Why do universities need accreditations? Why do they work so hard to meet their requirements? We invite you to read an interview with Timothy S. Mescon, Senior Vice President of AACSB, an American institution which accredits business universities.
AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited universities include business schools such as Harvard and Yale, as well as... our university.
The original inteview is available at perspektywy.pl
The following translation has been made with the consent from the authors:
The AACSB accreditation: a step towards perfection
Interview with Timothy S. Mescon, Vice President of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
- The AACSB accreditation is one of the most prestigious, only about 5 percent of business universities in the world hold it, which may give the impression that it has a „threshold too high” for Polish universities.
- Certainly not. Our accreditations have already been received by 831 universities from 54 countries and territories, and each year the accredited group grows by 25 to 30 new institutions. In the last five years, we have seen a definite increase in interest in obtaining the AACSB accreditation. For example, universities in Bosnia and in Morocco received their first accreditations.. The pursuit of academic excellence and its confirmation seems to be increasingly perceived as an important goal.
-In Poland, the AACSB accreditation can be boasted by only two universities: the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and Kozminski University.
- Exactly, and several more are in the process of obtaining the accreditation. I think that in 5-7 years, the number of Polish universities with the AACSB accreditation will increase. Currently, seven are in the process, but with respect to our principles, we cannot inform which universities.
- Since you talk about a perspective of 5-7 years in the future, can we assume that the process is long, and probably tedious?
- Acquiring an accreditation lasts, on average, around 4 to 5 years, maximum 7. In the beginning, each school defines its accreditation plan and steps to implement this plan. Along the way, they receive guidance and support from a designated mentor. It is influenced by many factors and the length of the process should not be identified with any problems, just one takes more time, others less.
- What are the basic criteria to be considered when granting an accreditation? How many of them are there?
- Currently, we consider 15 criteria grouped in 4 categories. Five years ago there were 21 of them.
- Which criteria did you have to give up?
- In general, we did not remove anything, we only adjusted our principles to the changing educational market, we simplified the system. Our assessment includes: strategic management and innovation, which means that the school has a clear mission and tries to fulfill this mission; the second assesses whether all persons important to the school (students, lecturers and professional employees) are involved in its growth; the third focuses on determining if the school has processes to develop and deliver an effective curriculum. The last one is to assess whether the school equally engages in the development of academic research and the development of the business community.
- We have been focusing on the recent years, but you have been active for over 100 years, since 1916.
- AACSB was founded in the USA. The founding members of our organization were Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Tulane University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska , University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Yale University.
We have already opened offices in Singapore and Amsterdam - thus showing our global presence. Currently, there are over 570 accredited institutions in the Americas. However, in addition to those that have already obtained them, there are over 200 business schools working on gaining accreditation outside the Americas.
-The procedure for obtaining accreditation is long and it requires a lot of effort. What is received in return?
- The list of benefits is long, hence the growing interest of the universities. Certainly, as part of the intangible, the advantage is prestige, belonging to an elite group. This opens up wider opportunities for international cooperation, promotion of a university or faculty, attracting international students and international staff. Accreditation is a pass to establish international cooperation in the field of research, scientific publications, didactics and exchanges. During the entire process, as well as after its completion, our organization actively supports accredited institutions. In addition, accreditation gives you the opportunity to find yourself in global university rankings or economic studies.
- These factors certainly increase the interest of Polish universities in the AACSB accreditation. The places held by Polish universities in global rankings still do not meet our expectations and aspirations.
- Similar motivations are also directed by institutions subject to accreditation in other countries. The attractiveness of the university to foreign students is at stake. Ireland fights for them, especially now, considering brexit. Small countries, such as the Netherlands or Sweden, are also focused on attracting foreign students. China is pursuing a very aggressive policy in this field, too. There is something to fight for - international students are highly valued today.
The Erasmus + program alone is 4 million international students looking for the best places to participate in the exchange.
- In your opinion, Polish universities and faculties should not have any uneasiness when it comes to applying for the AACSB accreditation?
- Of course not - success is a result of determination and consistency in action. Recently, for example, we gave our accreditation to Lagos Business School in Nigeria, operating in a very difficult environment. The University of Sarajevo, which did not have any funds from the EU, did a great job to obtain accreditation, too.
-Meeting the requirements of AACSB requires the efforts of all interested parties, from the rector or dean, to the administration staff. Certainly there is no universal formula, but what can be considered as a good basis for this process?
-The process requires involvement on the part of persons at the higher levels of the institution. The entire department and all professional staff should be deeply involved in the process of quality improvement. Finally, and most importantly, receiving an accreditation requires time, patience and perseverance.
- Let's hope that Polish universities will make sure to keep to that... Thank you for the interview.
Interviewed by: Anna Wdowińska