Two Master’s programmes in business studies receive international EPAS quality accreditation

Posted on 08/11/18.

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The University of Vaasa’s international Master´s Programmes in Strategic Business Development (SBD) and International Business (MIB) have been awarded the prestigious international quality accreditation – the EFMD Programme Accreditation System, or EPAS. EPAS is an internationally recognised accreditation for programmes in business studies, which emphasizes academic rigour, practical relevance, internationalisation, and ethics and sustainability.

“It is very important to our university that we provide a high-quality, attractive education. Accreditations are official stamps of quality in which an external party evaluates the quality of education. We have succeeded very well in these evaluations”, says Annukka Jokipii, the Vice-rector of the University of Vaasa.

The Master’s Degree Programme in Strategic Business Development (SBD) was included in the evaluation for the first time and received an EPAS quality label for three years. Additionally, the EPAS accreditation of our Master’s Programme in International Business (MIB) was extended for a further five years. The University of Vaasa has also previously received EPAS label for the international Master’s Programme in Finance. The programmes are intended for Finnish and international master's level students.

“The high level of the programme does not only guarantee good teaching, but also gives future employers certainty in the fact that the expert to be recruited has all the knowledge one would expect from the degree”, reminds vice-rector Jokipii.

According to Jokipii, going through the evaluation encourages all the degree programmes of the university to aim for a high-quality and international level.

“On that premise, we are conducting quality assessments also for our other programmes in business and technology.”

Master's Programme in Strategic Business Development

The SBD programme, delivered by the School of Management, is currently the only Master’s programme in strategic business development in Finland, and the only one in the world to have received EPAS accreditation. The SBD programme takes in on average around 35 students, from around ten different countries.

“The international stamp of quality the master’s programme has achieved shows that the long-term development of teaching has been successful. A large proportion of the evaluation criteria examine the content of the programme especially from the perspective of the practicability of the provided education. They consider whether the knowledge and skills of the students match the requirements of the work sector. The SBD programme received a special mention for the good practices the programme employs to further the utilisation of theoretical knowledge in practical situations”, says professor Jukka Vesalainen, who is responsible for the degree programme.

Master's Programme in International Business

The MIB programme combines the disciplines of management and marketing, and is jointly delivered by the School of Management and the School of Marketing and Communications. MIB’s EPAS accreditation has now been renewed three times. Together with the Master’s Programme in Finance that was re-accredited in 2016, this now means that all of the University of Vaasa’s international Master’s programmes in business studies have received this accreditation.

“The ability to work in a diverse and international operating environment has become a major requirement in the work sector. Providing the learning environment needed to develop these skills was highlighted as one of the strengths of the programme in the evaluation. We have also increased the students' possibilities for a more flexible transfer towards the work sector by developing the structure of the programme and forms of teaching. It is great that the evaluators also regarded the result of this development work as one of the strengths of the programme”, says university lecturer Minnie Kontkanen who is responsible for the degree programme.

EPAS report: University of Vaasa has strong corporate connections and excellent international culture

The accreditations are granted by the non-profit organisation, the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). There are currently only 109 EPAS accredited programmes worldwide.

The accreditation process involved the submission of an extensive self-evaluation report at the beginning of 2018, which was followed by a three-day visit in March by an international panel comprising four expert peer evaluators. The panel spent these days interviewing the programmes’ key stakeholder groups, including teachers, students, alumni, company representatives, programme managers, university top management, and university support services personnel. A ‘base room’ containing samples of course syllabi and student exams and coursework was also inspected. The main programme evaluation criteria were programme design, programme delivery, programme outcomes and quality assurance.

According to the EPAS peer-review report, the University of Vaasa has developed strong corporate connections in Vaasa and has been successful in corporate fund-raising with a view to supporting the development and implementation of its strategy.

The University of Vaasa also has a strong commitment to develop further its internationalisation which is already noticeable in terms of faculty, the proportion of international degree students, the number of international programmes, student and staff mobility, and its involvement in international education and research networks. The evaluators saw that the international culture of the University is excellent and supports the international development of the programmes, and the quality of research-based teaching is highly valued.

The report also cited that “The University of Vaasa's main distinctive feature regarding its faculty is its excellent intellectual contribution to teaching, supported by flexibility in the management of their courses, and a strong collegiality among faculty regarding the monitoring and exchange of good practice."

Further information

Vice rector Annukka Jokipii, University of Vaasa, tel +358 29 449 8482
Dean Adam Smale, School of Management, University of Vaasa, tel +358 29 449 8446

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