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Volcanic Ash Disrupts Attendance at European EMBA Programs

Business schools throughout Europe have felt the impact of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption as its ash has interrupted the flight plans of students travelling to and from executive MBA (EMBA) programs from France to Switzerland to the United Kingdom, the Financial Times reports.

Last week, France’s INSEAD had to cancel two short enrollment programs because not enough participants were able to make it, according to the FT report. “The worst thing for us is students that don’t show up,” INSEAD Dean Miklos Sarvary told the paper with an eye on his bottom line. But because most of those managers will participate in a future version of the program, Sarvary believes the school’s revenues will only be affected in the short term.

Ash from the Icelandic volcano also prevented international participants from reaching EMBA programs at IMD in Switzerland, according to the FT report. About 10 percent of students – most from Japan and the U.K. – failed to make it for last week’s programs, IMD Dean of External Relations Sean Meeham told the FT. Most have signed up for a later program, though, Meeham added.

Other business schools, such as the U.K.’s Ashridge, also reported decreased student numbers as well as “misplaced” faculty – professors who were stuck in one place when they were needed in another. “I have faculty in Dubai, Geneva, Istanbul . . .,” Kai Peters, Ashridge chief executive, told the FT. “I have a customized program beginning in Brazil, but the faculty can’t get there, and open enrollment programs are running in the U.K. but the students can’t get here,” he said. Student numbers at the school were down 30 percent last week and 10 percent for the month, he continued.

In Spain, where airports mostly remained open, business schools were less affected, the FT reported. IESE in Barcelona did not cancel any programs, although a customized program for Banco Santander was missing participants from the U.K. who couldn’t get there.

U.S. business schools also have faced fewer problems. At Harvard Business School, faculty was unaffected and only a small number of executive students failed to make it for EMBA programs. Likewise at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia, EMBA programs continued as scheduled, with about a dozen students unable to make it. Wharton did, though, postpone three week-long custom programs in Europe because of the air traffic restrictions, Jason Wingard, vice dean for executive education, told the FT.  

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Posted in: Part-Time/EMBA News