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The Future of Business Schools

19.09.2018Comments are closed.

Danijela Voljč, MA

is Head of the International Relations Office and Director of the Confucius Institute Ljubljana at the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

There are ongoing discussions in the academic world on the future development of business schools. In recent years, university management teams have gathered at conferences in an attempt to define the business school of the future with a relevant impact on society.

Based on your own business school experience of more than 20 years, how would you describe the future model of a business school? Which best practices from around the world can be used to develop business schools 10 years from?

At first, we must know who our students will be in 10 years’ time. These are currently 10- or 11-year-old children who know everything about technology, are very keen on smart phones, know how to get information and work with computers. On the other hand, they do not socialise very much. The university of the future will be a place where they meet each other physically and socially and learn how to work in teams and solve problems together, not as individuals. It will be a challenge for those teachers who believe teaching will be the same as it is today. There will be less lecturing, more coaching and greater emphasis on communicating with each other. That is my business school of the future. It will look physically the same, but the context will be quite different. Even today, some universities are adapting to millennial students. There is less lecturing in class, greater use of web seminars and quick learning so that students do their homework and reading at home and come to classes to discuss with each other. These classes are smaller and more intercultural.

Which graduate competencies will be most important in the job market in 10 years’ time?

Again, what will be extremely critical is how well they communicate and interact with each other, especially if coming from different fields. It will also be very important how well they can function in intercultural teams. Their approach to problem-solving will be crucial as well.

Business schools around the world are seeing high levels of internationalisation. What do you think is a smart strategy for the future internationalisation of schools?

In the future, there will be less internationalisation than today via exchange programmes. There will be more short-term than long-term visits. We will see a shift from the western part of the world to the east. Why? Because in 10 years there will be greater job opportunities and more newly developed jobs in the east and students will prefer to study in a country where there are job opportunities. This will occur in the east, especially China.

Traditional teaching methods are on the decline as new technologies emerge. What will future teaching methods of business schools look like?

I think the future business school will be interdisciplinary. It will attract students through modern technology. Again, the problem will be socialising so the schools will have to deal with challenges like how to work with each other in teams, and how to get students to participate in class discussion. This will require the teacher to become a coach and guide the students towards a better quality of life. They will be offered courses like philosophy, sociology, anthropology etc.

Will business graduates also start studying technology in response to the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution and the great need in all professions for technologically skilled workers?

I don’t think they will study technology as such, but will have some courses that introduce them to technology to help them understand how engineers think since they will all need to work together. Business students will become businesspeople possessed with knowledge of technology.

The United Nations and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals highlight the vast impact of such schools on society. How can business schools find ways to make a greater impact on society?

The United Nations is planning to build a global university of the United Nations. The emphasis will be on online work. Only online courses will be provided, but they will be strongly integrated into everyday life. Facilitated by modern technology, the courses will be very interactive, allowing students from all over the world to participate in this world university. National universities will survive. And their impact on society? They will have to work very closely with industry and respond to what the market needs to ensure a pertinent impact.

What is your highlight of the 2016/2017 academic year?

I note our summer school was particularly successful, an activity that is still going and expanding. Also successful was the summer school for doctoral students, postdocs and practitioners organised together with the University of St. Gallen. I am very happy the University of St. Gallen has joined us on this path.

For more stories look into the Yearly Review 2016/2017.

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