I am a current NOVA SBE Master in Management student, but I am posting under a different name because I am just about to graduate and I donít want to start any drama or risk retribution. Iíve thought a lot about whether or not to write this (because itís against my incentive to criticize the university Iíve paid for and am getting a degree from) but honestly, I donít want other people making the same mistake as me so I felt it was the right thing to do.
TL;DR: Coming to Nova was a waste of my time, money, and energy. I have learned very little, but experienced a great deal of frustration in the process. The university marketing materials and its seemingly high rankings over promise and underdeliver. I regret my decision to come here. If youíre Portuguese and you want to stay in the country for your masters itís probably the best choice but for everyone else, look elsewhere. For specifics read below.
1. The Program Administration is Disorganized and Dysfunctional: Most emails I sent with basic questions were not answered and Iíd have to send numerous follow up emails or call them if I wanted a response. Even more frustratingly information given can sometimes be incorrect but youíll still be penalized if you act on that incorrect information. Little to no academic counseling is provided and students often make simple scheduling mistakes or miss one of the many small but mandatory modules and are then required to attend or pay for an additional semester. While itís difficult to fully explain just trust me when I say that navigating their bureaucracy and poor organization is an entire class within itself.
2. Most Professors are Not High Quality: Though the university markets itself as international all of my professors were Portuguese, most of them elderly with little to no professional or educational experience outside of the country. Of my professors only about half spoke English at a high level. Though they generally could read off the slides with no problem many would become visibly flustered when asked a question and not be able to give a good response. For some professors if you wanted a good answer youíd need to ask a Portuguese person to ask it for you. Additionally, most professors are on long term contracts with the government and cannot be fired or transferred. They know this, behave accordingly, and you can imagine what the results look like. Expect professors to occasionally skip classes, provide extremely narrow times in which they are available in office hours, not learn their studentís names, go on vacation during final exams so theyíre not available, etc. Additionally, itís possible that you may experience professorís casually making inappropriate comments such as hitting on female students or making jokes about racial/national stereotypes.
3. Grading is All Over the Place and Feedback is Minimal: When you submit an assignment or essay, grades are released in a simple PDF document. There is no individual feedback given and the actual criteria by which the assignment has been supposedly graded is often not released before or after the assignment. Sometimes graders will have a half hour or hour-long session (often at inconvenient times of day, like a Friday night or Monday morning, in order to discourage students from attending) where everyone can see their paper and ask questions. However, graders rarely remember your specific paper and usually just seem to make up a few reasons why you received the grade you did if you enquire. While I am used to getting good marks in my bachelorís I quickly stopped trying very hard because my grades did not seem correlated with the effort I put in or the level of the quality that I put out. In fact, many students I talked to even felt that the grades they received were so seemingly random that they wondered if their papers had been read at all.
4. Facilitates and University Services are Embarrassing: No heating or air conditioning. Very few places to study. Crowded and uncomfortable classrooms without space to write. Old projectors that donít show the materials well. Cafeteria services that are very crowded with long wait times. The list goes on. I was honestly shocked by how bad it is. They are opening a new campus next year and I 100% commend for that, as itís desperately needed, but itís not going to magically solve all their problems. For example, the few computers that are available to students to use are very old and slow and still run Windows XP (which is now 17 years old). Iíve been to ďtop tierĒ universities in poor and developing countries with far better facilities.
5. Class Concepts are often Outdated and Heavy on Theory: Professors often lecture off slides that are 10+ years old and rely heavily on theory. Professors are often not aware of changes in the industry or simple industry specifics. If they do try to occasionally make a topical comment itís usually something very simple and surface level that sounds like a headline in an Economist article thatís a few years old. With some exceptions, donít expect to learn much practical or current information in the classroom. Most of the things you learn in class will not add value.
6. Too many more to list and Iím sure youíre already bored.
Summary: Nova SBE is basically self-study except you have to pay tuition, you donít get to choose what you learn, have to navigate a lot of bureaucracy and jump through hoops, and the things youíre taught are often outdated and donít add value. Itís ironic that while this is a business school many of the things the university does are the exact opposite of best practice. Were this university operating in an open market with competition they would have gone out of business a long time ago. Even more frustratingly, though students pay for nearly the entire functioning of the graduate school with their tuition they are often not treated with much respect by the very people whose salaries they pay for. Ultimately, Iím not disappointed in Nova SBE for being a crappy university. Most universities in the world are crappy. Iím disappointed in them for falsely advertising themselves as a high quality, global university when they are absolutely not. Thereís a lot of smart, creative, and hardworking students at Nova who could be out actually learning or contributing to the world but have instead lost their time, energy, and money to this institution. While the university is certainly making progress and I am very optimistic about their general direction, until significant modernization efforts are made and best practices adopted I cannot recommend them in any way.
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