‘AACSB accreditation gives B-schools an international stamp of approval’

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on February 06, 2019

TOM ROBINSON, President and CEO, AACSB International

Tom Robinson, President & CEO, AACSB International, on the accreditation process

Tom Robinson is President and CEO of AACSB International, which accredits B-schools globally, and is a sought-after accreditation in India.

The process is rigorous and, according to Robinson, can take five to seven years. Nine B-schools in India have received AACSB accreditation so far.

“AACSB’s accreditation standards stress the importance of active engagement with the business community and innovation in programmes to ensure graduates are future-ready and equipped for tomorrow’s business world,” said Robinson, who was in Bengaluru recently at the release of a study by NHRD and IFIM Business School titled Curricula 4.0: Creating future managers.

Talking to BusinessLine, Robinson elaborated on what makes the AACSB accreditation sought-after by B-schools around the world. Excerpts:

What makes the AACSB accreditation the gold standard that B-schools world-wide seek?

AACSB started accrediting schools over 100 years ago and we continue to keep our standards up to date. We go through continuous improvements and get B-schools take a close look at their processes, involve deans from other B-schools and bring in peer review teams.

We make recommendations on how B-schools can rework their processes, their curricula, and keep up with rapid change.

How many B-schools have you accredited as of now globally, and how long is the accreditation for?

About 830 B-schools have been accredited the world over. There are 15,000 B-schools in the world, and we accredit only the top 5 per cent. It’s a rigorous process and takes around five to seven years.

Once a school is accredited, we take a fresh look every five years. It’s not that they are accredited for life... they have to be re-accredited every five years.

What do B-schools need to do to get accredited?

Our standards look at the quality of inputs, quality of processes and quality of output.

On the input side, we look at faculty qualification; if they have the right academic or professional qualifications to be teaching students.

We look at assurance of learning processes: Does the school set programme objectives based on the requirements of the business environment? And how do institutions continuously check to make sure students are learning what they’re supposed to be learning?

On the output side, we look at how many students are placed after graduation and where they are five years after placement.

How many B-schools are in the pipeline in India for accreditation?

Nine have been accredited and 17 are in the pipeline. We have 53 member B-schools and many more may end up with accreditation.

In the past 12 months we had four more B-schools accredited; they are IIM Udaipur, SPJIMR, NMIMS and IFIM.

From the 17 in the pipeline I would expect three or four more to be accredited in the next year.

Is accreditation an expensive process?

We are a non-profit organisation. The fee for the process is fairly modest. And the B-schools have to pay the travel expenses for the Deans to visit their campus.

But the real cost lies in acquiring the right faculty and improving processes.

As a rating agency how do you gain knowledge on current business practices to rate business schools?

We have a network of 1,600 members and each has a business advisory council. There are projects, such as at IFIM, where they collaborate with industry on the skills required.

So we share ideas across the network.

You would think that B-schools are very competitive, but they are very willing to share what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and what can be improved. So, it’s possible for us to improve the quality of business education for everyone.

How does accreditation help a B-school?

It helps improve their processes; that’s what the Deans tell us.

If you are a local student you would know what the best schools are, but if you are looking to attract students from other parts of the world, you need some sort of international stamp of approval; that’s what AACSB does, provide the stamp.

And for the business world, we are trying to get the message across on why it’s important to hire from accredited business schools. For some rankings, like the FT rankings of B-schools, you cannot be ranked if you don’t have an international accreditation, either from AACSB or EFMD, an European accreditor similar to us but smaller.

Published on February 06, 2019

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