EQUIS Accreditation: a level of quality

Professor Cornuel, could you tell us briefly what the EFMD is and what its role is in management education?

The European Foundation for Management Development (efmd) was founded 30 years ago as an independent not-for-profit membership association of management education providers and leading companies. It is Europe’s unique forum for information, research, networking and debate on innovation and best practice in management development.

As Europe’s largest network association in the field of management development, with some 400 members from academia, business, public service and consultancy in forty countries of Europe and the World, European Foundation for Management Development plays a central role in shaping the European approach to Management Education. Increasingly, however, its membership is drawn from beyond Europe as the business of management education itself becomes more global.

Efmd is financed exclusively by the fees paid by its members or by charges made to cover the cost of its various activities and services. These include Conferences, meetings, seminars, learning groups, etc., targeted at different audiences within the membership. In addition to the Annual Conference for all members, there is an important meeting of Deans and Directors of Schools and Universities, as well as special meetings for MBA Directors and External Relations Officers. On the corporate side there is also a series of events and meetings focussed on management development issues in companies.

Furthermore the efmd provides a range of information services including a newsletter and a quarterly publication called Forum. It runs a certain number of special projects, usually in collaboration with other organisations such as the Europeans Commission, as in the case of the China European International Business School in Shanghai, managed as a joint venture with the Chinese Jiaotang University.

Through these various activities, efmd strives to provide a platform in Europe to bring together leaders in the management education profession in order to reflect upon major problems that they have in common. The aim is to establish a learning community within the discipline. In pursuit of this objective, efmd does not limited itself to Europe, but seeks to serve as an ambassador for European values and practices in management education throughout the world. It works closely with representative organisations outside of Europe and participates actively in all major events of importance to our profession around the world. for instance the Global Forum, and of course AACSB and GMAC meetings.

Professor Cornuel. Could you also tell us about EQUIS? Why did the efmd launch this system of accreditation?

EQUIS has been created in order to provide a European system of quality assessment and accreditation. The fundamental objective, linked to the mission of the efmd, is to raise the standard of management educations in Europe, both individually for Schools and Faculties and systematically for national management education structures. It sets up a mechanism for leaders within the management education profession across Europe to agree on what constitutes quality standards in our profession. It facilitates standard setting, benchmarking, mutual learning, and the dissemination across borders of good practice. EQUIS has now accredited 4 institutions and more than 150 management education academics and professionals have participated in peer review assessments around the world. The impact upon institutional development and quality improvement has already been considerable.

EQUIS has not been designed to substitute for national accreditation systems, but rather to give recognition to institutions that, in addition to high standing in their own national environments, have demonstrated that they emerge as players on a wider national market. An objective of EQUIS, particularly in the early stages, was to contribute to the constitution of a European market for management education, over and above the series of compartmentalised national markets. Students and employers often know which institutions in their home country have a reputation for high quality, but they need some guidance as to which institutions meet the highest international standards in the wider European environment. With this in mind EQUIS was designed to help prospective students and recruiting companies from one country to identify those institutions in other countries that deliver high quality education for international management.

EQUIS is a European accreditation system, but isn’t it also true that it is having more and more impact globally?

EQUIS is European in the sense that it has been designed by Europeans and that it is managed by Europeans from a broad range of countries. Its scope, however, is global in that it provides a framework for assessing quality in highly diverse institutional and cultural contexts. Flexibility and respect for diversity are fundamental principles underlying the system, which is not constructed upon any particular model, Anglo-Saxon or otherwise. It is interesting to note that EQUIS has already accredited four non-European schools, including one in the United States. Among the 25 institutions that are currently in the accreditation pipeline, more than half are from outside Europe. EQUIS is fast establishing itself as a major international reference in the area of quality and accreditation.


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