EQUIS 20th Anniversary – Blog Series
Do internationally formulated accreditation standards apply to schools in the African context? Piet Naudé, Director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), evaluates his experience.
When I arrived at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) in 2014, I had at that point not had experience of specific international business school accreditation processes. My experience was limited to external national accreditation of professions like Engineering, Architecture and Industrial Psychology.
I was somewhat hesitant about the upcoming EQUIS process as I assumed it could lead to a situation where internationally formulated standards are simply applied blindly to schools in an African context. This could have a homogenising effect on schools that attempt to respond to their context in a mission-specific way. And it could reinforce the hidden idea that a Western “centre” determines what happens on an African “periphery”.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised at both the spirit and the actual work done with us by a very professional review team. The team consisted of experienced business school colleagues with a good grasp of the realities and constraints under which we operate. They were well prepared and gave detailed attention to our self-reflecting report, creating a base for meaningful questions and interactions.
The peer review team, furthermore, acted in a spirit of true academic and collegial peers by pointing out the many strong points at USB, urging us to exactly strive for contextual impact and relevance. This was hugely encouraging as at that point USB had been without a full time Dean for 18 months, and the colleagues worked under huge stress.
The peer review team also assisted us in identifying important areas for improvement. The value of external reviews is that one is able to see aspects of yourself that under the pressure of operational requirements, slips your eye and your mind. The team also created opportunity for us to determine improvement areas ourselves, with clear targets set over the subsequent years.
The accreditation process therefore confirmed our resolve to be a contextually based African Business School that plays an international and global role by adhering to the broad quality standards set for schools around the world.
The full five year re-accreditation empowered us to increase our strengths and to ensure that over time we also addressed some of the short-comings. This is the whole idea: Continuous quality improvements for giving better service to our students, alumni, business partners and civil society.
EQUIS had really helped us to confirm our vision to be an African School of global repute.
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