The promising cooperation between FIBAA en Hobéon

Since the last year, Hobéon and FIBAA have been in contact, to establish common grounds for cooperation. Our colleagues Roel van Krieken and Inge van der Hoorn interviewed Diane Freiberger, the Managing Director of FIBAA, about this cooperation and the added value for institution in higher education. 


About FIBAA 

FIBAA is a non-profit organization and an experienced quality agency that works on both the national (Germany) and international level to ensure quality in higher education. The FIBAA acronym stands for Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation and was established in 1994, two years after the creation of Hobéon. The founders were amongst the business and industry chamber associations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. On their product portfolio stands program accreditation, institutional accreditation, and certifications for advanced education. FIBAA also has a consultation department, which is independent of its accreditation branch. Hobéon and FIBAA share the same perspective and both value transparency and trustworthiness as quality assurance agencies. The certifications of FIBAA are recognized in various countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and also Kazakhstan, Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey, Vietnam and Indonesia. Both FIBAA and Hobéon enforce the European Standards and Guidelines (ESG).

New quality seal: Excellence in Digital Education

In 2020, FIBAA started to expand its portfolio from the services named above, and, in 2021 made its first theoretical draft for a new procedure. The development of the Quality Seal ‘Excellence in Digital Education’ makes FIBAA a forerunner, as this innovation sees its first light in the domain of accreditation of higher education. After experts and peer-review feedback processes have given their approval, the pilot procedures took place in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the beginning of the year 2022, FIBAA received the official Swiss and European official trademark for Quality Seal ‘Excellence in Digital Education’. Since then, and boosted by the pandemic, several universities applied for this new seal. This seal is a standalone seal and can also be combined with an institutional procedure, as well as a program accreditation. 

The changing society sparked companies to find innovative solutions to bridge the existing gaps for students to receive education that allows them to be prepared for the new current working environment. Indeed, since the corona crisis, more and more individuals have started to work from home, and this is also applicable to students receiving their education online. FIBAA took this opportunity and contributes to setting new frameworks that allow these changes to be new focus points during the accreditation process. Hobéon supports this valuable addition to the norms of accreditation procedure. 

In the same trend, Hobéon developed a special seal for ‘Sustainable Higher Education’ (SHE framework). This framework has been carried out in the context of the Netherlands so far. It was first created in 2016, and was called the ‘Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education’ (AISHE framework), which was updated to the SHE framework in 2021. Indeed, the United Nations has recently reframed and redefined the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) into 17 newly elaborated principles. Mrs. Freiberger has expressed her appreciation for this framework with regards to our approach. Indeed, the analysis of how sustainable a study program is, should not merely investigate the facilities, but must also focus on incorporating that line of thinking into the contents of the curriculum and in the vision, mission and strategy of a study program. In addition, it
reviews the attitude of responsibility and integrity, for instance with relation to the existing partnerships the institute has, to enforce the SDG's. Indeed, fostering change as a mindset is a starting point for taking steps in finding solutions to our global complex problems.

The benefits of our cooperation

There is a mutual benefit for joining forces. FIBAA has interests in Hobéons’ special sustainable development certification and Hobéon wishes to expand this service internationally. We believe that it is important to normalise educational institutions taking active steps to integrate the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDG’s) into education. Both FIBAA and Hobéon believe to be complimentary, and as we share similar values and thus we believe our cooperation will be beneficial for the further development of quality in higher education. Our aim is to provide Dutch, German and other educational institutes on the international market with a combined audit for the NVAO accreditation and FIBAA Quality Seal. This means that Dutch universities will benefit from our cooperation with FIBAA as there is an opportunity for study programs to be accredited nationally and internationally through one accreditation procedure alone. FIBAA will benefit from the service that Hobéon provides with regards to its special sustainable quality seal, as it is increasing in demand on the market today.

Our respective accreditation procedures have a lot of overlap and by combining our different yet objective perspectives, the study program that wishes to be accredited by FIBAA and Hobéon/NVAO finds enriching and valuable recommendations for its future development. Furthermore, a study program that chooses to profile itself with the special seal of sustainable education stands out as being progressive and taking active part in the international scene for being responsible civil institutions. This benefits various actors, and contributes to educating the future generation of change makers. Hobéon and FIBAA have delivered the first accreditation pilot which synergized the two FIBAA and NVAO respective frameworks at Business School Nederland.

To sum up, both FIBAA and Hobéon are enthusiastic about this cooperation, as this brings forth new opportunities for being advocates for quality in Higher Education. We both respectively believe in the ability to connect our network and services to stand strong together as innovative and progressive bodies. Indeed, our shared goal of enforcing quality assurance in the sector of Higher education in Europe is our premise.

Our views on quality management, and our ambition for supporting institutions with their sustainable development grounds us for a great partnership. Hobéon is proud about the foreseeable long term prospect of working together with FIBAA, as this partnership based on shared credentials will contribute to increasing quality assurance of Higher Education on the European scale and progressing it towards our common goals.

Gecombineerde audits

De eerste gecombineerde audit is inmiddels een feit. Hobéon en FIBAA voerden bij de opleidingen Executive MBA en Distance Learning MBA van Business School Nederland een gecombineerde audit uit, waarbij zowel de NVAO-standaarden als ook de criteria behorende bij het FIBAA Quality Seal zijn beoordeeld. Een panel van deskundigen heeft naar beide opleidingen gekeken. En met positief resultaat! Het panel concludeerde dat de kwaliteit van de Executive MBA en de Distance Learning MBA voldoet. De NVAO heeft op advies van het panel de accreditatie van beide opleidingen inmiddels verlengd. Een commissie van FIBAA besliste dat ook het FIBAA kwaliteitskeurmerk wordt toegewezen. 

Quality Seal voor MBA-programma's

FIBAA is een internationaal georiënteerd bueau voor kwaliteitsborging en kwaliteitsontwikkeling, dat accreditatieprocedures bij instellingen voor hoger onderwijs uitvoert op basis van internationaal erkende kwaliteitscriteria. Zoals de volledige naam van FIBAA - Foundation for International Business Administration - duidelijk maakt, is zij in het bijzonder gericht op managementopleidingen. FIBAA is in 1994 op initiatief van de toonaangevende organisatie in de Zwitserse, Oostenrijkse en Duitse industrie opgericht, om overzicht te scheppen in het verwarrende scala aan MBA-programma's in die landen. Inmiddels is het FIBAA Quality Seal een internationaal erkend keurmerk, dat vooral voor bedrijfskundige opleidingen en grote meerwaarde kent.