Re-accreditation raises the standards of South Africa’s MBA

In 2004, South Africa’s Council on Higher Education (CHE) completed an extensive re-accreditation of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degrees offered in the country, a process that has undoubtedly raised the standard of local MBA programmes.

The CHE, a statutory organisation tasked with advising the Minister of Education on higher education and ensuring that all higher education programmes meet minimum quality standards, decided to re-accredit local MBA programmes because of the rapid proliferation of institutions offering the qualification.

A survey by showed that between 1998 and 2000 the number of MBA graduates in South Africa increased by 80%. As a result of this, a plethora of new institutions entered the market in South Africa to cash in on the strong local demand for an MBA.

Many of these organisations, however, had question marks over the standard of their programmes, which made it necessary for the CHE, through its permanent sub-committee the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), to conduct a formal evaluation of the quality of all the MBAs offered in South Africa.

The release of the final findings of the CHE’s MBA re-accreditation revealed that many of the institutions offering MBAs in South Africa were indeed not up to standard, and had been offering students inferior MBA qualifications. Of the 28 institutions that were evaluated, 10 organisations did not meet minimum requirements and had to shut down their programmes.

Saki Macozoma, former Chairperson of the CHE, says that the process will ensure that when students enrol for a MBA programme they will receive training of the highest standard and quality.

“Access to higher education is a waste of resources if the training is not of a high standard. The cruellest thing you can do to a person is to provide them with training of inferior quality. The MBA re-accreditation process will prevent this from happening,” Macozoma says.

The MBA re-accreditation is certain to raise the standard of MBA programmes offered in South Africa and will benefit prospective students by providing a benchmark that will ensure that they are investing in an MBA course at a recognised business school that will provide relevant training of the highest quality.

It will also improve the value of the MBA brand, which was diluted by the large volumes of graduates produced by second-rate institutions. Employers will now know that when they hire an MBA graduate, they are acquiring an employee who has received thorough instruction at a credible organisation.

Business schools have welcomed the re-accreditation for these very reasons.

Susan Adendorff, former MBA Programme Director at the University of Pretoria’s Graduate School of Management, says the re-accreditation provided “a means of distinguishing between world-class MBAs available in the South African market and other so-called MBA programmes which are nothing more than an attempt to capitalise on the standing of recognised and valued MBA programmes”.

Eon Smit, former Director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, says the process will see fewer schools offering MBAs which means the “average quality level of the South African MBA will be improved considerably”, while Gavin Staude, former Director of the Rhodes Investec Business School, says the re-accreditation will protect students who “were at risk when they enrolled for programmes about which they did not have any real evidence of quality”.

The CHE’s MBA re-accreditation will also improve the standing of South African MBAs internationally and make an MBA in South Africa a more attractive option for foreign students because of the exhaustive measures undertaken to ensure that MBA programmes were up to scratch.

The re-accreditation was demanding and in line with international best practice. The process was the first of its kind in the world to be undertaken by a statutory body and attracted widespread international media attention for its innovation and thoroughness.

The CHE enlisted the help of MBA experts from the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong and the UK to structure the evaluation and also invited all the local business schools to participate in the process. All procedures and evaluation criteria were measured against the standards set by international accreditation organisations such as the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and the International Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Each business school was evaluated according to a set of thirteen criteria drawn up by these stakeholders, and each criterion was supported by a set of detailed minimum standards. All business schools had to complete detailed questionnaires and have site visits conducted on their campuses. They also had the opportunity to make submissions to the CHE and respond to any queries throughout the re-accreditation.

“The rigour of the process can be attested to by all involved. It was extremely thorough and matched the standards set by leading international accreditation organisations,” says Hugh Africa, Chairperson of the HEQC.

The next phase of the probe into local MBAs is even more exciting and significant than the re-accreditation process.

In the next phase, the aim is to go beyond the quality assessment of MBAs and see what can be done to facilitate quality improvement in the standard and international competitiveness of South African MBAs even further.

For the moment though, at least prospective students will no longer have to be concerned about the standard of their MBAs. Students can register with one of the institutions below safe in the knowledge that they will be studying towards an MBA that is recognised and meets the highest quality standards.


Gordon Institute of Business Science


Henley Management College of South Africa


Management College of South Africa

MBA General
MBA Tourism Management & Development

Milpark Business School


Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University of Technology, MBA Unit 


North-West University Mafikeng Campus


Potchefstroom Business School
North-West University:
Potchefstroom Campus
Vaal Triangle Campus

MBA (Contact)

Regenesys Management (Pty) Ltd 


Regent Business School 


Rhodes Investec Business School (RIBS)


Tshwane University of Technology Business School


Turfloop Graduate School of Leadership (TGSL) 


University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB)


University of the Free State School of Management

MBA General

University of KwaZulu Natal (Westville Campus) Graduate School of Business


UNISA Graduate School of Leadership (SBL)


University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB)


Wits Business School


Table Source: CHE,
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