Cobus Oosthuizen: Accreditation an opportunity for ‘deep reflection’. Picture: Russell Roberts
Cobus Oosthuizen: Accreditation an opportunity for ‘deep reflection’. Picture: Russell Roberts

Milpark Business School has won international accreditation for its MBA programme from the UK-based Association of MBAs (Amba).

It is the first independent business school in SA to do so. Eight SA university-based schools are already accredited by Amba.

Milpark applied in 2016, culminating in a formal assessment last year. The school learnt in December that it had succeeded. The accreditation is valid for an initial three years.

Owned by education group Stadio Holdings, Milpark offers distance and contact MBAs. It is also accredited in SA by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).

Milpark dean Cobus Oosthuizen says international accreditation is a big drawcard for SA students and employers in a local market where nearly 20 schools offer MBAs and a number of overseas schools are looking for students.

Nearly half the SA schools have Amba’s stamp of approval. Besides Pretoria University’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, Milpark joins the university schools of Wits, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, North West, Rhodes and Nelson Mandela. Henley Business School Africa has Amba accreditation through its UK parent.

Amba is one of three major international accreditation agencies but the only one dedicated to MBAs. The European Quality Improvement System (Equis), managed by the European Foundation for Management Development, and the US-based Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, both measure schools’ overall activities.

Oosthuizen says the Amba process gave Milpark the opportunity for "deep reflection" on the content and teaching of its MBA.

"Having someone look in from the outside forces you to look at things in a different way," he says.

"You realise that some of the things you consider your strengths are no more than adequate by international standards. It’s not an easy process — but it’s not meant to be."

Oosthuizen says Milpark will use its new status to pursue opportunities for international collaboration with other Amba schools. This might take the form of research or student and lecturer exchange programmes.

It will also work on parts of its MBA programmes that Amba identified as being potentially in need of improvement.

Oosthuizen says Amba accreditation has been on Milpark’s to-do list for some years. However, it delayed applying until the CHE completed a local re-accreditation process that also changed the content and academic requirements of SA MBAs.

A number of other SA business schools have said they intend to pursue Amba accreditation.