Newly Accredited: Lahore University of Management Sciences on Earning AACSB Accreditation
Dean Alnoor Bhimani discusses the significance of his school, the Suleman Dawood School of Business at LUMS, becoming the first in Pakistan to earn AACSB accreditation.
In this blog series, AACSB spotlights business schools around the world that have recently earned AACSB accreditation. We ask the business school leadership about their journey to accreditation and what the new achievement means to them.
The business school featured in this interview, Suleman Dawood School of Business at Lahore University of Management Sciences, is the first in Pakistan to become AACSB accredited! Dean Alnoor Bhimani discusses the significance of this accomplishment and how it impacts the school’s international efforts—both for local graduates seeking placements abroad as well as for applicants from beyond the region.
Why was it important for your school to undergo the rigorous process of earning AACSB accreditation?
AACSB comprehensive business standards provide an excellent framework to assess and maintain the highest quality of business education. Therefore, achieving AACSB accreditation was important for us, as it would validate the quality of degree programs offered by our school. It would reinforce our school’s commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship, recognize our outstanding faculty, and enhance the demand for our highly talented graduates in today’s competitive marketplace.
The accreditation process has ensured that we fully incorporate best practices in the business education we provide. AACSB standards provide guidance in creating a culture of continuous improvement within the institution, which is proving beneficial. Furthermore, the accreditation process strengthens our processes in determining our school’s strategic direction.
We are delighted to be part of a select group of elite business schools that enables collaborations through which we can exchange ideas that foster innovation and growth. As a leading business school in Pakistan, achieving AACSB accreditation enhances the school’s global visibility and allows us to be part of an exclusive set of the world’s leading business schools. This new status will further enhance our international connections with both the education and corporate sectors.
What did you learn about your school through your accreditation journey?
Our accreditation journey provided a great opportunity for us to reflect on our current standing and where we would like to see ourselves in the coming years. AACSB’s mission-driven approach sharpened our focus on mission-linked activities to form a distinct identity and provided direction for school’s future initiatives. Also, the school’s vision, mission, and core values provided foundational guidance for developing the strategic plan. The accreditation process helped us review and rework current policies and practices to better align with the school’s mission and meet AACSB’s quality standards, while still remaining true to our values. The accreditation process required collective effort of all key stakeholders. The continuous engagement of and interaction with stakeholders helped us recognize and identify our strengths and areas for improvement. We as a school also identified several informal processes and procedures that, during the accreditation process, were systemized and formalized.
What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of the accreditation process?
One of the major challenges faced during the accreditation process was to get all stakeholders on board with a sense of individual responsibility and commitment. However, with time and effort, it was encouraging to see a high level of collective enthusiasm and solidarity.
Another challenging aspect of the accreditation process was dealing with the standards related to faculty qualifications. Developing faculty qualification and maintenance criteria took time to achieve consensus and wider acceptance. Furthermore, its implementation necessitated changes in various processes of faculty evaluation.
Developing and implementing the assurance of learning (AoL) program was another challenge. However, identification of program learning goals and subsequent development of consensus rubrics for each goal with respect to the school’s mission and vision was a rewarding experience. The school’s faculty benefited immensely from participating in AACSB workshops, seminars, and conferences, which helped broad-based understanding and buy-in of the AoL process. Initially, some problems were also encountered in implementing the AoL program, as a few faculty members resisted taking on additional responsibility of assessing student performance against program learning goals.
Through the AoL program, the school was able to implement a formal process of assessment of all degree programs. It greatly facilitated the program review processes, incorporating and implementing changes as part of “closing the loop.” Moreover, faculty, administration, and student engagement increased as a result of the AoL feedback.
The accreditation process has also heightened the school’s commitment to the AACSB themes of innovation, engagement, and impact. It is rewarding to see that various initiatives have been launched with the school to promote innovation and engagement and to create impact on business and the society.
What impact do you hope to see from having achieved AACSB accreditation?
Being the first business school in Pakistan to achieve AACSB accreditation is a momentous achievement not only for the school but for Pakistan as well. It increases our regional and international visibility, which helps in attracting high-quality faculty and student talent, especially from abroad.
We hope to enhance diversity and internationalization by increasing global connections and exchange programs with leading institutions. We expect that faculty collaborations with other regional and international scholars and industry partners will also increase as a result of enhanced global visibility.
AACSB accreditation will also facilitate greater international placement of the school’s graduates and expand its global alumni network. It will also enhance chances of acceptance of our school’s graduates wishing to pursue further studies or transfer credit to institutions abroad.
Having earned AACSB accreditation will also boost the school’s regional and global rankings. Achieving AACSB accreditation has reaffirmed the school’s preeminent position as a leader in business education in Pakistan. This substantiation has also increased our responsibility. We remain committed to playing an active role in promoting high-quality business education in Pakistan and the region.
What advice would you give to another school approaching the accreditation process?
Strong commitment by the school’s faculty and administration to achieve accreditation is absolutely vital. It is also important to have a committed team of faculty and staff to spearhead the accreditation effort. The team should create excitement about accreditation and make an effort to develop a spirit of solidarity and teamwork within the school. The process can often seem long and tiring, therefore steadfastness and perseverance is vital.
Having a well-articulated mission and remaining true to it with demonstrable evidence is a critical success factor. Also, regular communication and interaction with the school’s mentor, peer review team chair, and AACSB staff liaison is essential for guidance throughout the process.
Finally, I can’t stress enough how useful AACSB resources can be in achieving accreditation. Attending AACSB-organized workshops, seminars, and conferences provides a sense of direction and clarity related to the accreditation standards.
Alnoor Bhimani is dean of the Suleman Dawood School of Business at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.