Newly Accredited: La Trobe University on Earning AACSB Accreditation
For Dean Jane Hamilton, the strengthened mission and improved processes were the most rewarding parts of her school's initial accreditation experience.
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.
This interview features perspectives from Jane Hamilton, dean of La Trobe Business School at La Trobe University, who shares how going through the accreditation process helped the school strengthen its mission statement, which in turn helped better convey its value to stakeholders. With accessible, top-quality education the bottom-line goal of this journey, the school now has the mark to show for it.
Why was it important for your school to undergo the rigorous process of earning AACSB accreditation?
La Trobe Business School decided to pursue AACSB accreditation because the leaders of the school and La Trobe University could see benefits from both the journey itself and a successful outcome. We knew that we had quality programs and staff, but we wanted to make sure that we had rigorous processes to both systematically assess our outcomes and ensure continuous improvement. We are committed to getting the very best work outcome and recognition for our graduates and the AACSB methodology is widely recognized as a mark of quality and trusted by employers around the world. Ultimately, this is all about making sure that our students get the very best education we can provide.
What did you learn about your school through your accreditation journey?
The AACSB standards guided us through the process by providing a structure for aligning our strategic and operational decisions with our mission. We found that deeply engaging with our mission in this way helped us learn about ourselves, including what makes us unique, such as our campuses in regional cities. It also enabled conversations about our deeply held values and commitment to making quality education accessible to students with a wide range of backgrounds.
What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of the accreditation process?
One of the challenges we faced was aligning our institutional policies and legal framework with the AACSB perspective. In some cases, we found that our normal practices easily exceeded AACSB’s standards, while with some others we had to devise better systems that would bridge the gap and demonstrate that we met the standards. We also had to educate ourselves and our faculty about both the terminology and philosophy behind the AACSB framework.
Strengthening our mission focus was one of the most rewarding parts of our journey. This also helped us demonstrate to our stakeholders that our mission to enhance business learning through innovative, responsible, and engaged education and research is more than a set of words—that we both lived it and achieved it.
What impact do you hope to see from having achieved AACSB accreditation?
We are already seeing an impact from our successful accreditation. One example is the way it facilitates conversations with other universities that are also accredited, because they know what it signals about our quality. We are keen to continue to develop partnerships that benefit our students and faculty, as well as maintain and improve the quality of our programs and general operations.
What advice would you give to another school approaching the accreditation process?
My advice to another organization is that success comes only if you make a deep and genuine commitment to quality and embrace the support provided by AACSB and your mentor to help you make improvements.
Jane Hamilton is dean and head of La Trobe Business School at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia.