Leoni Grobler. Picture: Supplied
Leoni Grobler. Picture: Supplied

Online MBA programmes need not deny students all the personal interactions they would normally expect from their MBA experience, says Leoni Grobler, CEO of Regenesys Business School.

Market research for the FM shows that in addition to the business and leadership knowledge they want to acquire, many students also undertake MBAs for the networking and relationships that usually come with the package.

Whether it’s shared classroom time or working together at all hours on projects and syndicate work, it’s considered part of the experience. Covid-19 has mostly put paid to this in 2020 by forcing business schools to move activities online and into the “virtual” classroom.

Not all is lost, says Grobler. “Online platforms allow for teamwork and engagement. Students are able to form breakaway groups during online sessions and our facilitators have been trained to ensure participation.”

She continues: “We believe that through our group work activities, networking will take place.”

Regenesys provides three MBA study options: a full-time programme for students visiting from the school’s Nigerian and Indian campuses, a part-time distance programme with regular classroom sessions and a wholly online MBA. All are nominally two-year programmes, though students have up to five years to complete them. Of the 234 current Regenesys students at various stages of their MBAs, 32 signed up for full-time, 99 for distance and 103 for online study.

In reality, they’ve all been studying fully online since the lockdown began in March. Grobler says classroom sessions will resume in January.

Some students can’t wait for normality to return – even if no-one is sure yet what that normality will be. Grobler says the uncertainty of the past few months has placed considerable strain on students. Because they have been faced with changing work and family environments combined with the pressure of their MBAs, some have struggled to cope.

In some cases, countless hours of staring at computer or tablet screens for lessons has also taken its toll. “We are mindful of virtual fatigue, and have developed an online schedule allowing for more self-study,” says Grobler. “We also provide extensive online tutor support.”

Loss of income has affected some students’ ability to pay fees. Grobler says Regenesys has reacted to a “slight decrease” in payments by renegotiating terms and providing study loans. She adds that fees were reduced for all MBA students by 60% between May and August.​

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