AACSB: 2020 Standards now released

By 29th July 2020Resource

AACSB: New 2020 Business Accreditation Standards released

As anticipated, July 28th 2020 saw the release of AACSB’s newly approved 2020 Business Accreditation Standards.  This has been the culmination of two years of dialogue and review.  The new standards represent a streamlined, principles-based framework and provide flexibility for the Business School of the future.

QED will be providing plenty of guidance (including a series of webinars planned for the Autumn) – but  – for now – what are the key things you need to know?

What is the key difference between the 2013 and the 2020 standards?
The 2020 standards have a principles based approach –  providing some flexibility for different types of business schools and the changing needs of business schools into the future. This gives more scope for business schools to adapt to the individual requirements of their School.

Is that not just another way of saying that the standards are ‘easier’?
No – absolutely not!  Many of the same standards and targets apply – but there has been a huge effort to streamline the standards (now 9 standards, instead of 15) and to ensure that a focus on principles means that Schools continue to align with the ‘spirit’ or ‘intention’ of each standard in a way that directly supports high quality practices and processes.

For Schools that are already ‘in the process’ or are accredited, what areas are important to flag as potential areas for change?
There are several key areas of change and QED would always recommend that the School makes space for staff to become familiar with these.  Areas to which particular attention might be paid include:

  • Language changes: For example, students are referred to as ‘Learners’.  Instead of ‘learning goals’, the standards talk about ‘learning competencies’.  N.B. It is important to review the definitions provided by AACSB whenever relevant – as terminology and the meaning of words can vary internationally.
  • More detailed guidance around collaborative provision partnerships – and whether the related programmes fall in-scope or out-of-scope (part of the AACSB philosophy in the prequel to the standards);
  • New requirement (and standard) for ‘Engagement and Societal Impact’ (new Standard 9);
  • More attention paid to risk planning, including a formal risk analysis;
  • Faculty tables to be organised by ‘Discipline’ (not department or programme etc).  This is likely to be an easy transition for many schools, but potentially difficult for others….! It will highlight any short-comings in the academic underpinnings for individual subject areas within the School.  However, Schools have more flexibility in deployment of faculty, once the standard is met at the discipline level.
  • AoL: Schools are encouraged (and expected) to have a combination of direct and indirect measures – depending on how best to assure learning for each competency within a programme.

When do the 2020 standards become effective?
AACSB has established a transition time frame and all Schools with an interest in AACSB accreditation or re-accreditation should be aware of this. The transition time frame uses the Peer Review Visit as the key ‘transition point’ and Schools will need to work backwards from there to establish the point of planning and transition within the School.

  • 2020/21:  Only Schools with CIR visits that have been accepted onto the initial pilot phase will be accredited under the new standards between January and June 2021.
  • 2021/22: Schools expecting Peer Review Visits between July 1 2021 and June 30 2022 can CHOOSE whether to be accredited under the 2013 standards or the 2020 standards
  • 2022/23: Schools expecting Peer Review Visits between July 1 2022 and June 30 2023 can CHOOSE whether to be accredited under the 2013 standards or the 2020 standards.
  • 2023/24 onwards: Any school expecting a Peer Review Visit from 1 July 2023 will be required to align with the 2020 Standards.

Any school that is currently in the initial accreditation process, and expects to have a peer review visit after July 2021 should consult with their AACSB Staff Liaison to discuss their preferred transition time

Where can I learn more about the new Standards?
The new standards and AACSB’s Interpretative Guidance document are good places to start.  All of the new documentation is available on AACSB’s website.  Of course, AACSB will be rolling out a comprehensive set of learning events, to support Schools’ transition to the new standards.  In addition, QED will be partnering with RimaOne in Autumn 2020 to provide a set of three free webinars, targeting key areas of focus within the new standards.  QED will also be providing in-school workshops and briefings (virtual events, and – when travel permits – on-site) – tailored to the specifications of each client.  For any information on QED webinars, briefings or workshops, please contact QED directly.

For advice and further details on any of the above, please contact the QED Accreditation Team at info@QEDaccreditation.com.