Striving for standards

By bne IntelliNews June 30, 2009

bne -

Business schools began to appear in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of the communist era, and by the early 1990s dozens of institutions were offering budding business leaders an MBA and the ticket to success, many in cooperation with western counterparts.

Yet Danica Purg, dean of the IEDC Bled School of Management, one of the first schools in the region, felt standards were very patchy at the time, even at some institutions that imported teachers. "I think some of those western professors were not always the tops; not even second-level quality," she says.

To change things, in 1993 she and a dozen other schools in the region founded the Central and East European Management Development Association (Ceeman). Since then, the association has expanded fast, organising hundreds of seminars and programmes for schools in the region and beyond.

Ceeman also looked at the accreditation systems developed in the West to assist in ensuring teaching standards in schools. It found that its members were often ineligible for qualification on technical grounds. "Accreditation systems developed in the West were not suitable for many schools here. For example, we at IEDC have only a small full-time faculty; we use many top-quality western professors who visit regularly, but they are not permanent, which is condition for western accreditation," she says.

As a result, Ceeman created the International Quality Award (IQA), a system designed to take into consideration the constraints of the region, yet indicate to potential students that the receiving school offers good quality education.

Some schools in the region hold accreditation from their parent operation, for example, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the University of Pittsburgh, which offers programmes in Prague. "Right now, we do not see a benefit in being accredited by other institutions since the [North American] AACSB has the highest standards internationally," says Thomas Mershon, MBA director for Central Europe, University of Pittsburgh.

IQA accredited schools can be found here.

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