AACSB accreditation expected to help school of management develop opportunities, Zhu Lixin reports from Hefei, Anhui province
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, based in Tampa, Florida, on Feb 18 announced the latest eight institutions to earn its accreditation in business.
The University of Science and Technology of China is one of three universities from the Chinese mainland to earn the honor, taking the nation's universities with the accreditation to 12. The university's School of Management won the accreditation.
"As the world's best-known accreditation for business schools, the AACSB accreditation is expected to help us build a truly internationally prominent business school", said Yu Yugang, executive dean of the school at USTC.
A global, nonprofit membership organization of educational institutions, businesses, and other entities devoted to the advancement of management education, the AACSB was established in 1916 by business schools of some of the most prominent American universities, including Harvard, Yale and University of California, Berkeley.
Over nearly 100 years, the association has grown into the most renowned organization for business schools in the world.
So far, there are 727 member institutions with AACSB accreditation, and 48 countries and territories represented by AACSB-accredited schools, according to the organization's official website.
About 5 percent of the world's business schools now hold AACSB accreditation, but only 1 percent of business schools on the Chinese mainland are accredited, Yu said.
"I believe USTC is already a world-class university. We have an excellent reputation in physical sciences and mathematics, while people may have never heard of USTC's business school, namely, the school of management," said Murray Sherk, a Canadian professor who has worked at USTC for 20 years.
In light of the accreditation's status, USTC attached great importance to its application. "The leaders of the university and faculty of the school of management spared no effort in building the school according to AACSB's standards and responded quickly at every stage," Yu said.
The school officially began its application to the AACSB at the end of 2012. Sherk was assigned half-time to help the school apply for the accreditation, assisted by the school's entire faculty.
"After less than three years of hard work, we got it eventually, faster than we should have, so I'm very proud of us," Sherk said.
"The experts from the AACSB said the usual process for accreditation may take five to seven years, while we got it done in just three years," he said, adding that the association's evaluation process is rigorous.
"During this peer-review process, schools must show alignment with 15 global accreditation standards while demonstrating how they achieve success within each of the three pillars on which AACSB accreditation rests-engagement, innovation, and impact," said Robert D. Reid, executive vice president and chief accreditation officer of AACSB International.
The time in which the USTC school gained accreditation was the shortest of all the accredited business schools on the Chinese mainland, so it is expected to become an example for others that want to get accredited in the future.
"Sufficient preparation and quick responses contributed to our success, while our own strengths in research and education also counted", Yu said.
Though it is only 20 years old, USTC's school of management has integrated education programs that cover every degree level at international standards, including undergraduate, master's and PhD programs, and Master of Business Management, Executive Master of Business Administration and Executive Development Programs.
"Catching up with other top-notch business schools, part of our school's own strength lies in quantitative analysis, through which we have reached a lot of enlightenment on business administration," said Yu, adding that teachers have published many quality papers in influential journals.
USTC is known for multiple academic excellencies, especially for physical science, where a lot of innovative academic achievements have been made. Many of these are ready to become products.
For example, the university has built the world's first quantum communications network and employs many world-class quantum scientists, including Pan Jianwei, the university's vice-president.
High-level entrepreneurs and officials from across the country teach about 10 percent of the curriculum alongside cutting-edge scientists from the university.
"By asking scientists to teach some of the courses, we aim to give the students the most farsighted options for finding possibilities to combine investment with the most advanced scientific achievements," said Yu, who is also president of the university's Association of Young Scholars.
In recent years, the university, along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Anhui provincial government and Hefei municipal government have been working to build a Silicon Valley-like high-tech park in Hefei, where the university is based.
To build such a park requires insight and great effort, and the school of management, with abundant alumni resources, is helping raise funds.
That is just a small part of how the school helps the community. Currently in Anhui province, most local medium-sized enterprises and government departments have senior and intermediate executives and/or officials who are alumni of the school, according to information submitted to the AACSB.
After 20 years of development, the school has more than 10,000 alumni around not only the province and the country, but the world, including Wang Yang, China's vice-premier, and Zhang Ruimin, CEO of Haier Group, one of the world's largest home appliance makers and top 500 enterprises.
The AACSB highlights the mission of a business school when reviewing its qualifications, and USTC's school of management benefited from its clearly stated mission.
"Our mission is to generate ideas and tools to enrich management theory and practice, to develop talents and leaders to serve China," said Yu, adding that the mission is carefully formulated according to the school's vision and the motto of USTC, which is "being both ethically sound and professionally competent, and integrating theory with practice".
"We want to show that this school deserves to be in this world-class university", Sherk said.
The school's vision, as stated in its application, is "to be nationally and internationally recognized as a first-class business school in China, both in research and education".