Wits Business School’s huge turnaround
All the new registered programmes offer active learning, says director
The days of false dawns for Wits Business School are over, says director Maurice Radebe. The brand image has been burnished, the school is helping shape important debates, student numbers are up and major corporates are returning to the fold for executive education. “This time we’re really back,” he says.
When he joined Wits last year, the former Sasol executive was tasked with returning the school to its old position of eminence. Some predecessors had begun the process but it needed to accelerate. Progress had to be visible.
Radebe says that is being achieved. “By revisiting our strategy and repositioning the brand, we can see the results. It’s been an eye-opener. It’s about execution and implementation.
“We’ve had buy-in both from inside and outside the school. There is a genuine desire to move it back to where it used to be.”
Executive education director Leoni Grobler says progress can be seen in the growing demand for the school’s services. “The numbers are showing it.” Radebe says: “There’s been a huge turnaround. Numbers were dropping. We have renewed contact with the big companies that used to support us. They say we have turned the corner.”
Grobler adds: “People who used to go elsewhere for their executive education are willing to start a conversation with us again. They are interested to see what we are doing.”
As part of its reputational regeneration, academic director Logan Rangasamy says, the school is pursuing a full house of international accreditations. It already has the stamp of approval from the Association of MBAs. Next up is the Association of African Business Schools, followed by the European Quality Improvement System and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
As with other business schools, two years of Covid showed Wits that it had to change the way it approaches education. Face-to-face classroom teaching has largely given way to the online, virtual kind. Radebe says about 60% of students want to return to full-contact study but concedes the future is a blended version of the two.
The pandemic has also placed psychological strains on many students, causing Grobler to observe that “resilience and traditional emotional capacity” can no longer be taken for granted. “People can’t connect the way they used to.” Radebe says: “Emotional intelligence, both for us and our students, is more important than ever before.”
There’s also a shift in the emphasis of executive education, says Grobler. “I’ve made a conscious shift from academic to practical learning. All the new registered programmes offer active learning. Clients say there has not been enough applied learning.”
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