InfoEdge (India) Ltd.’s Shiksha.com, a leading online platform for career and college selection in India, has released survey findings on MBA students’ readiness for offline classes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic terrifying the world, educational facilities have largely remained close since March 2020. During the halt, a majority of educational institutions shifted to online learning methods. With over 5,000 MBA colleges in India, Shiksha concentrated on management students’ willingness to return to their respective B-schools. Shiksha.com performed a study to see whether MBA students are ready to take offline classes. In this study, MBA students responded about their perceptions of and preferences for offline classes in the face of the epidemic.
Over 45% of respondents said that their colleges are fully offline when asked whether MBA institutions had reopened or not. Online classes are offered by about 22% of MBA colleges, whereas 18% of MBA colleges have partially reopened, offering both online and offline sessions. Approximately 14% of MBA colleges have remained closed.
MBA colleges in India started reopening in July 2021, with November seeing a spike with 18% of colleges reopening compared to previous months. Over 50% of students were aware of the dates of their college reopening (from those still closed or partially open). As per the students, in December and January, 59% of MBA colleges are scheduled to reopen, whereas 6% of the colleges are scheduled to open in February 2022. We estimate that by February, at least 60% of colleges will be open and offer only offline classes.
We find that 66% of MBA students prefer classroom learning when asked about students’ preferred mode of education. The remaining MBA students continue to favor online or hybrid learning. In our view, the student’s preference for classroom and offline teaching reflects the inherently experiential nature of learning in the MBA programs. Lack of interpersonal interaction with lecturers and networking chances with peers is one of the top reasons why offline class delivery is preferred. Change of routine, lack of focused studies, and missing college life are all important factors for offline class preference.
Vivek Jain, Chief Business Officer, Shiksha.com asserted, “MBA as a post-graduate programme is one of the most sought-after career choices among young Indian students. The availability of quality institutions, as well as the diversity of specializations and expanding demand for developed management jobs, have all contributed to its continued appeal among students. The fact that the majority of the students prefer offline classes and the majority of the Bschools have reopened or started reopening is a positive sign. The pandemic, on the other hand, made us realise how a hybrid method may be included in future learning systems. ”
MBA students who preferred hybrid mode, when asked about the most sought reason, responded that a partially open-college or a hybrid-class mode is flexible and convenient. In addition, a partially open college aids students in time management and stress reduction. Extracurricular activities in colleges allow students to follow their passion and interests.
Among students who opted for hybrid mode of education, 81% of the students preferred online classes. More than 61% of students, who choose online classes, considered the online mode to be flexible and easy. Other important factors contributing the preference of online classes are saving cost on hostel and lodging, saving travel time and expenses, and convenience to pursue other courses side by side.
Not all MBA programmes have switched to an offline format. Aside from the benefits of online education, students are also concerned about the third wave of COVID-19. While weighing the advantages of offline classes, one cannot neglect the issue of safety in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic. The COVID-19 virus is constantly changing, and a cure is still yet to be developed. Students still choose the offline class approach for MBA education, notwithstanding the COVID-19 issue.
This survey was conducted in the first week of December 2021. Omicron variant is in its early stages and it is hard to predict its impact. Any increase in spread of infection because the new variant may result in further delay in reopening of colleges.