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International study: are digital open days really worth your time?

If you’re considering an MBA or executive education, you want to know that the institution you choose will really suit your needs. But with ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it may be impossible to visit in person.

International study: are digital open days really worth your time?
Nayda Massoud. Photo: ESSEC

So what of digital open days: are they really worth the time and effort? Reaching across time zones is more important than ever today, and the digital world is increasing the demand for personalized learning opportunities.

But if you’re an international person and fear current restrictions could stifle your growth, can you learn enough to make an informed decision by joining remotely?

The Local takes a look at how one Parisian business school is reimagining the open day and bringing it into the 21st century, as well as learning how some of its alumni are prospering in today’s digital world.

Experience a new kind of open day: find your path to world-class business learning with the ESSEC Executive virtual open days, between the 21st and 25th of June, 2021

Turning adversity into opportunity

Most of us have attended a university open day before – it’s an opportunity to not only learn more about the courses delivered by a university or business school, but also to get a feel for the atmosphere and learning environment you could be entering.

While the pandemic continues, the traditional style of open day – an open campus visit with sessions running throughout, usually on a weekend – just isn’t possible. Contact restrictions mean the kind of course counselling sessions you might see featured throughout a day can’t be held.

Founded in 1907, ESSEC provides high-quality and innovative business learning, including leading MBAs, at campuses in France, Singapore and Morocco. It has a series of 100 percent digital Executive open days planned for the end of June.

As with so many things, the changes enforced by the pandemic can also open up new opportunities. Indeed, the leap to online learning and greater use of digital tools means a virtual open day can be a much richer, more useful experience than the traditional approach.

Claire Szlingier, ESSEC Executive education’s Head of Marketing, says switching to virtual open days makes it possible to give those interested in joining ESSEC a much broader and deeper experience. “To begin with, it allows us to reach international students across multiple time zones.” With lectures and seminars scheduled from dawn to dusk across a number of days, those from overseas who wish to come to France to study can access events, no matter where they are.

“Hosting open days on our learning platform online also allows us to deliver a deeper, more tailored experience to prospective students,” Szlingier adds. Using a bespoke platform, MeltingSpot, designed by an ESSEC alumnus, the school’s open days allow prospective students to select a combination of events that reflects their interests and address their questions. They will be able to access ‘masterclasses’ from ESSEC faculty, discuss their needs with advisors and the admissions team, and watch Alumni Q&A sessions that give an inside glimpse of student life at ESSEC.

Hosting digital open days also reflects the school’s strategic plan, ‘RISE’, which includes a focus on tackling social and environmental problems, says Szlingier. The plan also encourages innovative entrepreneurship and holistic use of data to guide thinking, as ESSEC seeks to positively influence the major challenges facing businesses, organisations and society.

Access business acumen from world-class teachers, professors and advisors: find out more about the ESSEC Executive virtual open days, taking place from the 21st to 25th June, 2021

An earlier open day at ESSEC Business School. Photo: ESSEC

Future vision, past tradition

What of the courses you can learn about? ESSEC delivers a popular and highly-acclaimed full-time Global MBA program and the part-time ESSEC and Mannheim Business School Executive MBA (modular track). You can also choose the part-time ESSEC Executive MBA (weekend track).

In addition, it offers a number of specialised courses: the full-time MSc in Hospitality Management (IMHI), the part-time Executive Master in Luxury Management and Design Innovation or ‘EMiLUX’ and the part-time Executive Mastère Spécialisé in International Business Development.

ESSEC alumni have many positive stories to share about how their experience at the school changed their lives.

Nayda Massoud, who is of Lebanese origin and has lived in Nigeria and France, did an ESSEC Global MBA and went on to find an exciting position as an operations manager at Amazon France.

She says she is “thrilled” with her new position and that the Global MBA was “a gateway” to the opportunity. “Along with its reputation, the program’s choice of specializations, the incorporation of hands-on learning through consulting missions brought balance to the academic experience,” she says.

David Pereira launched an automotive industry start-up after studying an Executive MBA at ESSEC. “From the recruitment team to the academic team, everybody made sure I felt comfortable and made me a part of a family,” he says.

With an open day experience that is now one hundred percent online, there’s never been a better opportunity for those wishing to attend a world-class institution of business learning. No matter where you are, or your current working hours, you can still fully access the wide range of workshops, seminars and Q&A sessions provided by ESSEC during their virtual Executive open days, between the 21st and 25th of June, 2021.

Looking to grow in your life and career? Sign up for ESSEC’s virtual Executive open days, taking place from the 21st to 25th of June, 2021

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UNIVERSITY

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year

It is looking increasingly unlikely that 'högskoleprovet' – an exam used by thousands of students every year as a way to enter Swedish university will go ahead – despite a government U-turn.

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year
In a normal year, 100,000 students sit what is known as the SweSAT or 'högskoleprovet'. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet) is normally held twice a year, but was cancelled in spring and then later in autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after pressure from opposition parties, the government last week said it would pave the way for the test to take place on its usual date in October in a limited format, open only to people who had not previously sat it.

Usually around 100,000 people sit the exam each year, around 40 percent of them doing so for the first time. The exam is not compulsory, but many people use its results to get into university, and it is seen as a crucial second chance for those who are not able to get accepted based on grades alone.

But any hope lit by the government's announcement last week was quickly extinguished this week, when university principals said it would still not be possible to organise a coronavirus-safe sitting. In the end it is up to the exam organisers to decide whether or not to hold it, so the government holds limited sway.

“They [the university principals] do not want to take responsibility for conducting the exam during the autumn, but would rather spend time and resources on conducting two tests as safely as possible in spring,” Karin Röding, director-general of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

“I have no reason to have another opinion,” she added.

“It appears to be the case that you are going to have to wait another few months before an exam can be carried out in an infection-safe way,” confirmed Sweden's Minister of Higher Education, Matilda Ernkrans.

Meanwhile the political pressure eased on the Social Democrat-Green coalition government to ensure the test could be held before the deadline for applying to the spring semester of university, when the Liberal party joined the centre-left in voting no to pushing for an autumn sitting. Last week there was a majority for a yes vote on the Swedish parliament's education committee, consisting of right-wing parties Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals, but after the latter switched sides the committee voted no.

The Mdoerates blamed the government for not acting sooner to help the exam go ahead, by for example allocating more money and investigating the possibility of using more venues.

“There is one person who is to blame. That's Matilda Ernkrans,” said the party's education spokesperson Kristina Axén Olin. “The government has handled it really poorly and now it is thought to be too late and impossible.”

Ernkrans argued that she and the government had done everything they could, including making sure that test results from previous years will be valid for eight years rather than the usual five, as well as allocating extra funding to make it possible to hold more than one exam next spring.

Swedish vocabulary

cancel – ställa in

test/exam – (ett) prov

second chance – (en) andra chans

government – (en) regering

semester – (en) termin (note the false friend – the Swedish word semester means holiday)

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