Towards a Coherent Portfolio of Quality

Chris Greensted

Senior Advisors in the EFMD Quality Services Department

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Chris Greensted explains how the three EFMD quality improvement systems (EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF) are now designed as a portfolio.

The overall mission of EFMD is to act as a catalyst to promote and enhance, excellence in management development in Europe and worldwide. Given that there are reputedly more than 13,000 business schools in the world, this is not an easy task. It has therefore fulfilled this mission over the last 40 years by offering a range of services which have been developed primarily to meet the needs of its members. These services include offering a wide variety of conferences and seminars, research and information provision to identify and promote the dissemination of good practice, and the promotion of quality improvement in business schools through accreditation and other development services. These activities often utilise the expertise and experience of the members. As part of its responsibility to the whole management education sector, EFMD also sees its mission more widely in terms of going beyond the confines of its 800 members and, in principle, of opening its quality development expertise to any institution that wishes to partake.

Quality Services Systems

The Quality Services Department has provided accreditation services over the past 15 years. These services have the aim of improving management education in Higher Education institutions by establishing internationally agreed standards and assessing institutions against them. Institutions deemed to meet the standards are accredited and thus gain international recognition. EFMD accreditation is recognised worldwide by potential students, employers, other clients, and the media (often being a pre-requisite for entry to rankings). It is the process of striving to meet these standards that leads to quality improvement although such improvements may take time to develop.

The accreditation process is well established and consists of self-reflection and peer review followed by recommendations for improvement and, where appropriate, for accreditation. Peer review is based on the expertise and wisdom of senior staff of the member institutions. These people give their time to the process and share their knowledge with the institutions under review. This leads to mutual learning and sometimes to the development of partnerships. In turn this strengthens the EFMD network and the management education sector.

Beginning in 1997, the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) was designed to assess the quality of a business school holistically and to grant accreditation to those that met its exacting standards.

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