One thing the world is not short of at the moment is predictions. Stuck at home for recent months, many people have had a lot of time to think about the future of business education, and much more besides. So why would you want to read another set of predictions? Seven years ago, EFMD and…

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Students responding to the See the Future study already knew the future would be different, that they would work longer than their parents and that they would need to reskill to stay in employment; they understood that a degree is no longer for life, that their future will not be like our past.

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The nature of the business school offer has come under particular scrutiny during the pandemic of recent months with many schools switching to some form of online learning.

The student experience of this move to online learning has been mixed. CarringtonCrisp and EFMD have run the GenerationWeb study for 13 years, primarily examining student views of best practice on business school websites. This year the study went further seeking student views on their experience of studying through the lockdown.

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Business schools already seem to have glimpsed at least part of what the future might hold, although making the change may be more difficult. Both faculty and professional staff say they want to work at schools that challenge world views by combining innovative and critical thinking, that encourage staff and students to challenge the status quo and think differently, that have a focus on social responsibility and if all this leads to their school being well ranked, that’s a bonus, but not a priority.

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Whatever tomorrow’s business school looks like, it will need to continue to help students advance their careers, whether that’s at the start of employment or as their careers progress. For students, investing in business education will still mean seeking a return that boosts their employability. Those from Africa and the Middle East are most likely to expect to start a business or work for themselves at some point in their life. Those from Central and South America are most likely to still expect to be working in their 70s; twice as likely as Europeans or North Americans, while those from South Asia are most likely to expect to move country to follow their preferred career.

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Traditional degrees are not about to disappear, but the content of these degrees, the way these degrees are earnt, the approach to study for these degrees and those seeking the degrees may all change in the next few years. Many undergraduates will still want to study on campus in a linear fashion, but a growing number may want to intersperse study with work, and may want all of their studies to be wrapped digitally, with some of their studies delivered at a distance.

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