Accreditation of Management Education Institutions
Since the early 1980’s business education programs have grown exponentially. With this growth has come a certain amount of confusion and, inevitably, a share of rogue organizations who try and "cash-in" on the desirability of such education. Accreditation of business education institutions is not a new process – the AACSB first drew up criteria almost one hundred years ago to assess business training proficiency. That said, accreditation has become more critical in the last two or three decades as it offers one solution to separating the good from the bad and so is a useful tool for prospective students in selecting appropriate educational organizations.
Accreditation is usually acquired by the business school asking for the assessment itself – and this is only likely to be done once they believe they can achieve the standards set. This means that they are a self-selecting group and importantly the assessment is always submitted to voluntarily. As such you cannot state that schools without accreditation are poor or failed (although they may be) – it could be that they have decided not to apply for accreditation for any number of reasons, or that they have applied but are yet to be assessed. The lack of accreditation proves nothing for certain. You can be much more certain, however, about institutions that are accredited. Not only are they clearly meeting the accreditation criteria but almost as importantly they also demonstrate a commitment and determination to meet such standards and a preparation to put up with the undoubted bureaucracy and hassle which is necessary to fulfil the assessment procedures. This perhaps illustrates an even more important element in their ethos than the simple fact of their attainment of the accreditation!
This is the "grandfather" of the business education bodies. Set up in 1916 and producing its first set of standards three years later. These standards have been updated regularly since then (the last formal revision was in 2003).
Gaining the AACSB accreditation is a daunting task. The Standards and explanatory notes run to over 70 pages; the process requires self-evaluation and a review of this through the AACSB followed by an on-site visit by a Peer Review Group. Once accreditation is gained it is then followed by annual data reports; an annual summary of strategic management and five yearly reviews of strategic progress. None of this comes cheap – the various initial charges can approach $30,000 and the annual fees are around $5,000.
All this, if successful, gains you the coveted AACSB accreditation and the right to use the logo on your literature. It should be noted however that the accreditation actually comes in two areas, business and accounting. Currently there are 633 schools with the Business accreditation and only 177 with the Accounting accreditation.
It is perhaps also worth noting that the AACSB in 2011, while open to institutions across the globe, is still very heavily US focussed. Of the 633 accredited Business Schools, 132 only are from outside North America, there are 49 in the Asia Pacific region, 58 in Europe, 11 in the Middle East, and 14 in Latin/South America, and currently no African representation. Of the remaining 501 North American schools only 19 are Canadian, leaving 76% of accredited AACSB business schools in the US. There is certainly great internationalisation of the AACSB accreditation - in 2007 87% of schools were in the US.
More information on the AACSB can be found at www.aacsb.edu or contacting them at their new world headquarters at 777 South Harbor Island Blvd., Suite 750, Tampa, Florida 33602-5730, Phone: 813-6500, Fax: 813-769-6559.
EQUIS was launched by efmd in 1997. It is probably the most international system of quality assessment, improvement, and accreditation of higher education institutions in management and business administration. Its stated objective is “to raise the standard of management education worldwide”. It facilitates standard setting, benchmarking, mutual learning, and the dissemination across borders of good practice. Although Europeans have designed it, manage it and it is based on a certain number of European values and practices, it maintains that its scope is global in that it provides an excellent framework for assessing quality in highly diverse institutional and cultural contexts.
The accreditation process is similar to that of the AACSB. That is the applying institution makes an initial application which is then confirmed (or not) by EQUIS. A self-evaluation report is then produced followed by a Peer Review visit – and finally an award decision is made. Again the process is relatively costly – the initial assessment coming to over €30,000 with annual charges thereafter
Only a third of schools making the initial application proceed with their assessments, and around one quarter of those making the full application are not approved. Currently there are 73 approved institutions from 26 countries (54 schools from16 European countries and 19 from 10 non-European countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Mexico, China, Singapore, USA, S. Africa & pan-Asia).
EFMD also hosts EQUAL, the international association of quality assessment and accreditation agencies in the field of European management education as well as national or regional associations of universities, business schools or graduates in Business Administration
For more information on EQUIS visit the efmd website or contact them at Rue Gachard 88, 1050 Brussels – Belgium, Tel: +32/2/6290810, Fax: +32/2/6290811.
CEEMAN (see regional and national management associations) has created its own quality assessment system. Initially directed primarily at the central and eastern European management institutions, IQA has evolved to encompass a wider market and to address the unique conditions and needs of local and national environments and emerging economies.
The accreditation approach is similar to that of both AACSB and EFMD. IQA emphasizes the school’s mission and its services to the business community. It looks for consistency and sustainability in the area of program design and delivery, the student body, faculty, new knowledge creation and customer protection. A significant differentiation point is that it aims to set and promote international standards for management development programs and institutions in the context of their respective mission and specific environments. Since 2011, the IQA guidelines have also encompassed a number of issues related to the Principles of Responsible Management Education.
Compared to the other procedures mentioned above, the IQA accreditation fee is still significantly lower, at only €10,500 (accreditation period is 6 years).
Currently (as of April 2012) there are 17 IQA accredited institutions with some 10 more in different stages of the accreditation process. All accredited members are located in the EU and CEE although interest has been expressed in the scheme from schools in North America, Asia and Africa. For more information visit the CEEMAN accreditation page.
There are a number of further accreditation institutions that are also growing in prominence. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) was established in 1988 and is recognised by the US Department of Education. It focuses on higher education institutions that have their main aim in teaching rather than research. As such its membership is largely constituted of more regional business schools, but ones that nonetheless are keen to attain high levels of teaching excellence. It currently has around 600 members of which 375 are accredited, 144 in the process of accreditation and the balance are currently just members; the member institutions are located across 45 countries from the Afghanistan to Venezuela via France, Spain and UAE - but the majority (some 476) are in the USA.
The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) was founded in 1997 in response to the expressed needs of presidents, chief academic officers, and heads of academic business units who wanted an accreditation process that was mission-driven and outcomes-based. At that time, the majority of the four-year colleges and universities in the United States that offered degrees in business were not recognized by the existing business accrediting bodies. Similarly, hundreds of institutions of higher education located outside of the United States were unable to obtain specialized accreditation.