Business school accreditations

A message from the Executive Dean (Faculty of Law and Business) Professor Therese Joiner:

Course accreditation is a very resource intensive activity of the university but also a vitally important part of externally validating and communicating course quality and promoting a process of continuous improvement. The Faculty of Law and Business holds numerous professional accreditations; however, the international accreditations held by business schools around the globe and their significance are less well known and understood.

To help broaden understanding of the two main international accreditations relevant to business schools and their importance, for this column I spoke with the National Head of the Peter Faber Business School (PFBS) Professor Susan Dann.

Susan, there are two key international accreditations for business schools: one coming out of Brussels in Europe (the European Foundation of Management Education, or EFMD) and the other from the US (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB). Can you tell me about your most recent accreditation of the Bachelor of Commerce by EFMD and what this means?

Susan: The EFMD accreditation focuses on programs. As the flagship undergraduate program in business, we nominated the Bachelor of Commerce (B Com) and its majors for accreditation. EFMD accreditation focuses on quality in the context of three key pillars: internationalisation, corporate engagement, and perspectives on ethics, responsibility and sustainability (ERS).

EFMD accreditation gives the B Com global recognition based on international benchmarking and enables ACU to access the resources of an active community of best practice from higher education institutions worldwide. From a student perspective, the accreditation provides assurance that the program achieves benchmarks for industry and global engagement, ethics, and that quality is infused across the whole degree, including its associated support structures.

Accreditation can be awarded for between two and five years. Following the accreditation process last year, the B Com was awarded the maximum possible five years’ accreditation. This is a significant quality stamp for the B Com and ACU.

What about AACSB? Some people say it takes six years to obtain. Is that true? Why does it take that long?

Susan: Most accreditations are based on a snapshot in time. AACSB on the other hand requires proof of sustained improvement against nine standards (within the key themes of engagement, innovation and impact) based on multiple cycles of review, refinement, implementation, and further review. The school needs to go through at least three cycles of assurance and reporting before accreditation can be considered.

Also critical to the AACSB approach is demonstrated evidence that the School’s programs and activities are mission-focused, and all decisions are mission-aligned. This approach allows AACSB to admit a wide and diverse range of institutions. For ACU, the integration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Catholic Social Thought into each unit reflects the school’s and the university’s mission commitment to sustainability and the Catholic intellectual tradition.

At what stage is the Peter Faber Business School at on this pathway?

Susan: The School is more than halfway through this process and well ahead of schedule. After our application for eligibility was accepted, we submitted our initial self-evaluation report. This was accepted in late 2019 when we were appointed a mentor to assist us through the remaining processes. We are currently awaiting feedback back on our first major report. Once this is accepted, we can start planning for the formal accreditation review visit which is scheduled for 2023.

In the meantime, we continue with the quality assurance cycles, especially with regard to assurance of our learning and academic staff profile to maximise our chances of success.

What are the benefits of AACSB for the School and ACU?

Susan: AACSB is the ‘gold standard’ for business school accreditation and a mark of quality which is recognised worldwide. Achieving AACSB accreditation provides potential students, especially international students, with a global benchmark.

Many AACSB-accredited institutions – including a number of key ACU international partners in Europe, Asia and the US – will only engage in student exchanges, research and other academic activities with business schools that are AACSB accredited. Increasingly, job adverts are specifying candidates from AACSB-accredited schools, so achieving this status is crucial not only for the School and university but for our students, graduates and academics as well.

Thank you so much, Susan, for demystifying international business school accreditations.

If you have questions or are interested in further understanding these two accreditations, you can contact Professor Dann at

Susan Dann

National Head of the Peter Faber Business School (PFBS) Professor Susan Dann.  

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