[PaGaLGuY Article] Making sense of International Accreditations for b-schools

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In recent times, b-schools such as the IIMs, MDI, XIMB, ISB Hyderabad and NMIMS have been on a spree to collect international accreditations such as EQUIS, AASCB and more. How do these accreditations benefit the b-schools and the students studying...
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In recent times, b-schools such as the IIMs, MDI, XIMB, ISB Hyderabad and NMIMS have been on a spree to collect international accreditations such as EQUIS, AASCB and more. How do these accreditations benefit the b-schools and the students studying in them? We explore.



European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) are highly exclusive international accreditations. Presently there are 113 EQUIS and 555 AACSB accredited universities the world over. As far as Indian B-schools go, IIM Ahmedabad has been EQUIS accredited as recently as June, 2008 and no other B-school in India has been accredited by EQUIS or AACSB.

AACSB examines an institute's mission statement and how far the stated objective has been met. The school's impact in industry, practice, teaching and in terms of management education is closely examined. EQUIS requires institutions to demonstrate quality in all dimensions of their activities as well as a high degree of internationalization. In this respect EQUIS accreditation is more demanding than AASCB.

It is interesting to note that it is only in the recent past that management schools in India have started applying for international accreditation. Prof Asha Bhandarkar, Chairperson (PGP-IM) at Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, explains this, "This is a direct consequence of the Indian economy opening up and going global. Earlier, Indian B-schools had the lacuna of being too 'inward' looking. In today's day and age, greater benchmarking is required and international accreditation of Indian B-schools is part of a bigger picture."

The reasons for so many of India's top MBA colleges applying for international accreditation are manifold. Prof Ajay Pandey, Chairman (PGPM) at Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, explains, "Earlier we had a limited presence in the international education arena. International accreditation is essentially an external endorsement which shows to the world that the institute and its programs are of a certain quality. It will also serve as an incentive for international students to apply to the institute's programs".

"Companies in future are going to give a lot of importance to international accreditations. Hence, accreditation of Indian schools will help students to secure international placements and also be hugely useful for PhD purposes", asserts Senior Advisor to Chancellor and Distinguished Professor at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Sstudies (NMIMS), Dr Rajan Suxena.

Coming down to brass tacks, what are the explicit changes that one may see in a business school post accreditation and what specific deliverables do sudents get out of it?

Prof Pandey of IIM Ahmedabad comments, "There will be no direct immediate impact on students. Accreditation serves as a strong signal about a B-school's quality and in the long run, the profile of the institute and its students will improve."

"International accreditation will not affect the school's India operations. It is simply a validation of the correct processes being in place. As far as changes go, international placements and job opportunities at MNCs would improve for students. Presently, tie-ups between the IIMs and accredited international universities exist. After accreditation, the institute also gets the opportunity of launching its independent programs in foreign countries. Hence more revenue generation is possible for the accredited institute," explains Prof Prashant Salwant, Chairman of International Business area and Indian Multinational center at IIM Indore.

"International accreditation of Indian B-schools could and in fact would lead to an increase in fees", adds Dr Rajan Suxena.

Presently more of India's top business schools are in the process of securing exclusive international accreditations. International certifications will undoubtedly help us to gauge the true quality of management education in India. They would also improve the global reputation of schools which are revered in India but known little outside the country. As far as the impact on students is concerned, as XLRI Dean Prof P Venugopal says simply, "Indian B-schools have never had a problem as regards intake!" Well, maybe international accreditations will help the intake to be just a touch choosy as regards to where its loyalties lie!

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