A question of standards


UCD SCHOOL OF BUSINESS:MBA students who want to be sure that they will get a good education, which is recognised globally, only need look at how the UCD School of Business is doing in world rankings

THE FIRST QUESTION most students ask when choosing a course is “how good is it?” After that they tend to think about recognition. There’s little point in going to the best course available if no one else thinks it is. Students who attend the UCD School of Business have little to fear on either ground. Not only is it generally regarded as the best school of its type in the country but it also enjoys global accreditation and recognition.

“We are the only business school in Ireland to hold accreditation from the American College of Business accreditation, AACSB (International), and the top European accreditation, EQUIS and AMBA,” says Professor Tom Begley, dean of the UCD School of Business. “We are among just 48 business schools around the world to hold this ‘triple crown’ of accreditation. This puts us in a group that is much less than 1 per cent of the total number of business schools in the world, which stands at some 14,000.”

EQUIS is recognised as the leading international system of quality assessment, improvement and accreditation of higher education institutions in management and business administration. The AACSB – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – is a global, non-profit making, membership organisation of educational institutions, businesses, and other entities devoted to the advancement of management education.

The AMBA (Association of MBAs) is an international authority on postgraduate business education. Its accreditation service is the global standard for MBA programmes and it accredits MBA provision at 168 schools in nearly 70 countries.

The accreditation process begins with a self assessment report carried out by the school. “We look at our strengths and weaknesses and the quality of our teaching, our programmes, research, professional staff and the services we provide,” Prof Begley explains. “EQUIS also emphasises how international you are and how well connected to the business community the school is. We have had the accreditation for the past 10 years and we have just had our latest review.”

The review involves the self assessment followed by an intensive peer review carried out by the deans of three other accredited business schools. “They spent three days here in September talking to everyone they could and verifying what we said in our self-assessment report. They were very impressed by what they saw. They were particularly complementary about the quality of our programmes and our professional staff. They also recognised that we are very international and well connected to industry.”

As a result of the review EQUIS renewed the school’s accreditation for a further five years. “We were very pleased with that as it is the most you can get. The majority of schools only get three years. We have the AACSB accreditation review coming again in a few years and we are very confident that we will meet the required standards.”

The accreditation is very important both to the school and its students. “If a student graduates from an accredited school they can have confidence that they have received the quality of training that a leading business school should provide,” says Prof Begley. “It also gives the school a higher standing internationally. It means that quite a number of schools are willing to send their students to us to study for a semester or two. Of course, they can find out for themselves the high quality we offer but the accreditation lets them know that in advance.”

Unsurprisingly, given its success with these accreditations, the school also does well on various rankings. “The Financial Times has a ranking of full-time MBA programmes around the world and we recently moved up from 98 to 78 in that. We are the only school in Ireland on the ranking and one of only 50 schools globally which have been on it since the Financial Times started them. In The Economist rankings we have gone up to 31 from 53 in the world. We are very pleased with our performance as there is a lot of competition out there and it gets tougher every year with more schools entering all the time.”

He is particularly pleased with the improvement in the Financial Times ranking. “Among the criteria used by the Financial Times are salaries and salary increments after completing the MBA. We have been working to bring up the quality of our MBA programme for some years and the fact that we are moving up this ranking shows that these efforts are now beginning to bear fruit. Continuous improvement is very much the name of the game in this regard.

“The business school industry, if you can call it that, is highly competitive. And it is global; we are not just competing with Irish schools. Students can chose where they want to go and about half of our MBA class is international so we have to be competitive. The accreditations and the rankings are indicators of our quality and we strive to offer the highest quality programmes possible to our students.”