[photopress:Aoyama_Gakuin_University.jpg,full,alignright]This started in Japan but it has absolute relevancy to China. Professor Fumio Itoh, the dean of graduate school of management, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, seen in our illustration, believes Asia needs its own business school accreditation system.
As new business schools and MBA programs sprout in Asia there have been calls for more stringent regulations to maintain standards. Professor Itoh argues that because business schools across Asia have an entirely different approach to education from their counterparts in the west accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the US-based accrediting body, may not be relevant.
He said, ‘The AACSB takes a more quantitative approach, whereas in Asia a more qualitative approach is needed. For example, the AASCB says that you have to have a certain percentage of academically qualified faculty – PhD qualified and professionally qualified faculty.’
Prof Itoh is president of Abest21 – the Alliance on Business Education and Scholarship for Tomorrow – a grouping of business schools across Asia that one day hopes to establish an independent accreditation body. There is a growing sentiment that the region’s expanding economic clout – not to mention the manifold educational and managerial differences compared with the west – means that Asia needs its own benchmarking system.
Professor Itoh said, ‘Aoyama Gakuin Graduate School of International Management did not want AACSB accreditation. It took a year for us to explain why to the AACSB. The AACSB has de facto standards. But Asia has big differences in culture, in education – the AACSB did not understand these differences.’
Professor Itoh said China is thinking about establishing its own system. He said, ‘China is the fastest growing market and there is a lack of managerial-level people. Their business schools have to mature.’
Yoshito Hori, dean and founder of Globis Management School in Japan, says he is looking at various accreditation options. ‘It is a time and money-consuming process. Accreditation has to be a bit like Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s, in how they rate bonds. It has to be a fair and strict process. It might not fit with our philosophy.
‘In Asia, the focus is slightly different. Team-building is more important and making a contribution to society. When I graduated from HBS I just wanted to establish a company and become rich. My classmate and I bet a dollar over who would become richer faster. [After coming back to Japan], I realized there are other ways of thinking about things.’
As business schools across Asia mature, experts say quality programs will be differentiated from fly-by-night operations. And most agree that an increasingly confident Asia needs its own pan-regional benchmarking system.
Professor Itoh said, ‘Russia, Japan, Korea and China cannot abide by the AACSB’s standards. We have to adopt our own standards.’ It may well be that the standards adopted are not those advocated by Professor Itoh’s group. But plainly a standard which allows for cultural differences is sorely needed.
Source: The Financial Times
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