With an estimated number of 15,000 business schools worldwide, it becomes more and more challenging for prospective students to choose the right institution, especially as nearly 60 percent of future applicants seek to study outside their country of citizenship, according to the 2017 GMAC Prospective Students Survey Report.

Considering substantial financial commitment that enrolment in a business programme often entails and the opportunity cost of leaving the job market for one or two years in case of a full-time MBA, the right choice of a business school is critical. How can you pick one then?

There are various factors prospective students can look at while making their selection. Geographical destination, the school’s reputation, rankings, curriculum, career services, fees and scholarship options are just some of the pointers, but what do they say about the actual quality of the school and the experience students will enjoy whilst studying?

One way to find out is to check whether a school is accredited by a global accreditation body and meets internationally agreed quality standards. Why? Because a rigorous accreditation system doesn’t just pick on a few criteria that can vary immensely from year to year. It actually gets right to the heart of the school’s offerings, its ethos and value for students.

EQUIS – EFMD Quality Improvement System – is the leading international system of quality assessment, improvement and accreditation of higher education institutions in management and business administration. EQUIS has established its prestige and recognition worldwide and has accredited the top 1% – 174 institutions in 41 countries – since its launch in 1997.

EQUIS accreditation ensures a rigorous quality control, benchmarking the school against international standards in terms of governance, programmes, students, faculty, research, and foremost, internationalisation, ethics, responsibility and sustainability, as well as corporate engagement. EQUIS covers all degree and non-degree programmes offered by a school, from bachelor to doctoral studies, including executive education where appropriate. Simply put, it allows students to evaluate their prospective learning experiences before embarking on a course of study.

Quality is assessed by an experienced peer review team, composed of four members holding senior positions in the world of management education or with substantial experience in this field, which is a form of international benchmarking. Recognition comes through the award of EQUIS accreditation by an independent accreditation board. EQUIS is distinctive in including a senior practitioner in the review team, and in looking for on-going improvement following each accreditation or reaccreditation visit.

EQUIS looks for a balance between high academic quality and the professional relevance provided by closeEQUIS logo13 LR interaction with the corporate world. A strong interface with the world of business is, therefore, as much a requirement as strong research potential. EQUIS attaches particular importance to the creation of an effective learning environment that favours the development of students’ managerial and entrepreneurial skills and fosters their personal development and sense of global responsibility.

Gerard George, the Dean of Lee Kong Chian School of Business at the Singapore Management University, commended the value EQUIS brings to the international positioning and recognition of the school. “The EQUIS accreditation reaffirms the strong value proposition that we offer to all our students. It also firmly positions us in the ranks of leading business schools around the world, such as the London Business School and Judge Business School, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom; INSEAD in France; and IMD in Switzerland,” he said after the school was re-accredited by EQUIS in December 2016.

EQUIS also looks for innovation in all respects, including programme design and pedagogy. Institutions that are accredited by EQUIS must demonstrate not only high general quality in all dimensions of their activities, but also a high degree of internationalisation. With companies recruiting worldwide, with students choosing to get their education outside their home countries, and with schools building alliances across borders and continents, there is a rapidly growing need for them to be able to identify those institutions in other countries that deliver high-quality education in international management.

Acknowledged worldwide by potential students, employers, clients and the media as the most holistic and rigorous accreditation process, EQUIS accreditation is often a pre-requisite for entry to rankings, such as the Financial Times rankings. As Della Bradshaw, a former FT Business Education Editor, an authority and an influencer in the management education field, once said: “The gold standard for business school accreditation is a 5-year accreditation from EQUIS.”

Learn more about EQUIS at efmd.org/equis