Not by rating alone

The role of ratings and accreditations in the activities of business schools as well as approaches to assessing the quality of business education were discussed on the third day of the 10th Gaidar Forum. The discussion was moderated by Sergei Myasoedov, Director of the Institute of business studies and Provost of RANEPA, and Danica Purg, President of CEEMAN.

“This is war. But this is not the war you are thinking about. The ratings and organizations involved in the accreditation of business schools compete in one indicator – this is the time of business leaders,” George Iliev, Director of Development Markets, AMBA, began his speech with this statement. He compared the ratings with bamboo – a plant that has a long stem visible from a distance, but short roots, since ratings having a significant weight in society are based on a very limited number of criteria. George Iliev compared the accreditation with a grapevine – a low one, because the media do not usually speak about it, but with very deep roots. “When we conduct accreditation, we take into account 300-400 different quantitative and qualitative factors, criteria, and indicators. But based on the accreditation data, it is impossible to make a rating, because there are too many factors,” said the Director of Development Markets, AMBA.

According to George Iliev, accreditation, like the vine, is bearing fruits – the consulting services that the management of business schools need so that they can implement the necessary changes and build the work of the business school in accordance with international standards. At the same time, he stressed that business schools need to have individuality: “Rating is like a beauty contest. All contestants are beautiful, but they all look alike. If your business school is really strikingly different from others, you do not need to compete with other schools, because people will recognize you even without the beauty queen crown,” said George Iliev.

Sergei Myasoedov raised the question of mixing scientific-oriented biennial magistracies with MBA applied programs in Russia. He noted that the majority of consumers believe that these two are the same, and urged to explain the significant difference in the programs to the students and select only those who have entrepreneurial potential for an MBA program.

Andrew Jack, head of the Financial Times rating department, agreed with this statement, stating that MBA programs should be aimed exclusively at the training of business professionals. “Business schools should shape the image of a new leader, develop managerial, communication skills, soft skills, and motivate students,” said Andrew Jack.

Danica Purg paid attention to the fact that when evaluating business programs and schools, ratings mainly take into account only quantitative indicators, such as graduates' salaries, number of publications in scientific journals and international relations, which does not reflect the efficiency of education and drives schools into narrow framework. The president of the CEEMAN association also noted that international ratings often do not include excellent schools from developing countries for political reasons. Danica Purg stressed the need to revise the criteria for assessing the quality of business education in the ratings according to the real needs of the market, according to the experience of the CEEMAN association.

BusinessBecause editor Marco De Novelis added that, when choosing a business school, in addition to its position in the ranking people watch for other factors, such as accreditation, programs provided, recognition and local reputation, and cost of education. Marco De Novelis also noted that the credibility of the ratings falls, as they often do not reflect the real quality of the programs in business schools. In his opinion, ratings should move away from graduates' salaries as the main criterion for assessing the quality of education in business schools and focus on the achievement of individual career goals by graduates.

The president of the Russian MBA League, Yuri Tazov, spoke about the Russian experience in creating the People's Rating of Business Scools by MBA.SU. The key difference of the rating is that it is based on the opinions of graduates and implies minimal participation of the estimated business school. The rating is based on four criteria: income growth, career growth, level of professional connections, and personal and professional development of a graduate. The most important principle of the rating is the openness of the data on the criteria: the consumer can rank business schools in accordance with the criterion that is the most important to him. Yuri Tazov also noted that in the people’s understanding, the position that the business school occupies in the rating speaks about its reputation, and applicants often start collecting information about the school, focusing on ratings.

Deputy Director of Expert RA Sergey Yermak presented his version of the assessment of the quality of business education in Russia. “We called our research not a rating, but a“ map ”of the global visibility of schools. Facing the growing global academic mobility, we evaluated business schools from the perspective of foreign students who receive education in Russia. In our opinion, the demand for Russian schools at the international level shows how developed business education is in Russia as a whole. We are based solely on objective indicators. Any of our calculations can be easily verified,” said Sergey Yermak. He also noted that more and more Russian business schools are becoming popular on the international market, their publishing and partner activity is increasing.

Commenting on the issue of ratings openness, Professor of the RANEPA Veronika Kotsoeva noted: “Ratings provide information for reflection, and for reflection to be objective, the client needs to understand on the basis of which criteria the rating was formed”. According to Professor of the RANEPA, ratings are beneficial for business school customers, as they serve as the starting point for collecting information about the school, and for business schools, because the position in the rating speaks about their status, for and the rating agencies, which are trying to include the most eminent schools in their A list to maintain customer confidence.

Concluding the discussion, the experts agreed that the focus on accreditation and ratings hinders the most important goal of business schools – the constant modernization of educational programs and their orientation towards real market needs, and called for the development of new methods for evaluation of the business education efficiency.

Natalia Vasyanka, RANEPA

All records of live broadcasts from the Gaidar Forum 2019

10th Gaidar Forum Organizers:

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA);
The Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute);
The Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Prosveshcheniye publishing house, Coca-Cola, Pharmstandard group, ACIG Group of Companies, the Russian Textbook Corporation, SANOFI, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Russian Railways, MSD, and Mastercard; EY, Cisco and Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners. This discussion’s partners are Philips, Cherkizovo and RVC.

The general information partners of the Gaidar Forum include the Rossiya 24 TV channel, Forbes global media company, RBC and TASS news agencies. The official information agency is Rossiya Segodnya. The general radio partner is Business FM. The strategic information partners are Kommersant Publishers, the RT TV channel, Interfax and Gazeta.RU. The main information partners are Profil weekly, FederalPress news agency, and Invest Foresight online magazine. The international information partners are Sputnik and Cision. Other media partners include PRIME news agency, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, RNS news agency, Radio Ekho Moskvy, News.Ru,, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, the PRO BUSINESS TV channel, Strategia magazine, AK&M, BRICS, Ekonomika i Zhizn weekly, National Banking Journal, Expert Tatarstan magazine, the Smart Country information platform, Financial One, Naans Media, and the Public Administration scientific political journal.

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