Since 1997, the EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) seal of approval has been awarded to economic educational institutions around the world. In contrast to other institutional business accreditations, the EQUIS accreditation deliberately does not require worldwide standardization of training programs. Instead, the EQUIS accreditation, which comes from Europe, should primarily include regional and national peculiarities.
The aim of the EQUIS seal of approval is to ensure quality assurance in international management training. In addition, the exchange of knowledge between the partner organizations is to be promoted through conferences, seminars, learning groups and with the help of information materials.
Standards and benefits of EQUIS accreditation
The EQUIS standards for international management training were originally inspired by the special needs resulting from the extreme cultural diversity of Europe. Nevertheless, the EQUIS standards can be applied to institutions in any cultural environment around the world.
The focus of the accreditation is the balance between high academic quality, an international orientation and a strong connection to corporate practice. Likewise, imparting an ethos of responsible management is expected.
The EQUIS accreditation comprises ten essential criteria that are checked in the accreditation process:
- Evaluation of the courses
- Context, leadership and strategy of the economic institution
- Selection of students
- Self-assessment of the institution in a report
- Peer review in which an on-site peer review is assessed and recommendations are made
- Qualifications and composition of the scientific staff
- (International) research activity
- Ethics and sustainability
- Connections to the corporate world
Optionally, executive education programs, if they exist in an institution, are also checked for their program quality.
Facts and background to EQUIS
The nonprofit organization EMFD (European Foundation for Management Development) awards the EQUIS seal of approval. The EMFD was founded in 1972 as a network of business schools and other institutions in Brussels. The EMFD sees itself as a catalyst to promote and improve excellence in management education in Europe and worldwide.
The EQUIS accreditation was created to simplify the quality assessment of economic educational institutions internationally and to take their institutional and cultural diversity into account. Nevertheless, no standardization of courses is expected. The EQUIS accreditation is seen as a quality improvement system that follows an ongoing process.
No particular business school model is preferred for EQUIS accreditation. EQUIS-accredited institutions include private business schools with a focus on master’s courses as well as business faculties at state universities or universities of applied sciences with bachelor’s or master’s courses.
A list of all EQUIS-accredited business schools is available on the EFMD homepage:
Structure and structure of EQUIS
The EQUIS accreditation scheme and the accreditation process are carried out by three main bodies – the EQUIS Committee, the EQUIS Awarding Body and the Peer View Team.
The EQUIS accreditation committee consists of academics and company representatives who decide on the suitability of institutions for receiving an EQUIS quality seal.
EQUIS Awarding Body
The stakeholders for quality improvement in management education evaluate the peer review reports from the peer review team and make a final decision on granting accreditation.
Peer Review Team
The Peer Review Team is made up of four members each, who all hold a leading position in management training or are otherwise qualified.
EQUIS: The accreditation process
The EQUIS Committee decides on the suitability of the institution on the basis of suitability criteria, the so-called eligibility criteria. The accreditation process takes place over a period of one to two years, in the best case the accreditation process takes 15 months.
The costs for an accreditation vary depending on the period of validity of the EQUIS accreditation, which can be awarded for three or five years. The accreditation process occurs in seven stages:
- Inquiry: The inquiry is being made.
- Application: The submission of the formal application (must be submitted at least three months before the next meeting of the EQUIS committee).
- Briefing Visit: A consultation appointment at which the EQUIS inspectors check suitability on site.
- Eligibility: Review of the eligibility criteria by the EQUIS Committee.
- Peer Review: An on-site inspection.
- Accreditation: Submission of a Peer View Report to the EQUIS Awarding Body.
- Continuous Improvement: Feedback on continuous improvement based on a mid-term report.
The application for reaccreditation with the EQUIS seal of approval by the EFMD must be submitted at least one year before the end of the accreditation cycle. The process under which the accreditation can be granted corresponds to a repeated accreditation process with the exception of the missing briefing visit. In addition, it is examined more critically which changes have taken place in the meantime. The costs for reaccreditation correspond to the costs for an initial accreditation.