Employers and managers recognize the difference education makes and the degree of difference between institutions. Stu Woo highlighted a 2007 decision by Intel to limit tuition assistance to programs accredited by AACSB and ABET (Woo, 2007). Intel's issue isn't about education - it is about the accrediting bodies, juxtaposing quality and quantity.
Accreditation policies affect stakeholders. Students, institutions, and business must understand the value they get for their time and money. Intel made a qualified decision. Educational institutions market their programs to individuals seeking career advancement leaving some graduates mystified their degrees are not as valued by employers as the individual who earned the degree or the institution that granted the degree.
This article was part of an on-line discussion of University of Phoenix (UOP) students and graduates discussing Intel’s decision to limit tuition assistance. Intel’s decision did not include tuition reimbursement for UOP students. Many UOP students and graduates felt slighted and blamed Intel’s decision was based on cost. It is hard to justify Intel's decision based on cost. If costs were the issue then Intel could limit tuition assistance they provide to any program. Accreditation quality seems to be the central argument. Board standards are the critical point in Woo’s article. Intel made a quality decision to pay for education accredited by the AACSB or ABET.
"University of Phoenix (UOP) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association.” UOP’s business and accounting programs are accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (acbsp.org)." (University of Phoenix, 2010)
The Association of Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) was founded in 1988 when only one accreditation resource was available, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). "In 1988 only 260 of those 2,400 institutions had their business schools and programs accredited, an accreditation administered by only one organization. Many of the remaining 2,140 institutions felt that an alternative organization with an accreditation philosophy more attuned to the missions of their institutions should be created to satisfy their business accreditation needs. Most of the 2,140 institutions had (and still have) as their primary, student-oriented objective excellence in teaching as opposed to a heavy emphasis on research. They wanted an accrediting organization that had this teaching emphasis reflected in its accreditation standards. Their response was the creation of ACBSP." (Association of Business Schools and Programs, 2010)
So what is different between the ACBSP and Intel's preference with AACSB? AACSB was the first accreditation body for business schools. Just by looking at their web accreditation page, the AACSB list the 579 schools that have gained AACSB accreditation. In their words, "International accreditation assures stakeholders that business schools: Manage resources to achieve a vibrant and relevant mission. Advance business and management knowledge through faculty scholarship. Provide high-caliber teaching of quality and current curricula. Cultivate meaningful interaction between students and a qualified faculty. Produce graduates who have achieved specified learning goals.“ (Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, 2010)
Schools accredited by AACSB include Harvard, Yale, most state universities and colleges. ACBSP lists community colleges and programs promoting alternative education routes. The distinct different is ACBSP's emphases "student oriented teaching" versus "research, scholarship, and peer review" by AACSB. It appears AACSB accreditation standards are tougher than ACBSP. ACBSP accredits 3.7 programs for every 1 program accredited by AACSB. Intel’s qualitative decision reflects the return they get from AACSB graduates is higher than the returns they get from ACBSP.
Students, institutions, and business must understand what they are getting in value for the time and money expended. Expectations may or may not drive results. Caveat emptor!
Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. (2010, Mar24) Retrieved March 24, 2010 from http://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/
Association of Business Schools and Programs. (2010, March 24) Retrieved Mar 24, 2010 from http://www.acbsp.org/p/st/ld/&sid=s1_025about.
University of Phoenix. (2010, March 24). Accreditation. http://www.phoenix.edu/about_us/accreditation.html
Woo, Stu. (2007, February 2). Intel Cuts 100 Colleges From Its Tuition-Reimbursement Program for Employees. Retrieved March 23, 2010 from http://www.cael.org/pdf/publication_pdf/Chronicle_of_HigherEdArticle.pdf