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Florida business schools face new accreditation standards

The business landscape has shifted shape in 10 years.

Young people have lived through the Great Recession, seen banks collapse and corporate leaders hauled away in handcuffs. They've watched the housing bubble burst, their parents endure layoffs and foreclosures. They've entered a world of burgeoning student loans and new technologies.

And now, when they go to college for a business degree, their standards of learning will change with the times.

So says the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the agency that accredits business schools around the world, and more than a dozen in Florida including the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, Florida State, the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida.

At a meeting Monday in Chicago, AACSB members voted unanimously to change accreditation standards, streamline and add new focuses on innovation, social responsibility and jobs. It marks an end to a two-year period when the agency studied changing business education.

"People go to business school to get good jobs, not to spend four years and keep looking for a job," said Moez Limayem, dean of USF's College of Business and its more than 6,000 students. "The competitive landscape has changed. We have more business schools offering more options to students, and the classic, traditional business school that does not innovate, that does not think out of the box and offer quality programs, will cease to be relevant."

Under new standards, schools will prove to a peer review group how students are getting exposed to the real working world.

There's no prescribed way to do it, AACSB leaders said. It could be through service projects. It could be through corporations donating money to schools and hiring students for jobs and internships. It could be through guest speakers, through curriculum with themes of corporate responsibility throughout.

"Ethics is a big part of it now," Limayem said.

And gone are the days of faculty research papers that disappear into academic journals. Under the new standards, business teachers will have to prove how their research is impacting bottom lines of businesses and leading to the creation of new tools.

Business schools, which are reviewed for accreditation every five years, have three years to adjust to the new standards. Less than 5 percent of the world's 13,000 business programs have earned AACSB accreditation.

"It places them among the premier business schools in the world," said Robert Reid, the AACSB's executive vice president and chief accreditation officer. "By being accredited by us, you really have shown that you are among the best business schools in the country."

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394.

Florida business schools face new accreditation standards 04/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 8:30pm]

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