UAE - Health & Education
Director, SBS Swiss Business School
Hemant Kumar has a PhD in finance and began his career at the University of Mumbai before moving to the UAE 27 years ago. He is the Director of SBS Swiss Business School.
It is a great advantage to be operating in the UAE, as this country has given me many opportunities to experiment, expand, and do much better business. I have been here for the past 27 years, which means I have the experience of understanding people in this country and the opportunities the government provides to expatriates. Before I started this business school, I was a faculty member myself for 17 years, which gave me an opportunity to understand what was required, and to fill the gap in the market accordingly by offering affordable, quality education. We have been very successful, having now expanded to Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The opportunities inherent to the business sector in this part of the world are considerable, provided you offer the right kind of program and you understand the target audience. The average age of our MBA students is 36, and so they are all working professionals. We provide them a flexible, affordable, and quality education and they understand and appreciate our efforts.
I do believe that, except for technical education like engineering or medicine, education will be delivered using technology. Since the pandemic started, we have been delivering the program online, using Microsoft teams, and I believe this is the new future. I doubt that business schools will really exist in brick-and-mortar format. Business programs will be delivered online, saving people time and money. Since March last year, we have been giving classes online, and we consider this more practical as it saves people’s time and there is no difference at all in the quality of delivery.
Our campus is in Ras Al Khaimah spreads over an area of 15,000sqm, and we were the first in the Emirate to obtain a branch campus license. We will continue to use that facility to attract students, although the future of business programs is online. Students can see the affordability, flexibility, and quality of what we offer, which they find appealing, and there are no physical boundaries preventing them from joining the school in Ras Al Khaimah, rather than opting for other physical campuses.
I am very optimistic that all sectors are set to boom, including the business sector, and because of the unprecedented situation due to the pandemic, the future is rosy for all sectors given the greater opportunities available. Working from home is going to stay, and there will be less real estate being built. We allowed half of our staff to work from home during the pandemic and they were effectively giving the same output as they would be in physical offices. Certain ways of operating are set to change, but I am highly optimistic about the future for all the sectors including education, at least for the next two to three years as we were very restricted in terms of movement and functionality.
In order to retain our accreditation and our brand campus license, our regulators require that we have a physical entity for compliance. However, I do not see much of a future for business programs in the physical campus model. Technology is going to make people’s lives easier in terms of flexibility and affordability. If more and more people join the program that will reduce the cost of having physical infrastructure. The benefit could be vast for students and stakeholders alike. I have started witnessing many universities and business schools begin to use this model, whereby they are now able to recruit across the globe.
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