In this semester, the Budapest Campus of the 111-year-old ESSCA School of Management welcomed 268 students from 15 different nationalities. They, as well as the institution, have to cope with restrictions and safety measures put in place due the new coronavirus epidemic.
At the Budapest Campus of the ESSCA School of Management, the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, as well as the preparedness of the professors and staff made it possible to react very quickly to the pandemic situation. “ESSCA was among the very first institutions that delivered 100% of the classes online right after the lockdown was announced. The questions of safety, compliance with the rules, maintenance of the continuity of education as well as the assurance of the highest quality of teaching are of the utmost importance,” Campus Director Professor Dr. Zsuzsa Deli-Gray tells Diplomacy&Trade.
As for the best practices applied during coronavirus epidemic, the professor adds that “the pandemic forced us to alter several aspects of our operation, from recruitment, teaching and exams to student life. In order to teach in an uncertain sanitary situation at a very high level, we have no choice but to be flexible and adapt changes as quickly as possible in a creative an innovative way. As there is a great emphasis on remote and hybrid solutions, we have to work more closely with the IT department in order to ensure that our academic programs are well supported. The professors have to be even more engaging as they teach and they need to find new, innovative solutions in order to maintain the interactivity of the courses.” They all attended trainings provided by the Advanced Pedagogical Institution of the ESSCA School of Management which aimed at showing how to deliver online courses in a creative way, how to define creatively challenging assignments for the students and how to evaluate students’ work online by ensuring that all competences defined at the beginning of the semester are checked and controlled. Virtual company visits and virtual cultural programs were also introduced into the curriculum.
All of the classrooms were redesigned in a way to ensure that the Campus can welcome the students offline, online or in a bi-modular form. This latter solution makes it possible that in case of a given sanitary situation, even if only half of the student group is in the classroom and the other half is following the courses from home – they all have the same learning experience, they can all participate at the classes at the same level.
“A very important element of the current organization of the semester is that we keep a very close contact with all of our students and we organize them several online meetings where they can raise professional and personal questions and remarks. They are all very enthusiastic about the variety of their courses as well as their international experience in Budapest. They all look forward to being able to continue their studies offline in some weeks,” she highlights.
When it comes to conducting online exams, the professor is of the view that there must be a certain level of flexibility from the students’ as well as the institution’s side. “The ESSCA School of Management was amongst the very few educational institutions who immediately introduced the usage of a remote computer-based assessment system after the outbreak of the pandemic. By the usage of this system, we managed to ensure that all of students could sit for their exams in a transparent and well interpretable set of conditions and to be able to control the students during the exams.”
The pandemic situation also raised issues in allocating students to internship positions and in organizing summer and winter programs ESSCA School of Management is well-known about. “The current situation has led to the cancellation of the internship programs at many companies, which unfortunately narrowed down the opportunities for our students as well. Nevertheless, employers are still eager to connect with students and many of them were able to offer virtual internships, and thus our students could also find internship positions at local companies,” Zsuzsa Deli-Gray explains.
After the successful online and bimodal spring and fall semester in 2020, the School’s short-term summer and winter programs were conducted fully online and were scheduled to suit all participating students regardless of their time zones.
Recognition by students
This past December, the Budapest Campus of the ESSCA School of Management proudly announced to have received a ‘Happy®AtSchool 2021 accreditation’. This accreditation recognizes a quality student experience and it is based solely on student feedback. The label measures student satisfaction in five areas: teaching, student life, quality of facilities and respect for the environment, strength of relationships with companies and trust in the future.
Professional Club events
The Professional Club of the Budapest Campus was established in 2018 with the objective of organizing interactive professional events. It covers a mix of topics that deal with questions relating to general management practices, sustainability, human capital management or business development. “These topics are always of great interest among students, academics and corporate partners as well, since the audience can hear authentic information from the invited speakers who are acknowledged professionals and experts in their fields. We organize these events in the form of ‘afternoon tea meetings’ where participants can get involved in lively discussions after the presentation delivered by the invited speaker. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have been holding the events online and try to make sure that the high level of interactivity of the events is maintained,” the professor explains.
“The pandemic rewrote the plans of our anniversary as well but even so, the series of events went exceptionally well with the active participation of all eight ESSCA campuses, students, alumni, faculty and staff. We celebrated with colorful programs, webinars, our own choreographed BirthDance, Anniversary Photo Shoot and a special online tailor-made exit room game. We also presented 111 portraits of alumni whose openness to the world, the diversity of their backgrounds, their commitment to serving society, entrepreneurship and innovation are the perfect illustration of what ESSCA represents,” she concludes.
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