Through the looking glass of accreditation strategy

In the first episode of the Quality Assurance Academy presents the HOW TO webinars, Julie Perrin-Halot, Associate Dean/Director Quality, Strategy & International, Grenoble Ecole de Management, dived deep into accreditation strategy.

Using questions from the audience throughout the webinar, Julie painted a comprehensive picture of accreditation strategy: Why do you think it is strategic for a higher education institution to engage in an accreditation process? What do you think institutions pursuing the short-term win are losing from the process? What is the impact of the accreditation process on the school? What resources are needed to begin an accreditation journey? How do you ensure not to lose your identity as a school when complying with accreditation standards? What is the added value of pursuing multiple accreditations?

Some of Julie’s key messages were that accreditation is not a thing per se. The accreditation label as such can be important because it authenticates quality. Only schools that put quality in the centre of the school’s strategy, however, will see the long-term benefits.

Are accrediting agencies pushing business schools in a mould? Isn’t there the risk that schools lose their distinctiveness in the process? Julie never felt accreditations were pushing the school to become something it didn’t want to be. Accreditations allow the school to work through their identity in a much more structured way. Accreditation can reinforce the distinctiveness of the school, reinforce its strengths, but it also pushes the school to look critically at its weaknesses. It offers the opportunity to ask the right questions and puts in place mechanisms that will help the school in the long-term. It ensures that mission, vision, strategy, internationalisation etc. are all aligned and consistent.

In Julie’s view, the potential value of multiple accreditations lies in the fact that they each bring their own perspective and focus. The school gets value out of each of them. There is some overlap or duplication, but it is therefore important to streamline the data collection. At GEM the data serve multiple purposes, not only accreditation.

On accreditation fatigue, Julie commented that this can indeed happen when quality assurance is not well integrated in the school’s strategy and processes. Provided the data collected for accreditation also inform the decision-making processes and the strategy of the school, it serves multiple purposes and the data collection becomes a continuous, ongoing process.

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