Helping provide continuity for business education students in Ukraine

Business Impact: Helping provide continuity for business education students in Ukraine
Business Impact: Helping provide continuity for business education students in Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine has had a devastating effect on all aspects of society, including education. This is not only terrible in the short-term, but the long-term impact this will have on a generation is also life-altering. 

The damage goes beyond destroyed infrastructure. The impact it has on scientific and educational facilities is huge. This is why it is also vital that, in addition to immediate aid, we help to rebuild and implement foundations which can help Ukrainian educational institutions to continue to operate as best they can. 

Education is fundamental 

This is where other countries and institutions need to step in, and why POLIMI Graduate School of Management [POLIMI GSoM; formerly, MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business] has now partnered with three Ukrainian business schools, offering courses and content free of charge. Those involved are Kyiv School of Economics, Kyiv-Mohyla Business School and the Ukrainian Catholic University. Education is fundamental and we hope that these partnerships will help connect students to much-needed resources, and to broaden their communities during a time of unimaginable unsettlement. 

Business schools are natural partners, as we are both educational hubs and businesspeople alike, and over the years, POLIMI GSoM has nurtured and developed numerous partnerships both with businesses and other institutions that align with our goals and values. Our partnerships have increasingly become associated with increasing awareness of our combined responsibility to address pressing issues within society, and our understanding that profit must not be viewed as the be-all and end-all anymore. Profit should co-exist with equity, sustainability and inclusion, and we should help and support those in need. 

When the crisis arose, we realised that we could harness our relationship-building skills to give back to the Ukrainian business schools that would benefit from our support. We want to grow the foundations of a lasting collaboration that can provide some relief and support in this difficult time in the subsequent rebuilding phase and beyond. 

Aiding continuation

But what exactly do the partnerships entail? Well, we start with Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) a business school that was established in 2015 when it launched its MBA programme. Since then, the portfolio of the business school has grown, including long-term programmes and tailor-made courses for companies. Since the crisis, KSE has kept working to support the Ukrainian economy, and has continued to provide relevant education for its students. The school has continued to operate and has focused on projects aimed at restoring the economy, and educating leaders on how to manage emergencies at all levels. 

From our side, we have tried to aid this continuation. The partnership started with successful online networking sessions in which full-time MBA students met online in May, before the delivery of online classes from mid-June to July. Co-designed
and co-delivered by KSE and POLIMI GSoM professors, each class counted for 30-50 hours and involved 10-15 KSE students. These included classes in ‘leadership and management’, ‘operations and project management’, ‘data analysis for business’ and ‘strategic management’. The aim of this partnership is to continue the academic path of KSE students in an otherwise very unsettled situation. 

Kyiv-Mohyla Business School (KMBS) meanwhile, is a school that prides itself on educating future leaders who want to change business and, indeed, the planet for the better. It was founded in 1999 as a part of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy – one of the oldest universities in Europe with a more than 400-year history. 

For this partnership, POLIMI will provide KMBS students, as well as some faculty members, with the opportunity to join the school’s digital learning platform – D-HUB – where they will have access to a wide range of asynchronous videoclips. Those able to partake include MBA and executive MBA students, as well as participants of its master’s in business analytics and finance programme.
These classes are optional, and include classes on digital transformation, project management, and decision-making. We anticipate that this is just the beginning for us in providing material and support for KMBS. 

Another area where POLIMI GSoM thrives and also wishes to share knowledge is through its sustainability initiatives, programmes, and overall expertise. This is why our partnership with the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) is so valuable. Sharing much of the same values as POLIMI GSoM, the UCU is known for its independent public position, the scope of its international outreach, and its commitment to value-based education and social responsibility. Indeed, the university aspires to train a new generation of students capable of combining their professional education with soft skills, to ultimately contribute to a more sustainable and ethical society. 

Through this collaboration, POLIMI Graduate School of Management and the UCU will provide online classes about sustainability and global business for UCU students, with options to take part in workshops. The main goal of this partnership is to give UCU students international exposure and continue the global nature of their education. 

We do not know when this crisis will end and all we can do in the meantime is to provide support the best we can. At POLIMI GSoM, we will continue to use our resources and foundations to assist Ukrainian universities and business schools during the unrest, so that future generations have as much opportunity as possible to continue their valuable education.

Tommaso Agasisti is Associate Dean for International Relations at POLIMI Graduate School of Management (POLIMI GSoM) and a Professor of Public Management at Politecnico di Milano.

This article originally appeared in the print edition (August 2022) of Business Impact, magazine of the Business Graduates Association (BGA).

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