Dr Ronald Tuninga wants universities to make a social impact
It was announced on 13 October that Dr Ronald Tuninga, a popular member of the Wittenborg family, is resigning as Vice-President of Academic Affairs at WUAS to start a new chapter in his professional career as Vice-President and Managing Director Europe, the Middle East and Africa of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This is the world's largest alliance for business education and accreditation, where he will oversee the membership of more than 500 business schools in the EMAE region. Long before he arrived at WUAS, Tuninga's life was filled with unexpected twists and adventures in international education, beginning when he moved to the USA to study. Or as he describes in an interview, 'I went there with only two suitcases; I lost one on arrival and came back with two containers of stuff and a family with two children.'
Tuninga joined Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences in 2018, where he would assist the school with his knowledge on accreditation, especially Wittenborg's journey through the prestigious AACSB accreditation, in which the school has made significant progress. He saw how Wittenborg attracts many students from African countries, where he also taught. To date, around 20% of the school's academic talent is African. 'Wittenborg manages to make their students feel at home, which is why Wittenborg has such a large number of African students, especially compared to other universities in the Netherlands. There is also an availability of accommodation for international students, which is a problem for many foreign students studying in the Netherlands.' Tuninga highlights that Wittenborg's sense of community is also attractive to foreign students. 'Because the school is so small, it gives you a family feeling.'
Although he cherishes his time at Wittenborg, when the opportunity to work within AACSB came along, he knew he could not pass it up, even though it came as a surprise to him. 'It was more of a coincidence than a real career plan, which I didn't really have at the time,' he says. The reason he took the job is because it fits perfectly with his motivation for starting a PhD programme in Ghana: to give everyone in the world access to good education. 'I think it would have a great social impact if more African business schools joined the AACSB, because they could learn from European well-qualified business schools. But it's a two-way street: European business schools can also learn from business schools from other continents,' Tuninga explains. 'If you want to train people the right way, you also need to understand their environment and their cultural background.'
The importance of securing accreditations
In the Netherlands having state accredited programmes is a legal requirement, and each programme must go through NVAO accreditation on a cycle of 5-6 years. It is the university or business school's direct responsibility to manage the process and ensure accreditations for all its programmes are retained. Failure to do so would mean that degrees are invalid and could cause closure of a programme or even a university. Wittenborg chose long ago to maintain at least double accreditation for its BBA, MBA and MSc programmes. AACSB will be the first all-encompassing institutional accreditation the school has gone through.
According to Tuninga, 'You have to be very careful to get approval, especially if you are a school like Wittenborg that runs a transnational education programme. Wittenborg has done that in a very careful way.' In October, Wittenborg received news that the MBM/MSc programme is on track for FIBAA accreditation. 'At Wittenborg, several top and knowledgeable staff are working to secure and maintain accreditation.' Tuninga also sees that diligence and is, therefore, confident that Wittenborg will not face any issues.
Wittenborg thanks Ron Tuninga for his commitment and wishes him well in his position as Vice-President and Managing Director, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the AACSB. He will always remain part of the Wittenborg family.
by Niels Otterman