1. Comprehensive Review
The Desk Review and the Peer Review Visit demonstrated that the School is proactive in carrying out its action plans to improve the KAIZEN issues. The School has taken a systematic and scientific way in implementing its quality improvement action plans where research and surveys were conducted to collect information from key stakeholders, and best practices were gathered from other universities for benchmarking purposes. The data collected were analyzed critically to identify issues for improvement and to formulate action plans for KAIZEN management. Most of the action plans were executed as planned. In particular:
- The administrative structure and the governance of the School have been strengthened with an improved internal quality system and a more defined job scope for various departments in the MBA Education Center.
- The School has worked actively to prepare for international accreditation. The international accreditation effort has also helped to improve the internal quality assurance system of the MBA Education Center.
- The School’s internationalization efforts are commended. The School has participated actively in various international activities, particularly to engage foreign universities for staff and student exchange and interactions, to involve in international scholarly activities such as conferences and forums, and to initiate joint programs such as 1 + 1 + 1 MBA degree program with partner universities. In addition, efforts to promote internationalization at home were undertaken where global lectures were conducted online by international speakers to provide a global vision to MBA students.
- The School has taken the efforts to identify the needs of MBA training, and continuously reviewed and improved the curriculum to catch up with the rapid development of the Chinese economy. New and advanced courses were introduced to meet the current needs of social economy and industrial development. In addition to meeting the needs of the local economy, new programs were also developed to meet the global business management skills in the Big Data and 5G era.
- The School has taken the effort to work closely with the industry to make the MBA program more relevant and aligned with industry needs.
- Faculty members were encouraged to carry out practical teaching and various activities to provide industry exposure, e.g. “second classroom” was introduced to enrich students’ learning experiences.
- To address the issue of a lack of faculty members with international or industry experience, the School has recruited a number of young faculty, especially those with international or industry exposure.
- The School has taken appropriate efforts in improving its educational infrastructure, particularly in maintaining and updating the faculty offices and the learning environment for students.
- The School has taken appropriate actions to respond to the challenges brought by COVID-19 to minimize the adverse impacts.
- For the newly revised NEU MBA training program, the students commented that generally they are well adapted to it, and the new curriculum is more reasonable. There was a smooth transition to the revised program structure.
However, the PRT has identified some limitations in the action plans and would like to highlight the following aspects for further improvement by the School.
- The School is advised to make its plans more specific and to distinguish between issues and initiatives. Identifying the issues appears to be a problem because most of the issues are formulated as initiatives. When formulating the plans, the School should also develop measurable outcomes to have objective evaluation. Many activities that were implemented can be measured, e.g. internationalization, case teaching, infrastructure development, etc.
- There is also a need to separate “Performance” from “Evidence”, because these two notions often overlap. “Evidence” relates to specific facts that support the School’s assessment of performance. However, without specific plans with specific targets, it will be difficult to evaluate performance and identify shortcomings and further issues for improvement.
- The School declared that it is in the preparatory stage of adjusting the mission of the School, so no mission statement is made available. Indeed, the School needs to consider formulating its mission statement clearly, at least some guidelines or provisional mission statement will help the external stakeholders to identify the uniqueness of the School, and will assist the School in integrating its team, especially the new faculty members.
- The School appears to be moving vigorously in reforming the curriculum, strengthening faculty, and globalizing its education. The School’s location in the Northeastern part of China provides an added advantage for the School to offer a unique MBA program. However, there is lack of information on what conviction, aspiration or guidance is driving the present reforms and the formulation of the reform strategy. During the Peer Review Visit, the School has explained the co-ordination mechanism between the MBA Steering Committee and the School in developing the curriculum for the MBA program at NEU. The MBA Steering Committee is the national level co-ordination body. The School needs to develop the mechanism to incorporate the unique value of the MBA program based on the resources and strengths of NEU, and develop the systems to evaluate the program learning outcomes in the changing environment.
- The School’s effort to go for international certification is commendable. However, the School should develop its internal quality improvement system based on systematic analysis, not over-relying on international certification as the only quality improvement mechanism.
- The purpose of internationalization is to be stated explicitly for the activities to be monitored and reviewed periodically.
- The School may consider developing a more systematic arrangement to involve key stakeholders in curriculum development and review, for instance setting up an advisory board or appointing industry advisors and external examiners to review the program curriculum and learning outcome periodically.
- In the process of selecting the best and talented students for the program, the School would also need to ensure that the selection reflects a diversified student profile, in particular to take into consideration the diversified background of students, especially international students, and to develop a more comprehensive enrollment policy for the program.
- In the process of actively recruiting young faculty, especially those with international or industry exposure, the School may consider appointing adjunct or visiting professors from its international and industry partners to fill the gap in human resources requirements. In addition to recruiting new staff, the School may undertake measures to upgrade the existing staff to enhance their expertise in teaching and research, as well as their capability to promote industry linkages and globalization.
- The School needs to look into the staffing issue, especially the staff overload problem. In particular, as the number of students has increased and the School’s activities are expanding fast, there is a need to develop an efficient administrative system (both online and offline), and to review the system periodically. The School needs to look into workload allocation, increase the number of administrative staff and provide relevant training to enable administrative staff to provide better support for the functioning of the MBA Centers.
- In addition to relying on the national research grants, the School may explore the opportunity to source funding from industry through consultation projects. The School needs to diversify its sources of income to ensure financial sustainability for the School and the program.
- The School’s website should be improved to allow access outside China and to provide the English version to attract potential students from other countries.
- The School needs to ensure that the facilities are available to all students at their convenience, especially for working adults.
- The feedback gathered from interviews with the students revealed that students are satisfied with the learning activities prepared for them. However, they wish to have more opportunities to link up with the industry and to learn more practical insights from industry leaders.
- The PRT didn’t get a chance to talk to international students during the Peer Review Visit. Also, the local students are not interacting with the international students as IMBA is a separate program for international students. The School may consider organizing some common courses to allow the local and international students to interact and learn in the same classroom.
The School’s Feedback:
2. Dramatic Quality Improvement
“Scientific KAIZEN Management for Entrepreneurship and Management Innovation”
The School has taken a scientific approach to identify issues for improvement, develop the workflows and implement the plans systematically. The improvement process was conducted in phases, whereby research was done to collect data from key stakeholders, and then analysis was conducted to provide the inputs for the formulation of relevant action plans. During the online Peer Review Visit, the PRT gained a better understanding that the School has taken many efforts to improve its educational quality, based on information collected from various sources. In addition, the School has introduced new courses to cultivate entrepreneurial leadership and to train business elites with digital intelligence as well as global vision.
3. Matters to be noted
- The School is advised to indicate the schedule for performing the Action Plans. The School needs to translate its aims and intentions into specific plans with targets, measurable outcomes and schedules. This will help to monitor the progress and take corrective measures if necessary.
- The School is also advised to increase the number of administrative staff in accordance with the number of students.
- The School has mentioned that it is now in the preparatory stage of adjusting the mission of the school. It is recommended that the School provides a provisional mission to serve as a guide for the program development.
- The International MBA Program (IMBA) is mentioned in fragmentary pieces. A comprehensive analysis of the IMBA program is missing from the Desk Review. It is a cause of concern as t NEU IMBA Program is dormant at present. There should be more efforts to develop the IMBA program and to better integrate local and international students in t program.
- The School is recommended to incorporate feedback from key stakeholders systematically for continuous quality improvement purposes.
- The School is also advised to provide relevant and regular staff development programs to administrative staff to better support the School’s operations, especially promotion of internationalization activities.
The School’s Feedback: