Moving beyond Covid-19: Collegium Humanum

How has the management education landscape been affected by Covid-19, and how are Business Schools working to move past the pandemic, both in the short and longer term? Insights from Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University, Poland

In spite of the shattering human cost and the innumerable challenges presented by Covid-19, the management education sector has made positive moves over the past six months which promise not only to facilitate management education’s recovery from the pandemic, but also to aid its progression in the face of evolving technologies and student demands in the third decade of the 21st century.

Business Impact’s fifth edition in print turned to the BGA network to canvas the collected thoughts of Business Schools based in India, Scotland, Puerto Rico, Poland, and the Netherlands to find out how they expect the pandemic to affect their outlook, strategy and offerings, both now and in the future. Here, we look in more detail at the thoughts of Paweł Czarnecki, Provost at Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University in Poland.

The Covid-19 pandemic has, in many cases, led to a greatly increased uptake of online learning technology in business education. Although this has been a short-term necessity, does it present the sector with any opportunities in the longer term?

When it comes to the strategy of educational activities in the area of business here at Collegium Humanum, we never planned online education because our education philosophy rests largely on the values associated with the creation of networking opportunities and personal relationships among students. In the long run, this translates into their further professional success.

The pandemic situation has, however, forced us to move to the online education sector. From research and observations among our students, we have noticed considerable interest in this form of education and an increased commitment to acquiring knowledge. I am therefore convinced that online education will in no time significantly support traditional forms of education. Yet, one must still admit that online education cannot and will never replace direct contact and meetings with people.

Going beyond the pandemic’s immediate impact, have the year’s developments influenced your School’s strategy with regards to the use of online technology?

We do not know what the situation will be in the coming months. I do hope that the pandemic will be only a memory. We have, however, drawn positive conclusions from this difficult experience, and yes, we will support traditional education with online education technologies. We will also expand our virtual university systems.

The global financial crisis of 2008 has been linked to an increase in applications to Business School, as people decided the time was right to reassess their career goals and pursue personal and professional development. Do you think the Covid-19 pandemic could have a similar impact?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have recorded increased recruitment levels for MBA, DBA and LLM studies. Perhaps this was due to the lockdown [restrictions] necessitated by the sanitary regime which left our candidates with more time to spare for education. This trend still continues.

What changes do you anticipate to the number and profile of those applying to programmes at your Business School over the coming three years? Do you envisage greater interest in any individual programme(s) on offer?

We strive to adapt our educational offer to the individual needs of various candidates for business studies. Individual organisation of studies, tutoring as well as mentoring activities are all standard services available to students at our university. We assume that, over the next three years, the number of students on MBA and DBA courses will increase.

What will be the core challenges for the business education sector in recruiting new students (at both undergraduate and postgraduate level) over the coming three years?

The main challenge will be to create an educational offer that will meet the current and potential needs of the labour market. Hence, our study programmes are formed in constant consultation with our social and economic environment as well as its stakeholders. We work to the understanding that our study programmes should educate and equip our graduates with practical preparation for professional roles. The challenge is therefore to provide practical education that is implemented by a truly experienced cohort of practitioners and experts.

Business Schools are often encouraged to play a greater role in their local and regional communities. Has Covid-19 inspired any new events, activities or initiatives with this in mind?

During the pandemic, our university implemented a legal aid project and developed a textbook related to the changes in legal regulations in view of the enforced sanitary regime and other restrictions as well as changes brought upon us by the broader epidemic regulations.

We published this on our social media and on our website. A professor of our university has also been giving daily advice, in Polish and English, on matters related to Covid-19 and the pandemic with the largest television broadcaster in Poland (TVP).

Leaving aside Covid-19, which single new programme, course, or initiative are you most excited about and why?

We have launched a completely online MBA programme, which proved, and is still, very popular.

Do you think Business Schools will need to focus more inwardly (and therefore less ‘globally’) than they have been in their teaching in order to address industry needs post-Covid-19? If so, could this have an impact on your School’s international exchange and partnership options?

As long as there is an epidemic threat and related sanitary regime in place, there will be inevitable restrictions related to the mobility of students and the teaching staff.

In the long run, however, one cannot run successful business education programmes without exchanging experiences or involving external partnerships. Partners not only bring additional educational quality to the study programmes, but they also influence the prestige of the studies.

Do you anticipate Covid-19, and related issues, influencing course offerings within the programmes on offer from your School?

It seems viable that study programmes might have to be integrated with courses that will deal with various competencies that relate specifically to crisis management, especially when it comes to health emergency situations. We will integrate such modules with programmes of all types of studies.

There is already an argument that the economic challenges that Covid-19 will bring represent a huge and much-needed opportunity for Business Schools to reinvent their value proposition for the better. What would you most like to see change in the business education industry?

In the business education industry, it is particularly crucial to educate in the field of practical functioning of businesses according to the latest knowledge and market trends. This requires constant tracking of the market trends and consulting the study programmes with different business practitioners so that to adapt them to the current needs.

Paweł Czarnecki is Provost at Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University, Poland. A Professor of Social Sciences, he is also Member of the Marketing Committee at the Polish Olympic Committee, Professor at the Technical University of Košice (Faculty of Aviation) in Slovakia, and Member of the Supervisory Boards in Wroclaw Technology Park and Business Solutions in Warsaw.

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