A faculty activity reporting solution can play a pivotal role in helping universities capture and prove their faculty accomplishments during an accreditation process. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation is instrumental for business schools to attract the best students and faculty—but the process is lengthy, complex and resource intensive. When it came time for their initial review, Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met) leveraged Activity Insight to collect and demonstrate faculty’s activities in support of AACSB accreditation. During a recent virtual roundtable discussion with some of its peers in Western Europe, Manchester Met shared the ins and outs of their experience.
With roots extending back to 1824, Manchester Metropolitan University has two core campuses and a combined eight faculties (schools) throughout the country. With over 2,200 faculty and 36,000 students enrolled throughout its system, Manchester Met confers more than 10,000 degrees at all levels annually.
Manchester Metropolitan’s Business School is one of the largest in the United Kingdom—having joined with the institution’s Law School to facilitate an inspirational environment in which to study, learn and develop. The Business School offers an undergraduate degree, a postgraduate degree, an executive Master’s degree and professional development courses.
At the outset of an accreditation effort, institutions are often overwhelmed with the volume of data required to populate necessary supporting documents (such as AACSB’s tables 2-1: Intellectual Contributions, 15-1: Faculty Sufficiency and Qualifications Summary and 15-2: Deployment of Participating and Supporting Faculty by Qualification Status) which often require the faculty’s input. Manchester Met addressed this task using a hybrid approach in which the school’s administrative team took an initial pass at inputting everything they could, and then brought faculty on board to fill in the blanks approximately twice a year. As an added measure, the team also offered to enter intellectual contribution data on faculty’s behalf wherever possible. “People, when teaching, have a lot of course administration to get through and their time is stretched. We offered a ‘value-added service’ for faculty to forward us emails detailing their activities and we’d add it to their record,” notes Constance Chiu, Manchester Met’s International Projects Officer.
Keeping Faculty in the Loop
Faculty are an integral part of the accreditation process—their contributions and accomplishments are the driving force behind advancing a school’s overall mission. For this reason, Manchester Met chose to ensure that faculty were kept apprised of the school’s progress along the way. Whether it was via an all-faculty meeting, targeted email messaging or even ad hoc announcements cascaded from the Dean, Manchester Met kept faculty engaged every step of the way. And when it came to ensuring faculty were present at meetings that touched on major AACSB milestones, Constance and her colleagues have a secret. “We bring in cakes. Cakes always help.”
As a cornerstone of its standards, AACSB holds business schools accountable for playing a significant contributing role in the business realm—and society as a whole—as a by-product of their mission. Because this impact is self-defined by an institution, Manchester Met had to develop a mechanism for effectively measuring the long-term reach of its faculty’s intellectual contributions. “We focused on many different aspects. We captured things that talked about research publications, for example publications that have won “best paper,” “commendations” or any other sort of recognition. We also focused on number of citations, stars, journal rankings, case studies and any other high-profile work,” explains Sally Rimmer, Manchester Met’s Accreditations Manager.
But above and beyond these output-based metrics, the University also placed a considerable emphasis on the application of these outputs in the form of faculty-driven case studies highlighting their efforts in the field. “We couldn’t just depend on metrics—it didn’t really do us justice,” Chiu says. “It’s our mission to be leading and delivering innovative, ground-breaking research that’s fully applied.”
Reflections on the Peer Review Visit
When the peer review team arrived for its final visit, Manchester Met put in an all-in effort to prep for the the final determination. As a result of their peer review visit, the institution shared some of the following pointers with other universities embarking on this process:
- Don’t try to make things fit. “You should not capture information that you cannot back-up,” Rimmer notes. Manchester Met notes that it’s best to be candid with the peer review team about areas where you could improve.
- Be adaptable. Be prepared to present your AACSB tables and other supporting documents in a variety of ways to avoid last-minute surprises. Chiu shared, “always check-in with your peer review team about documentation and computations.”
- Take time to reflect. Consider appointing a notetaker to simply jot down discussion points to revisit later. After a peer review visit, ensure you block off time to debrief and assess what you did well, what you could improve and what you learned along the way.
As a result of the time invested in capturing their faculty activity data and ensuring it told the story of their university, Manchester Met achieved accreditation in February 2016. (Congratulations Manchester Met!)
With a successful on-site review behind them, Manchester Met isn’t done yet. Following their on-site visit, the University has assembled an accreditation board and accreditation strategy for faculty. Rimmer explained, “We have an action plan in place from recommendations from the peer review team—strategies and protocols—to maintain and improve what we have.”
Does your university leverage a faculty activity reporting solution to capture, aggregate and report on faculty activities for accreditation by AACSB? Tell us how!