You may have noticed, for instance on RSM’s website, in the brochure or on presentation sheets that Rotterdam School of Management frequently refers to its ‘accreditations’. What are they and why are they deemed important?
Accreditation as such is nothing more than an official seal of quality on a certain product. In this case, it refers to dedicated organizations putting a seal of quality on educational programmes or on entire schools.
There are many accreditation institutions out there, like there are many different types of universities, schools and programmes. At RSM, we have chosen to focus on national accreditation and on accreditations for business schools.
Our national accreditation has been grated by the NVAO – the Netherlands-Flemish Accreditation Organisation. Schools that do not have this accreditation in the Netherlands are not entitled to offer legally accepted and protected degrees in higher education. As a consequence, almost all Dutch higher education institutions have it and those that do not are trying to get it.
AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, has its origin in the United States of America. Initially, it served as a means to distinguish between schools with no specific quality in business education and those who have. All US business schools that take themselves seriously have tried to receive AACSB accreditation and currently around 500 US schools have received it. Outside the US it is a different story. Canada currently has 18 AACSB accredited business schools, followed by the UK and France, each having 14. For US business schools, AACSB accreditation is rather common and is often not a sign of distinction. Outside the US however, AACSB is seen as an important merit. The total number of AACSB accredited business schools is slightly over 600, around 100 of them are located outside the US. For more information on AACSB accreditation and a full list of accredited schools visit the AACSB website: www.aacsb.edu/accreditation
AMBA (the Association of MBAs) is British and as its name suggests focusses on the accreditation of MBA programmes (business programmes for people with relevant working experience). You might wonder why AMBA is important then for the bachelor and MSc programmes offered by the schools. The reason for this is that MBA is commonly offered by schools with broader programme portfolios and that academic staff, support and facilities are shared within the entire school. Therefore AMBA accreditation for the MBA is also a sign of quality for the school as a whole. Currently 160 schools have AMBA. British schools are well-represented, as are schools in the British Commonwealth. More information on AMBA accreditation can be found at www.mbaworld.com
EQUIS, the European Quality Improvement System has been developed by the European Foundation for Management Development EFMD, focuses only on the accreditation of business schools and is the most international of the three main business school accreditations. EQUIS acreditation is very demanding with regard to the international ambitions and performance of schools – it is impossible to receive it if the school does not have a strong vision and mission on internationality. Staff and students should be international to a considerable level and and the programmes have to have a strong international flavour. 129 business schools in 36 countries are currently EQUIS accredited. As is to be expected, European countries are well represented in this list. The United States on the other hand is very under represented. This is explained partly by the dominance of AACSB in the US, but also by the international standards EQUIS requires, which are hard to achieve for most of the US business schools. So far, only three US business schools have obtained EQUIS recognition. A detailed overview can be found under www.efmd.org
Most business schools are proud to have at least one of these international accreditations and never forget to show the logo belonging to the appropriate accreditation in their external communication. Several schools have more than one of these accreditations but only an elite group of business schools have all three – commonly referred to as ‘ triple crown accreditation’. The Rotterdam School of Management belongs to this elite “triple crown group”, which currently includes only 30 business schools. RSM takes pride in displaying these three prestigious international accreditation logo’s in it’s external communication as they help us stand out among the thousands of business schools worldwide. As we say: only a few business schools matter on recruiters shortlists and RSM is certainly one of them!