmes have experienced salary cuts and even job losses. Some companies are cutting back on scholarship and bursary programmes. In addition, schools aren’t clear yet what form their programmes will take next year. While they hope students will be able to return to the classroom in 2021, there are no guarantees.

Gibs has a three-stage selection process for its part-time and full-time MBA programmes. Information supplied by the school to the FM shows that last year, of 1,230 applications to study in 2020 only 404 succeeded.

Academic programmes director Louise Whittaker says that despite fewer people starting the application process this year, she expects a full intake in 2021. “The conversion rate is higher,” she says. Those applying are more “serious” in their intent.

Interim dean Morris Mthombeni says: “It looks like the impact [of Covid-19] on our eventual numbers will be negligible.” More than a quarter of students at present studying MBAs through Gibs enjoy some sponsorship from their employers.

Mthombeni, who is among applicants for the fulltime deanship that became vacant after previous incumbent Nicola Kleyn left at the end of June, says the need to change programme formats in 2020 has turned Gibs, a faculty of the University of Pretoria, into a “multidimensional mode” school. It has made the school more flexible. “We have learned so much from this,” he says.

The school’s campus in Illovo, Johannesburg, has reopened for some MBA subjects, though not all students have been willing to return.

Students have been surveyed three times since the lockdown began in March, to learn how they are coping. More than a quarter have suffered loss of income because of Covid-19. And for those struggling beneath the weight of work and home pressures, the school has provided mentoring and counselling, says Whittaker.​

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