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Continuous Improvement in Teaching and Learning

Learn how one U.K. business education network is promoting currency, relevance, and innovation in business instruction.

Business and administrative studies are consistently among the most popular degree subjects at U.K. universities, according to the Higher Education Student Statistics. Data from 2017–18 show that business and administrative studies had the highest number of students enrolled over a five-year period, with 342,970 total students in the most recent year. Additionally, the number of undergraduate and graduate business majors increased from the prior year, with a nearly 5 percent increase at the graduate level. Business education in the U.K. is big business, and in this area there is increasing emphasis on research, teaching, and knowledge exchange.

In the U.K., the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) is the public voice for business education. The organization is also known to many academics worldwide for its exceptionally insightful Academic Journal Guide. A scientific committee for the Academic Journal Guide, of more than 50 distinguished business scholars across more than 20 disciplines, regularly reviews and upgrades journal classifications on a 1–4* scale (4* is a rating of 4 plus distinction), providing highly useful guidance and insights to business school colleagues globally.

Recently, CABS, led by Anne Kiem, has made an important move into another dimension of teaching and learning that is increasingly valued and indeed emphasized in business schools worldwide.

The launch of the Certified Management & Business Educator (CMBE) qualification reflects a deep commitment on the part of CABS to enhancing, improving, and advancing the quality of teaching and learning in business schools. Continuous professional development focused on the practice of teaching allows business school professors to refine and develop pedagogical acumen and to commit long-term to continuing professional development.

The CMBE designation signals a devotion to high-quality teaching as well as a recognition that even the very best in the classroom must continue to refine their teaching skills as a component of career development.

An interesting element of the CBME designation is that colleagues who commit to the CMBE program can pursue the professional development through their institution, through CABS, or through Advance HE. Advance HE was formed in 2018 through the merger of three higher education agencies in the U.K.: the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Equality Challenge Unit, and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. HEA, founded over 15 years ago, was a leader in supporting teaching and learning, through the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (now offered through Advance HE).

Learning programs like these reflect the philosophy in the U.K. called the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). The TEF is a national exercise, introduced by the government in England. It assesses excellence in teaching at universities and colleges, and evaluates how well those institutions ensure quality outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study. Based on outcomes measures, universities in the U.K. can earn TEF gold, silver, bronze, or provisional ratings.

Many institutions in the U.K. have expectations that all faculty members will commit to the HEA postgraduate certificate, but the launch of the CMBE reinforces that this is not to be a one-time effort; the credentials require ongoing professional development to maintain currency, quality, and innovation in the practice of teaching.

The CABS initiative leading to the CMBE designation will likely have much broader implications beyond the U.K. In fact, many AACSB member schools in the U.K. have collaborative provision partnerships and alliances worldwide, and with the national emphasis on teaching excellence, the likelihood for global growth of teaching quality support programs is high.


Tim MesconTimothy Mescon is executive vice president and chief officer of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at AACSB International. Follow him on Twitter @timmescon.