Academics forced by Covid-19 to keep pace with rapid changes
Pandemic or not, and as students and academics feel the pressure, school is determined to ensure that its programmes finish on time
Wits Business School is anxious to rebuild relationships with alumni, after losing touch with many of them in recent years, says Sue Benvenuti, the school’s acting academic director.
Market research for the FM shows that the local business school community generally has a poor record of maintaining relationships with MBA graduates. Information supplied by Wits shows that it has regular contact with only 29% of those who graduated in the past five years, 21% who graduated between six and 10 years ago, and 29% who graduated before that.
SA schools averages are 67% for up to five years, 47% for up to 10 years, and 27% for over 10 years.
Benvenuti says alumni relations is now a school priority. “We’ve not been working hard enough with our alumni,” she admits. “From our conversations with them, we realise there are many things they want to be involved in at the school. It’s something we must focus on.”
It’s an issue also picked up by the international accreditation agency, the Association of MBAs (Amba), in its latest assessment of the school. Wits MBA programme director Renee Horne says she expects to hear confirmation of the school’s reaccreditation in coming weeks.
The Amba visit has provided extra tension in an already stressful year. Covid-19 has created unprecedented pressures for students and academics alike. However, Horne says the school has gone out of its way to ensure programmes finish on time.
For students requiring their degree for the next step in their career, particularly those planning to go overseas, punctuality is paramount. “Without their MBA, their career could be on hold,” she says.
Benvenuti suggests the pandemic has served an unexpected purpose by giving schools and the business world no choice but to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment. Corporate and entrepreneurial success requires adaptability and agility of thought.
The old business rule book is redundant, Benvenuti says. “Covid has fast-forwarded the thinking and agility. People have had to be more flexible and able to react and think differently under pressure.”
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