Posted on May 29, 2020

AIGAC 2020 Virtual Conference- the Key Takeaways on Changes amid COVID-19

MER (myEssayReview) attended the AIGAC 2020 Virtual Conference last week, along with 66 AIGAC members and 50 school representatives from the top European and US Business schools. The interactive sessions with school representatives in Breakout Rooms, and panel discussions on crucial topics such as the impact of Covid-19 on admissions, leveraging technology by business schools in program delivery, and admission and program trends in recent times offered us valuable insights from the prime stakeholders of the business school ecosystem in these unprecedented times. The three first -time initiatives this year were the Tech Showcase by Business Schools, Dean's Keynote panel in which deans of 3 business schools (IESE, Ross, and Duke) discussed their vision of the future, and the impact of COVID-19 on admissions, and Applicant fair in which 700 + applicants were brought together on one platform with consultants, and admissions representatives.


Here are some key takeaways from the conference:


Tech Showcase by B-Schools/Steps Taken to Leverage Technology:


To meet the demands of time, the schools are continually taking various measures to make student experience meaningful and rewarding both in and outside of the classroom. Here are some of the steps they have taken:

  • Different scenarios have been tried for virtual classes:
  • Professor in classroom and students attending the class virtually,
  • Professor operating from home and students attending the class virtually, and
  • Professor in the classroom- some students in the classroom and the rest of the students attending the class virtually (hybrid format). (IESE)
  • COVID Academic Committee has been established.
  • A guide detailing the procedure of using virtual class methodology was created for the Professors and the related staff. (IESE)
  • The virtual classroom can accommodate up to 80 students
  • The virtual classroom has boosted student participation, making the students extremely interactive. (IESE, Fuqua, and IMD)
  • The schools have successfully conducted virtual events. This year, Fuqua three days physical Blue Devil Weekend for the admitted students was planned for one day in its virtual format. The event attended by around 300 students included welcome by the Dean, Tour of the campus, Housing fair, a virtual fun video of a tour of Durham, some games, committee clubs, etc. (Fuqua)
  • Students have created programs and have volunteered to teach students of the local community about virtual instruction. (Fuqua)
  • IMD revamped its one-day assessment day through Zoom. They did an assessment challenge with 60 students at one time with 11 assessors for 20 students.
  • However, students did face some challenges with virtual instruction, such as sitting in front of a computer for a class of 4 hours, attending classes with family, and time zone challenges. Once the conditions become viable for physical classes, the schools will revert to in-person classes.


Changing Global Circumstances Amid COVID-19 (US B-Schools)


In panel discussions regarding updates on the next academic year amid COVID 19, the participating schools (CBS, Kellogg, Wharton, Haas, Darden, and Stanford) shared the following insights:

  • The schools will start virtual classes in Fall, and in-person classes next semester in January 2021; students who are not able to make it to the campus by September due to travel restrictions or visa issues can come by January 2021
  • Internships will be an integral part of the curriculum
  • The schools are anticipating more deferrals, and they will give deferrals on a case by- case basis.
  • Some schools may consider increasing the class size (CBS, Ross, Darden, Wharton, Duke) while some may not (Haas)
  • All schools are working tirelessly to promote diversity in the classroom
  • Most schools are not anticipating any 'major' changes in the application requirements (essays and deadlines); Kellogg will continue with the same essay questions, Wharton will update the essay questions
  • They will not waive off GRE/GMAT but will accept online GMAT /GRE test scores.
  • If some applicants are laid off due to the current global crisis, the schools will not hold it against them. Such applicants can submit LORs by the previous employer.
  • Schools are trying to create more organic conversations through virtual information sessions.
  • There is no downsize of applying now in Round 3/4 to applying in the next application season.
  • They are keeping higher than the normal waitlist.
  • Most schools have suspended all international components from their courses in response to the ongoing crisis.
  • Regrading recruitment, the schools think that the opening of digital channels would enable companies to find talent


Changing Global Circumstances Amid COVID-19 (European B-Schools)


Following are the updates/ insights provided by some participating European schools (HEC, Cambridge Judge, SDA Bocconi, Imperial, and LBS):

  • Schools are following the hybrid approach. Students who can be in the classroom in the Fall will be there; those who cannot be in the school will start online.
  • Schools will promote diversity. To manage diversity, they can expand January intake. (HEC)
  • The schools prefer that the students learn the local language.
  • Under the new visa policy of the UK, the graduates can stay in the UK for two years after completing their MBA.
  • The schools are happy to help students with internships; some schools shared that 50% of students have paid internships
  • The schools will actively use the waitlist.
  • Some schools may tweak the essay questions (Judge, Bocconi) while some would continue with the same essay questions for full-time MBA (LBS and HEC).
  • They will allow deferrals on the case- by case- basis.
  • Regarding recruitment, schools are networking with companies. The companies were using virtual channels before COVID as well.
  • It is difficult to predict if the next application season will be more competitive or not.

Overall, all the participating schools (the US or European) are continually adapting their recruitment strategy, program delivery, and future plans in response to the changing global dynamics, while maintaining their academic standards. They see more opportunities coming out of the online environment. The schools are adaptable to incoming students' decision to start online as well as in person. Though there is a lot of uncertainty due to COVID-19 and presidential elections, the schools are preparing themselves well to adapt to changes and provide students as much certainty as they can. They would do everything in their power to enable the students to achieve what they want to achieve.

The school reps agreed that the coming year would be great for a full-time MBA - online or hybrid- and encouraged students to apply if they thought it was the right time for them to pursue an MBA. Students applying this year will get exciting experiences, and two years later, they will emerge as young leaders who can navigate through any kind of challenge/crisis. The schools are looking for resilience, the ability to improvise and overcome adversities- as these traits are more appropriate now than ever.

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your application for the 2020-21 application cycle? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of  Top Programs- 2019-20

25 Video/Chat Interviews of Successful MER Students

MBA Application Updates of 50 B Schools Amid COVID 19