Leading up to the XIII International Accreditation Conference 2020 on 5-7 November, Thothrathri Raman, Chair of the Standards for Educational Advancement & Accreditation (SEAA) Trust, shares his thoughts on quality improvement in higher education.
Make sure to attend the session of Nishit Jain, EFMD Global’s Special Advisor, who will be speaking on 5 November. See the full programme.
What is the end purpose of quality improvement? Simple answer. Student outcome through assurance of learning, assurance of a comfortable campus stay (now no longer relevant), networking and of course a lucrative career. Business schools after all have traditionally been seen as the last stop before launching on a career. Now that the situation is being reversed in that the career comes first and business education comes later, the schools have to unlearn their usual way of working and relearn to align with the requirement of the new world.
Life long learning, online flipped classrooms, distant mentoring, internships also monitored remote, exams being administered online, assessment done online, follow up with students online et., are a big challenge. Both technology developers and the users need to learn on the fly and also come up solutions to situations which are moving far faster than the solutions that could be found for mitigating the issues.
How are the Accreditation agencies which mentor the schools and nudge them on the path of higher benchmarked quality which is usually a moving target handling the emerging crises in Business Education. Like all academic institutions, even the accreditation agencies have also experienced slack business and are also now working towards improving their offering to match with the times. Leaders like AACSB in fact prepared a document titled A New vision for business education.
The report outlines a vision for a future where business schools are the drivers of change—where business schools change the narrative about the role of business education, and of business, in society. By collaborating with business schools, corporate leaders, and industry, AACSB is exploring how to best prepare the business leaders and innovators of tomorrow and asking its members and the business education community.
EFMD Global, in one of its blog post written by Associate Director Stephanie Mullins, from specialist business education PR consultancy BlueSky Education, says “It is important to cement the message you want to be associated with your branding now. Institutions with good branding will be doing well at present, despite being unable to host in-person events, as their brands already have a host of positive attributes associated with them; whether that’s a world-class research, successful alumni, or expert faculty.
This is why you should be working to build your institution’s brand through fantastic media exposure: If we do have to go through global crises, then an institution’s brand must be as positive and as strong as it can be.
In a survey that is being planned and which closes around 27 November, EFMD Global wants to study the impact of the current pandemic on the future of business education. The comprehensive Business School Impact System (BSIS) assesses an institution’s impact based on seven dimensions and helps institutions set new strategies and communicate clearly with their stakeholders. The current situation, however, has forced business schools to shift their priorities and adapt to meet the demand for new skills and embrace the digital transformation.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) International Quality Group has raised some key questions for presidents and chief academic officers as institutions navigate the challenging waters of accreditation and assuring quality. Answers to these questions provide a framework for quality at this time for your institutions and program. In the area of quality the association has raised four critical issues:
- Online Teaching and Learning: In this remote-access-driven climate, have you and your faculty engaged in discussion and decisions about the quality of offerings that are now online, e.g., curriculum, assignments, grading practices and robust interaction with students in various teaching and learning environments?
- Student Support: What is your engagement with students working remotely to provide connection, counseling and academic advising as needed, especially for students for whom remote access and online learning is a first-time experience?
- Finances: Many if not all institutions are facing significant financial challenges as part of the COVID-19 environment. What steps are you taking and what plans are you making to address these financial difficulties and in what ways is maintaining quality part of this discussion?
- Governance: What steps are you and your governing board taking to plan for the ongoing education of the students enrolled in your institutions for, e.g., summer and fall offerings as needed? How do we do the best we can to assure that students can continue their education at a level of quality you find acceptable and, as needed, complete their studies or graduate on time?
At the moment, everyone is panicking and looking for solutions. From which direction the solutions would come would also depend which question is are being put, to whom and to what purpose.
This the best challenge the business education faces today. They need to re-imagining their priorities, their idea of course, curriculum, pedagogy, the student profiles, the student assessment systems, the mentoring systems and such other and of course the way their career is to be approached especially in a prolonged learning environment that is emerging. This is not mention the new vector of credit aggregation which is fast picking up in the industry which would permanently alter the character of many of the business schools. There is much at stake for business education.