September 30, 2007 5:29 pm

Ceeman revamps accreditation scheme

The Central and East European Management Development Association (Ceeman) has relaunched its International Quality Award accreditation scheme. It says the new assessment procedures will encourage schools to focus on the delivery and development of quality educational products within their specific environment and context.

“The original Ceeman International Quality Award has served our schools well for 10 years, but after a lot of thought and consultations we have created a new,
more consistent scheme which will foster creativity, innovation, diversity rather than conformity, continual self-improvement and relevance for the local context,” says Danica Purg, Ceeman president.

Speaking at the annual Ceeman conference, hosted by Istanbul’s Sabanci University. Prof Purg says the new system is complementary to, rather than in competition with, other recognised accreditation schemes, but that it is more tailored to serve the needs of smaller, developing schools within the association’s core region, which consists primarily of countries within the former communist bloc.

The new award scheme evaluates a number of elements not normally found in traditional accreditation schemes, most significantly the particular limitations newly founded schools in the region face in a fast-
changing environment.

“An American accreditation scheme does not pay any attention to the needs of the local market. But our review teams will be looking at what the school’s target market companies and student needs are and does the school recognise and meet these needs, both in its mission statement and practice,” Derek Abell, professor emeritus at ESMT of Germany and president of the new Ceeman accreditation board, says.

While traditional assessment criteria often stress quantity in terms of the number of full-time faculty, number of research papers published and range of facilities, “large numbers of full-time faculty may not be relevant for a school in Ukraine. The school could not exist. The IQA will examine whether the faculty and facilities provided are up to standard for the specific school mission”, stresses Prof Abell.

The assessment will also examine and encourage innovation in the education process, for example teaching styles, the development of materials and programmes, or curriculum design.

“I do not know any schools in the west that are like IEDC Bled School of Management [in Slovenia], for example. There they have launched a variety of MBA programmes designed to provide for the generation of managers that missed out on MBAs – they did not exist in this region when they began their careers. That is innovation,” Prof Abell says.

Other key areas in the assessment include management responsibility and ethics. While this has come on to the agenda worldwide, the standards of ethical norms and enforcement in the former communist countries, coupled with the chaos of transition, has often meant corners have been cut, according to Bohdan Budzan, director of the Management Consulting Centre, Ukraine, and director of the Ceeman IQA team. “Schools in former communist countries have to be more vigilant in this respect,” he says.

“There is a need to understand transparency, accountability and the implications of business decisions taken now on any possible share offering to be made in five years time. This kind of process and thinking are entirely new to management in the region and schools need to thoroughly address these issues,” adds Prof
Budzan.

The cost of the new IQA is expected to be €10,500 ($14,887) (£7,337) , more than double the previous fee, although Prof Abell says that this is only a move to reflect true costs. “We know this is a lot of money for some of the smaller schools in some developing countries, but it is still half the price of other schemes. We are essentially providing a brand that gives considerable value to any school that acquires it, so the price in terms of the business effect of the award is not really so much.”

Membership grows in the region

Ceeman has further expanded in the past year, attracting 16 new institutional members and bringing its business school membership to 113, up from 101 a year ago.

“I think the continually growing membership is a reflection of the quality and breadth of services that Ceeman provides. We serve a fast-moving region and deans tell me that what we offer, for example Imta [International Management Teachers Academy], our faculty development programme, fits their needs far better than what they find by building relationships with some of the big name schools,” says Danica Purg, president of Ceeman.

The new members include Polis University of Albania, Lahore University of Management Science, Pakistan, and Alba Graduate Business School, of Athens, Greece, all representing new countries in the Ceeman fold.

Vasilis Theoharakis, associate dean of the Alba School, says that with Greek companies playing a significant role in investment in the central and eastern European region, knowledge of business practices and student needs was particularly valuable in order to react to the market.

“We already have many students from central and eastern Europe, along with central Asia. In addition, we ourselves are a relatively new institution, just 15 years old, so we expect the interaction with other Ceeman schools will help us better understand the issues and common challenges we face,” says Prof Theoharakis.

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