2013 EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF Documents Now Available

2013 EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF Documents Now Available

Every year the Quality Services Department revises its documentation to improve the quality of its accreditation services.

The EFMD Quality Services Office is happy to present the 2013 version of the EQUIS, EPAS and EDAF Documents. Every year the Quality Services Department revises its documentation to improve the quality of its accreditation services. The revision includes changes to: equisepasedafdiagram-1

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EQUIS Standards and Criteria
-    EQUIS Process Manual
-    EQUIS Process Manual Annexes

-    EPAS Standards and Criteria
-    EPAS Process Manual

-    EPAS Process Manual Annexes

-    EDAF Evaluation Criteria
-    EDAF Process Manual
-    EDAF Process Manual Annexes

Some of the key changes are:
  • A new transversal chapter on Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (EQUIS)
  • More detailed requirements in the areas of financial performance and risk management (EQUIS)
  • Many minor improvements in the accreditation process (EQUIS and EPAS)
  • Consolidation of the EDAF document set (including four new annexes to the EDAF Process Manual)
A new re-accreditation procedure for EQUIS Schools that have received 5 year accreditation three consecutive times is being pilot tested in 2013 by twelve pioneer schools. The detailed description of the process is available as Annex eighteen of the 2013 EQUIS Process Manual Annexes.

For more detailed information, please consult the relevant lists of changes and the new versions of the documents on our website. Schools are advised to use the most recent version of the documents when preparing for the next step in the accreditation process.

EFMD revises EQUIS Standards for Financial Performance, Financial Management and Risk Management

equis2013The newest edition of the EQUIS documents includes significantly revised and expanded standards for Financial Performance reporting, Financial Management and Risk Management (EQUIS Standards & Criteria, sections b – d of chapter 7). With these changes, EFMD targets a further strengthening of the EQUIS system by creating more transparency of an applicant school’s financial health, how it manages its financial affairs and how it deals with financial as well as non-financial risks. Peer Review Teams will now be in a position to conduct analyses of greater depth, which will significantly enhance their ability to evaluate a school’s financial and academic viability. As a consequence, it will add to the fruitfulness of the discussions with senior management teams and will ultimately act as a catalyst for the further professionalization of the finance and risk function in business schools. The revised standards were presented to the EFMD membership during the 2013 Deans and Directors Meeting in Istanbul for immediate implementation.

The most eye-catching change is the switch from previously two evaluation items (‘tick boxes’) in the Quality Profile Sheet (Financial Resources, Financial Management) riskmanagement1 to now three (Financial Performance, Financial Management, Risk Management). A more in-depth look at the Financial Performance section reveals that schools are from now on requested to supply detailed accounting information for the past five years as well as corresponding budget projections for the next three years. The scope of reporting is implicitly aligned with the availability of financial information, which is above all tied to the school’s legal status. The working rule for schools in process should be that whatever is generated as part of regular financial reporting must now also be added to the Self-Assessment Report or the Base Room (see Annexes 4 – 5 of the EQUIS Process Manual Annexes for further details).

The Financial Performance section has in addition been extended to cover potential threats not explicitly captured in the school’s accounts. These could for instance include issues related to the parent institution’s financial health or any contractual commitments with a potential impact on financial outcomes in the years to come (e.g. loan covenants). Schools should view these additional provisions as a reminder that they need to provide Peer Review Teams with a comprehensive picture of their financial situation and to pro-actively highlight problem areas, which may have a tangible impact on the accreditation process.

The section on Financial Management covers the same headline items as before (financial autonomy, financial budgeting process, internal control and reporting systems), but now with somewhat greater depth. Schools are for instance asked to describe the system of KPIs used in performance management, which now needs to be supplemented with corresponding data for the past five years and projections for the next three years. Greater emphasis is also placed on the consistency of the financial budgeting process, in particular the alignment with the strategic plan as well as the consistency of revenue and cost projections.

The section covering Risk Management represents the most important innovation introduced to the Resources chapter this year. Risk is defined very broadly and covers financial as well as non-financial risks, the latter for instance being related to academic quality and reputation. Schools are requested to explain how they organize the risk management function (e.g. assignment of managerial responsibility as well as risk ownership, risk reporting) and how it is embedded into its governance system. They need to further describe the management processes applied to the identification, assessment and mitigation of risks. Finally, Peer Review Teams are to be provided with up-to-date information on the risks currently facing the school as well as the mitigation policies employed to manage these risks. In this context, any pertinent threat with the potential of significantly infringing on quality and viability needs to be flagged up during the review.

Overall, the changes applied to the Resources chapter provide schools with greater clarity on what is expected from them. Peer Review Teams will therefore spend less time on the gathering of information and will devote more of their attention to analysis as well as the provision of advice. Will the 2013 document revisions eventually raise the EQUIS bar in these areas? Probably. But this will go hand-in-hand with the further professionalization of the finance and risk management function in business schools, all in the context of EQUIS’ central mission to encourage continuous quality improvement.

If you have any questions or require further details on EQUIS please contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EFMD Introduces New EQUIS Re-Accreditation Procedure for ‘3 times 5 years’ Schools

equis2013As part of its annual EQUIS document revisions, EFMD has introduced a new re-accreditation procedure (called ‘Special Re-Accreditation’). It is only available for Schools, which have previously been accredited for three consecutive periods of 5 years (see EQUIS Process Manual Annexes, Annex 18). Special Re-Accreditation (SR) represents an optional path towards re-accreditation as long as the last re-accreditation cycle involved a regular review. This alternative path will be pilot-tested during 2013 and 2014. After this period, it will be either improved and maintained or simply discontinued, based on the learning from and the opinions of those who opt for it.

The introduction of SR is a consequence of three circumstances:

  • EFMD’s desire to ensure that the value-added of EQUIS to its members and the effort sustained by them is reasonably balanced, not only in the initial cycle but also in all subsequent re-accreditation cycles.

  • The view of a group of Deans of leading schools in Europe, most of them EQUIS “Pioneer” schools, that schools that have proven three consecutive times to have the highest quality according to EQUIS, should be entitled to a less “exhaustive” and time-consuming process.

  • EFMD’s view that EQUIS should not be any less demanding on the quality of or grant unjustified privileges to any school, while remaining able to add value to schools in different circumstances.
However, as we presented the “draft” of this new process in different forums, we often heard that a strong contribution by EQUIS through its regular re-accreditation process was to testify that a school continued to show a very high level of quality after five years. Advocates of this view argued that, in five years, the quality of a very good school could deteriorate because, for example, key environmental features could change significantly, a new Dean could have been appointed, or the school could have suffered some unforeseen internal problems. We, in EQUIS, after 14 years’ experience, have witnessed that while most very good schools improve continuously, a few deteriorate significantly.

The role of EQUIS is to assess quality and as a consequence enhance reputation, rather than to simply assume that reputation is always based on high quality. As a consequence, regular re-accreditation is still considered by some as desirable under all circumstances and thus SR is presented as an option. In fact, we believe that schools that, for example, have undergone a major restructuring or have recently appointed a new Dean, will benefit more from the regular re-accreditation process. While SR incorporates differences in focus and process, it should be noted that it is not a new category or “rating”.

In sum, SR pursues the following objectives:
  • Continue to evaluate the essential quality aspects.
  • Analyse progress in development objectives and degree of improvement in quality.
  • Make the process more focused and less onerous but continue to add value.
  • Continue to provide challenges for continued quality improvement.
  • Contribute learning to the community by analysing good practices of those EQUIS-accredited schools that show a longer track record of satisfaction of standards.
This is achieved by means of:
  • A process that is shorter and less demanding in terms of the quantity of information required and the length of the visit to the School.
  • A process that requires more structured and concise information about the essential aspects of the School, its progress and its future development.
  • A Peer Review Team involving only two experienced Peer Reviewers.
  • A process that is less costly for schools from many perspectives.
If you have any questions on the SR or require further details on EQUIS please contact us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.