Newly Accredited: Örebro University on Earning AACSB Accreditation
Establishing a solid assurance of learning system helped set up the school, and the university, for streamlined future quality assurance and improvements.
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.
Fredrik Karlsson, head of Örebro University School of Business, shares how the peer review team report was particularly enlightening in showing the school not only areas for improvement but also the areas where it naturally shines, such as the open and accessible culture among faculty, staff, and students.
Why was it important for your school to undergo the rigorous process of earning AACSB accreditation?
When working with internationalization at different levels, potential partners asked about our accreditations more frequently as a way of evaluating a partner. When comparing different accreditations we saw that AACSB had a long and solid experience with quality assurance. The mission-driven process and the focus on continuous improvement appealed to us. We saw that the whole school and even the whole university could benefit from the process.
What did you learn about your school through your accreditation journey?
Through the assurance of learning (AoL) process we have learned how to shift from a course perspective to a program perspective. This has helped us focus on student learning progression over time and, as a consequence, we have further developed routines for interdisciplinary interaction in program development.
The peer review team visit was a challenging but very helpful experience. The team report was of great importance for our continuous improvement efforts, as it was very constructive and gave us feedback on both strengths and weaknesses. Areas that we had taken for granted, as they were a natural part of our everyday life, were highlighted by the peer review team as valuable assets.
An example is our open and collegiate culture that faculty commented on, which encourages accessibility among all levels of faculty rather than enforcing hierarchical boundaries. Students also commented on the availability of faculty and the open, approachable culture of the school.
What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of the accreditation process?
We have received strong support from the central management and administration of Örebro University since the beginning of our accreditation journey. Our vice chancellor has expressed that the Örebro University School of Business’s work in the AACSB accreditation process provided the university with essential knowledge for developing the universitywide quality system.
Working together with our mentor throughout the process has been very rewarding. He has given us valuable input and guidance, and through his feedback we were able to see our school and our practices in a new perspective.
The AACSB seminars and conferences also have given us a platform for networking and sharing that has been, and still is, of great importance in the process. All our department heads, program directors, subject representatives, as well as the accreditation team have attended the AoL seminar on different occasions. This helped us establish a common framework and facilitated the whole process.
A challenge, but also one of the most rewarding parts, has been the AoL process. Our quality system had a course perspective, and each of the departments had different traditions. The shift to a program perspective and a common understanding of our AoL process was demanding, but to look back at the process and see where we are now is truly a great reward.
What impact do you hope to see from having achieved AACSB accreditation?
AACSB accreditation is extremely important in strengthening our brand and will help us in developing new cooperations with business schools of international high quality. We believe our opportunities in international recruitment will improve as well.
We are now working on implementing AACSB’s process as management system at Örebro University School of Business. As an example, the AoL system that we have developed will serve as a tool for program directors in the ongoing evaluations and future development of programs.
What advice would you give to another school approaching the accreditation process?
It was very good to start early with the assurance of learning process. AoL is a rather time-consuming process in the beginning, so it is important to allow yourself some time and develop a common mindset of how you can implement quality assurance of your programs in the systematic way AACSB facilitates. Once you overcome the initial obstacles, you get a clearer view of the development process and can continue on a more advanced level and work with continuous improvements.
Take advantage of attending AACSB seminars and conferences to learn from peers and build your networks. When participating in the conferences, we also had meetings with our mentor and AACSB liaison, and it was great to meet in person on a regular basis.
Fredrik Karlsson, professor in informatics, is head of the Örebro University School of Business in Sweden.