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Monday, March 2, 2020

Digitalisation Aids CEIBS’ COVID-19 Response

March 2, 2020. Shanghai – Traditionally, the Lunar New Year holiday is a time when Chinese families reunite. This year, however, the COVID-19 outbreak instead created many new challenges and left many in the CEIBS community feeling anxious.

CEIBS’ MBA programme is often characterised by its internationalisation. Amongst the 360 MBA students currently enrolled at CEIBS, 115 are international students. During the Lunar New Year holiday, more than 20 MBAs stayed at CEIBS’ Shanghai campus, more than half of whom were international students. Meanwhile, four exchange students from overseas business schools who are study at CEIBS were travelling in Tibet. How to ensure their health and safety became a challenging test for everyone.

In response to the outbreak, CEIBS quickly established the CEIBS Working Team for Coronavirus Prevention led by the school’s president, Li Mingjun. The MBA programme also set up a Class Coordinator Emergency Working Group and an International Student Emergency Working Group with the operations, enrolment and career development teams taking turns on duty. Each of these teams worked both online and offline to ensure everyone’s safety was treated as a top priority.

In addition to continuously updating the status of students staying at the school, CEIBS established a pass system for students and designated special living areas on campus. School staff also worked to ensure a sufficient stock of available health and safety supplies. Subsequently, on January 27, the school issued a notice delaying the upcoming term, further upgraded prevention measures, implemented enclosure management, and strengthened the sanitation supervision of the canteen.

Due to language and cultural barriers, it was difficult for many international students to access official, up-to-date information about the progress and prevention of the epidemic. At the same time, many experienced loneliness and helplessness as a result of being away from home. Despite the extended break from classes, student WeChat groups were particularly active. Class co-ordinators not only checked students’ daily condition, but also offered them encouragement and updated them with latest policies and information.

“My friends and family were worried about me,” says Mayuko Kawata (MBA 2020), a Japanese student who stayed on campus during the holiday. “But I told them that the CEIBS campus is the safest place in Shanghai.”

Students have also assisted in fighting the virus in various ways. When CEIBS alumni from Wuhan launched a fundraising initiative to purchase medical supplies, for example, both Chinese and international MBAs stepped up to donate money. As a result of their efforts, masks and goggles have been delivered to more than 20 hospitals in affected areas.

Despite the outbreak, student recruitment activities continued in February as more than 150 applicants successfully completed their admissions interviews with the use of video conferencing technology. The interviews, conducted from home, spanned four time zones and were co-ordinated by school faculty and staff in six different countries and regions.

The epidemic has also tested CEIBS’ use of digitalisation in teaching. In order to successfully complete terms three and four, the school will launch an online teaching platform, with classes scheduled to begin this week.

On February 21, MBA faculty and students also held a special online meeting, with more than 230 students participating. The meeting was used to respond to student questions about teaching, graduation and job hunting. During the session, CEIBS Vice President and Dean Ding Yuan noted that, although the epidemic had had a significant impact on people’s lives, it has also heralded in the coming era of digitisation and globalisation. Prof. Fernandez added that CEIBS will continue to put students’ safety first, and encouraged everyone to quickly adapt to the new online learning mode.

In retrospect, the events of the past few weeks have created a lot of turmoil. Despite the fact that CEIBS’ MBA programme was once again ranked #5 in the world in the Financial Times’ global MBA ranking at the end of January, the school has been more focused on what the future holds in store for us. The epidemic has been a test for every organisation, and CEIBS is no exception. Nevertheless, we believe that the expertise, hard work, and efficiency of our people will carry us through these uncertainties.

Dili Lu
Yiwan Wang, Lilly Zhang and Michael Thede