22 Jun 2020

Accelerated digitalization during a pandemic will change the market for business education — AC Expert

Researchers at the Expert Analytical Center annually evaluate the level of advancement of Russia in the global business education market. Since 2010, the number of international students in the world has more than doubled, exceeding 5.3 million people. The publication dealt with how the pandemic affected the level of internationalization of universities. The Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University (GSOM SPbU) has answered a number of questions from the authors of the study in preparing the material.


The pandemic has accelerated the pace of transition of business education to a new stage of digitalization. GSOM was one of the few schools that were able to go online in a few days. Experts agree with the trend that emerged in the business school: the market has long been preparing for this transition, but the pandemic accelerated it, and digitalization has had a significant impact on the business education segment.


Olga K. Dergunova, Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank, Director of GSOM SPbU, believes that the pandemic has removed bureaucratic barriers that the education system as a whole and business schools in particular have been arguing about and afraid of. For example, an online application for admission can now submitted to all universities and at all program levels: Bachelor, Master and postgraduate studies. Previously, this option was not available at all universities, and GSOM accepted applications in online format only from applicants for Master and Bachelor studies. “This innovation was discussed, argued, doubted, until the pandemic made this possible,” — says Olga K. Dergunova. — “The transition to this technology will give us an expansion of the geographical spread of our applicants, as well as the opportunity to apply to this university, which, perhaps, previously might not have been possible for the applicant. In my opinion, this step will enable a redistribution of students among universities.”


Obviously, with the acceleration of the digitalization of business education, the horizons for basic academic programs are expanding. “But at the same time, the future of MBA programs looks very uncertain. On the one hand, in a crisis, the best investment for managers will be to invest in their own education, on the other hand, there is no certainty that online programs will continue to be in demand, because for this audience it is very important to establish new contacts and interpersonal interaction. According to the observations of Olga Dergunova, as a rule, people go to the MBA in order to discuss, reflect and develop in a team of like-minded people,” the study said. 


St. Petersburg State University and the Graduate School of Management St. Petersburg State University, as part of the university, were one of the first in Russia to decide to transfer their programs to an online format. Coordination, prompt adoption of joint decisions, building common processes and the formation of approaches have made it possible to resolve emerging issues systematically and carefully.


The authors of the study suggest that on the horizon of two or three years, global changes will appear on the map of business education in Russia. Firstly, during this time, a number of participants must complete expensive and lengthy projects for obtaining international accreditation, which will result in the expansion of the range of projects of partnerships with leading business schools in the world. Secondly, business schools that have made serious investments in online products and technologies in previous years will receive significant gains from global students: there are currently less than two dozen of them throughout the country. This will happen because of the suddenly expanding market for online educational products is differentiated by quality.


The full text of the study is available here >>