Jargon Buster: What does Accreditation Really Mean?

You’re choosing a higher education course and want to make the right decision. You’ve likely checked out the local area, the campus, the course structure, the rankings, and the student experience. But there’s one term you might see next to a university course and think – what is that? Accreditation.

At Kent Business School, we’re often shouting about being a Triple Accredited Business School, but what does it mean for students?

Validation

The dictionary describes an accreditation as ‘the act of certifying an educational institution or program as meeting all official formal requirements of academic excellence’. In other words, an impartial organisation has spent time rigorously checking everything about an institution and rubber-stamped it.

“Accreditations are a kite-mark of quality,” explains Dr Catherine Robinson, Deputy Dean of Kent Business School and acting Head of Accreditations. “They offer reassurance that the School not only provides the acceptable content of a degree, but excels in key areas of provision.

“The processes are rigorous, internationally judged and regular to ensure that accredited business schools are not only excellent but LEADERS in the business education community on a global scale.  Being part of that community ensure we are able to share international experiences with our local stakeholders – businesses, students and communities.”

The Best of Business Schools

Our recent EQUIS accreditation was an assessment of our School overall. To receive EQUIS accreditation, we worked hard to meet high standards in governance, programmes, students, faculty, research, internationalisation, ethics, responsibility, and sustainability, as well as engagement with the world of practice.

We are also accredited by AACSB International (AACSB) who describe their accreditation process as a ‘voluntary, nongovernmental process that includes a rigorous external review of a school’s mission, faculty qualifications, curricula, and ability to provide the highest-quality programs.’

AMBA, who also approved our School, suggest they ‘foster innovation in global postgraduate management education.’

Adding Clout to Courses

Accreditations from bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) to the Accountancy bodies like ACCA or investment organisations such as CFA Institute ensure that specific courses stand out from the crowd for quality, but they also offer added value for students.

Courses accredited by industry bodies often offer exemptions from exams and a qualification that is recognised instantly within the given industry. They may also provide extras such as regular networking events and access to mentors. The more accreditations a course has, the more added value you get, we have five on our BSc  Accounting and Finance course alone!

“Professional accreditations are specific to areas of study and demonstrate professional relevance of the materials you’re learning on your degree and ensure you’re fully up to date when leaving the course of the latest industry standards,” explains Dr Robinson.

Making a difference

Kent Business School, for instance, holds the Athena Swan Silver Award, which means we are dedicated to advancing the representation of women in various areas including business as well as professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students.

Our Small Business Charter Award looks at our relationship with SMEs (Small & Medium sized Enterprises) in the local area.

“The Small Business Charter demonstrates the important role that the Business School plays in facilitating our own and wider university engagement with SMEs as well as highlighting our direct contribution to local economic growth through student entrepreneurship,” explains Dr Robinson. “SMEs feed into our teaching, our research as well as our wider civic mission.”

Guarantee with Frequency

Accreditations are renewed regularly, often every three years or every five. Course accreditations are reviewed every academic year. This means you will always have clarity that as an institution, we are still holding up to the standards of our assessments.

“Accrediting bodies regularly update their standards and criteria, on the basis of the changing landscape of business and management. As part of these communities, we feed in with our latest developments and contribute to the direction of travel,” concludes Dr Robinson. “Regular visits ensure we maintain and build on the high standards we set ourselves.”

So, now you know what it all means, you’ll see that there really is NO downside to choosing a Business School based on its Accreditation-cred. It’s a good job we’re swimming in it at Triple Accredited Kent Business School, eh?

Read more about our triple accreditations.

Dr Catherine Robinson is Senior Lecturer in Applied Economics and Business Statistics and Deputy Dean for Accreditations & Medway at Kent Business School

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