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Management Education and Development in the United Kingdom - Page 3

M.B.A. Qualification and Influencing Organisations

The following section details the MBA qualification and also a number of the major influencing bodies for management education and development in the U.K. The major influences were identified as, The Association of Business Schools, The Association of MBA’s, The Quality Assurance Agency and The British Academy of Management. In order to raise awareness of how these institutions influence the content and operationality of management education and development in the UK, an outline of their structures is denoted.

The flagship premier qualification in management education worldwide is generally recognised as being the Masters in Business Administration. (MBA). This fact relates to the phenomenal growth in business schools over the past fifty years. From their American origins, they have become a worldwide activity and developed into a massive industry, The global market in executive education is estimated to be worth over 7billion . Each year British business schools attract more than 37,000 foreign students, generating revenues in excess of £500million, making them among the top 50 UK exporters. Professor Les Murray, director of Cranfield School of Management recounted that in his view, MBA’s are a branded, big ticket, fast moving consumer good and one of the most successful marketing stories of post war years.

In the United Kingdom, the Association of Business Schools prescribed specific teachings relating to an MBA higher degree. These are as follows -

It is noteworthy that little reference to matters outside any pure business orientation appeared in this teaching template.For example, there was a lack of any explicit reference to-
‘learning how to reflect and think’
‘liasing with employing organisation pre, during and post educational process’
‘connectiveness of student learning and the requirements of his/her employing organisation or indeed a continuously changing business environment’
‘measurement of the effectiveness of the learning/teaching process’
‘comparative analysis of benchmarked effectiveness’.
These omissions will be discussed throughout the thesis.

The Association of Business Schools

The ABS was formed as a limited company in 1992, via the merger of the Council of University Management Schools and the Association for Management and Business Education. The prime objective of the association is to promote the study of business and management. Current membership includes representatives from university business schools, higher education institutions and independent management centres. The executive committee consists of twelve elected members. One third of the executive is obliged to retire each year and is eligible for re-election. Four Policy Development Groups focus on the following areas:

Partnerships are active with the University of Bristol and the University of Greenwich.
The association engages in representations and discussions with the principal UK funding bodies for higher education. It also meets the representative body of the universities.
Linkages are cultivated with the Chartered Institute of Management, Management Charter Initiative, Confederation of British Industry and the UK government, in the form of the Department for Education and Employment (now named the Department for Education and Skills). Contacts and liaison activities are evidenced with the European Foundation for Management Development relating to MBA programmes and accreditation standards. International dimension is by way of connection to the American Collegiate Schools of Business in the United States.

Association of Masters of Business Administration

The second major player of influence in the field of management education in the UK is the Association of Master in Business Administration. The Association of MBA’s was founded in 1967 and has, since its inception been instrumental in raising public, business and academic awareness of the MBA as the premier management qualification in the UK. The maintenance of standards by a regular process of business school accreditation has always been a prominent objective.
The Association of MBA’s strives to be a major force for change and improvement in management standards. In addition to acting as a professional body for its members; the Association offers impartial advice and information to the general public and prospective students. …..The Association of MBA’s has, at present, 73 corporate members.

The Association of MBA’s is run on a day to day basis by an administrative team, headed by the Director General, from its office in Central London.
In the UK out of a total of approximately 112 institutions offering MBA programmes, only 31 are accredited by the Association. The application of a ranking table for those institutions offering MBA programmes, has not received a widespread level of acceptability. In the USA, the situation is somewhat different, insofar as the top ten or twenty business schools are widely published in reputable circulations.ie Business Week, Fortune or US News &World Report.
If 112 institutions are offering MBA programmes and of that number, only 31 are accredited, the question then must be posed, what level of adherence to high quality standards do the remaining 81 institutions achieve? During a consultative period, the ABS and AMBA gave a response to the QAA concerning quality aspects of management education programmes. They acknowledged that given the widespread use of modularity and the popularity of business and management studies options to students, there is also the very important question as to how standards should be developed.

The British Academy of Management

The British Academy of Management was founded in 1986 and the following objectives are written into its constitution. The Academy was established to advance the education of the public in all types of organisation and management studies.
In particular.

The Constitution of the BAM

The constitution of the British Academy of Management is as follows

The policy of the BAM is established by its Council which consists of 30 representatives elected from the membership. Ten members retire annually and elections are held for their replacements. From the council the officers of the Academy are selected. At present there are four officers – namely a Chairman, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. In addition, the council elects a President of the Academy. All of these officers are elected or re-elected on an annual basis. Also, the Council elects from its membership, a Management Committee which is responsible for the day to day management of the Academy, consisting of the four officers and eight elected members. The Academy is a registered charity. There are a number of sub committees of the Management Committee to ensure that the Academy is able to progress its various activities. Currently the following sub-committees are:

The Quality Assurance Agency

There is a wide-spread recognition that large sums of public money cannot be allocated to higher education, or indeed any other public service, without some reasonable evidence that the money will be well spent, and in particular that it will help to produce the highly educated and trained workforce that a modern industrial democracy requires. Universities and colleges have an obligation to protect the standing and good name of higher education. When the higher education system was small and largely uniform, and made a relative claim on public funds, reliance upon implicit, shared assumptions and informal networks and procedures may have been possible and sufficient. But with the rapid expansion of the numbers of students and institutions, the associated broadening of the purposes of higher education, and the considerable increase in the amount of public money required, more methodical approaches have had to be employed to provide the same guarantees. Institutions’ own internal mechanisms are important elements in providing these guarantees, but external scrutiny is also needed to confirm that institutions’ responsibilities are being properly discharged. The process of external scrutiny also makes an important contribution to the improvement of quality.

Academic quality audit.

Academic quality audit is undertaken by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, a body formally owned by all the higher education institutions in the UK, but which has a more widely representative membership on its Board of Directors, including a substantial group of independent members. Previously, the Higher Education Quality Council undertook academic quality audit. The process, which was used, between 1991 and 1997 examined the way in which each university or college managed the quality of its educational provision, not only teaching and learning, but also research and degree students and programmes and the links between teaching, research and scholarly activity.

Audit therefore covered such topics as:

All UK universities and colleges have been audited since 1991. A fresh round of audits began in 1997. This new round, known as ‘continuation audit’ has changed its focus and is now looking at the more general question of how individual institutions discharge their obligations and responsibilities for the academic standards and quality of their programmes and awards, and at the evidence they themselves are relying on for this purpose. The new audit report expresses a view on the degree of confidence of the audit team that the institution is properly safeguarding its quality and standards. This audit procedure is an interim stage towards the development and implementation of the proposals for quality assurance contained in the 1997 Dearing Report (1997).
The QAA audits are carried out by experienced senior academic staff from outside the institution, There are also audits of institutions’ collaborate provision: programmes delivered in partnership with institutions in other sectors of education or overseas.
The audit reports are published and contain an overall view, including the strengths and weaknesses, of the effectiveness of the management of quality at the institution, together with recommendations for improvement.

Quality Assessment.

Teacher quality assessment looks at the quality of teaching and learning in specific subjects. Quality assessment covers:

Assessments are carried out by experienced academic staff. External Examiners’ reports are scrutinised as is teaching and learning. Each assessment visit leads to a published report. Unlike the audit report, Quality Assessment grades the extent of the institution's achievement in each of the six aspects. Well over half of all the programmes being offered in the UK universities and colleges have now been assessed in this way, and almost all of this provision has been found to be of a satisfactory quality or better. Until September 1997 quality assessments were undertaken by the three higher education funding councils, for England Scotland and Wales. From 1998-1999 the QAA was trialling a new subject-bases evaluation process, based on proposals in the Dearing Report for securing academic standards and quality and strengthening the external examiner function.
The UK Higher Education section is well used to and beset by a plethora of quality assurance processes and associated accreditation bodies. Many of these are based primarily within a UK context with little if any reference to an international dimension. The prime movers governing the processes and accreditation include the Quality Assurance Agency, Teaching Quality Assessment or Academic Review and the Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise. The question has been posed if the new QAA Academic Review Process (QAA 2000) is effectively measuring the quality of programmes or merely compounding the notion of professionalising an never-ending paper trail of procedures and processes.

In 2000, subject benchmarks in Business and Management were established collaboratively with the ABS and QAA. The objective was to give guidance and not to set a rigid inflexible national curriculum. An attempt was made to develop a middle course and thereby encouraging the ethos of continuous improvement.
However an unplanned change in personnel transpired during August 2001. John Randell, the CEO, choose to leave the organisation because of a conflict concerning quality standards. He believed the government was devaluing the quality assessment process by reducing inspection frequencies and therefore not being an effective monitor of educational programmes.

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