Coronavirus impact: IIMs defer start of academic session, shift to online classes

Coronavirus impact: IIMs defer start of academic session, shift to online classes

To make up for the lost time, IIMs are contemplating on delaying the start of the academic session by a few weeks, at least for now

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There is no sector that coronavirus hasn't impacted and India's premier management institutes are no exception. The lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus has led many B-schools to cancel their classes, exams and postpone internships.

To make up for the lost time, IIMs are contemplating on delaying the start of the academic session by a few weeks, at least for now.

"Academic calendar is attuned to a certain cycle and the lockdown has happened right at the time when institutes have exams or internships. For graduates, this is the month they enter the workforce. The timing couldn't have been worse," says Amit Karna, Associate Professor of Strategy and Chairperson Placements at IIM Ahmedabad (IIMA).

IIMs are deferring the start of their academic session by a few weeks. IIM Ahmedabad is currently deferring it by two weeks, "We are taking one step at a time. For now, two weeks should be ok," says Karna.  He adds that due to exceptional circumstances they have made adjustments to their credit system where they will accept six-week internship, instead of the usual eight weeks.

IIM Udaipur too will delay the start of the ongoing batch and the incoming batch. "It is easier to manage the one-month delay in the ongoing batch, the closing of their session then just moves from March to April," says Janat Shah, Director of IIM Udaipur.  

He adds that the bigger concern is for the new batch. "A delay now will mean reduction of the duration of summer internship next year. A two-week delay is manageable though."

IIM Udaipur starts new batch around 20-30 June and the second year students resume their session in 1-7 June. "We are now hoping to start both the sessions by first week of July but, we are keeping all this open," says Prof Shah of IIM Udaipur.  

IIM Kozhikode is prepared for a month's delay. Debashis Chatterjee, Director IIM Kozhikode says that, "it is very likely that academic year will shift by at least four weeks or even more."

"We will shift some content to online so curriculum will be easy to cover as the number of physical classes will reduce. But if it is more than a month, we will have to revise the calendar for the entire year."

He explains that it is not just about altering the academic calendar but also pushing for new modes of learning, pedagogy and teaching that will lead to bigger, fundamental changes going forward.

IIM Calcutta is planning to start on the right time but use the initial weeks for online preparation programme to keep the students engaged. While the institute is starting the Executive MBA programme at the same time on April 20, it will first have online pre-programme preparation classes, followed by regular course sessions that are likely to commence on May 4 on campus.

Similarly, for IIM Calcutta's Post Graduate Programme for Executives for Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing (PGPEX-VLM) has been rescheduled to commence on April 20 instead of April 8, with plans to conduct courses in an online mode if necessary, said Director Anju Seth.

One of the key concerns for the incoming batch is that the majority of the students in IIMs are engineers, and IITs haven't yet completed their last semester. In some cases, exams are still due. That might also add to the delay, said people in the know.

Different institutes are exploring varied methods to ensure the quality of education is not compromised due to the disturbances.

Since most of the internships were delayed or the job roles were changed to facilitate working remotely, IIM Udaipur has created an alumni group of mentors to support the students during their internships.

"Businesses at this time would be pre-occupied so this alumni mentor group is guiding and supporting the students through their internship," says Shah. They have also created a repertoire of online courses on Coursera along with the webinars from faculty to make up for the shortened duration of internships.

"Besides changing our academic calendar for various programmes, we have expedited a successful transition to new models of online teaching in our programmes. We are watching the emergent situation closely and are ready with action plans for various scenarios to facilitate effective outcomes," says IIM Calcutta Director Anju Seth.

The directors are likely to meet over a video conference this week to take stock of the current situation and take a collective decision on the admission cycle for this year.

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