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Standing out from the crowd - Kemmy Business School

The importance of accreditation is that it allows entities to stand out from the crowd, but few elevate to a higher class altogether. 

The Kemmy Business School (KBS) and University of Limerick is now ranked amongst an elite group of third level institutions offering world class business studies – something that has really set them apart. 

AACSB International added KBS to its accreditation list and now join only 5 per cent of the world’s business schools in achieving this award. Founded in 1916, AACSB is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools, and the largest business education network connecting students, educators and businesses worldwide.

According to Professor Philip O’Regan, former executive dean at KBS, “accreditation is becoming one of the big markers of quality for business schools, so in a market where we are trying to differentiate ourselves, accreditation is increasingly important”.

With 17,000 degree awarding business schools globally, “it’s a big market and we are competing with not just the traditional competitors in Ireland, we are competing internationally. 

“So the more markers of quality that differentiate us from our competitors the better,” says Professor O’Regan. 

Professor O’Regan explained that KBS developed a strategy several years ago under his predecessor Professor Donal Dineen “to pursue the three principal business school accreditations that are available – AMBA, which is specific to our MBA programme, AACSB which is the most globally recognised business school accreditation and EQUIS, which is the European equivalent, and is next on our list. Each have their own features and characteristics but they are the three global brands that distinguish business schools from one another – and we have two out of the three. I am very happy with that.”

In gaining the AACSB accreditation, KBS has been recognised among the institutions that have demonstrated a focus on excellence in all areas, including teaching, research, curriculum development, and student learning.

We have been very successful thus far and it was unusual that we were granted the AMBA accreditation for five years as it is normally only given for three years, but it gave us the confidence to pursue the AACSB marker. 

“AACSB is a much bigger beast and the accreditation is given to the University and not just the business school, but the business school is the mediator on behalf of the University.

“What is very attractive about the AACSB, apart from its pedigree and its global recognition, is that it is a very fair accreditation. It requires you to identify your mission – and it is quite specific in terms of research, quality of teaching and engagement with communities – and then to show how you pursue and achieve that. That’s hugely important as it asks the school to show what we are claiming to do and be. They will come in, check and audit that, and if you do what you claim to do you will get the accreditation.

"So it is very fair and open and we fully engaged with it. Staff in KBS engaged with it wholeheartedly because a seven-year commitment is a long time for the team that led it. While all staff were involved, Ita Page, Michelle O’Dwyer, Sheila Killian, Michelle Carroll, Kathleen Keane and John McCarthy were very prominent right from the start. And our many course directors also played key roles.”

Synonymous with the highest standards of quality, AACSB accreditation inspires new ways of thinking within business education globally and, as a result, has been earned by only 5 percent of the world’s schools offering business degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher. 

Today, 856 institutions across 56 countries and territories maintain AACSB accreditation. 

“We are extremely proud of this achievement, and our engagement with AACSB has been a very useful process,” said Professor O’Regan. 

“AACSB accreditation is most definitely a reflection of the exceptional work that takes place throughout the Kemmy Business School and a recognition of the efforts of all KBS stakeholders, but especially our staff and students.”

AACSB accreditation provides a framework of 15 international standards against which business schools around the world assess the quality of their educational services. These standards ensure continuous improvement and provide focus for schools to deliver on their mission, innovate, and drive impact. AACSB-accredited schools have successfully undergone a rigorous review process conducted by their peers in the business education community, ensuring that they have the resources, credentials, and commitment needed to provide students with a first-rate, future-focused business education.

The benefits of our combination of accreditations, according to Professor O’Regan, is that it “places us in an even smaller pool of about 2 percent of business schools in the world. 

“This is a fantastic calling card to go into international markets and say ‘if you want to know how good we are, here are the measures that are accepted internationally, come study in Kemmy Business School’. There is no further argument or distinctions of quality that we need to make. That is sufficient.”

Professor O’Regan says that the global reach of attracting international students now stretches both east and west. 

“We can go to America, to the Far East and we can go to Africa and other important markets and AACSB and AMBA establish our credibility.”

There is a group of about 80 schools with the triple crown of awards, Professor O’Regan said, “and we are very close to that calibre with the two we have.” 

Alongside partnerships with other accredited schools, KBS is also partnering with industry in its educational needs. 

“Companies, national and multinational, that we already deal with will be reassured that we have the marks of quality and we can further our relationships to provide industry-focused, industry-led and industry-based learning. 

“The next big play for us will be executive education where you are dealing with non-traditional programmes or short programmes for executives and senior management. 

“It is in that context that accreditation will show its real strengths.”

Professor O’Regan added that the KBS and UL will continue to supply a “pipeline of talent, but through our accreditations, we can offer so much more”.  -  Andrew Carey 

See more on the Kemmy Business School at UL here

Here are some of our Kemmy Business School PhD graduates from the January 2020 graduation ceremonies talking about studying at UL.