Gisma: Accreditation Bluff
„High quality degrees awarded by GISMA, one of six AMBA accredited schools in Germany“ Gisma advertised on its website. These include a Bachelor in Data Science, AI and Digital Business, a Master in Leadership for Digital Transformation and a Bachelor in Software Engineering.
Screenshot: gisma.com, 15.8.2022
Even at the Computer Science Master of Engineering it said: „GISMA Business School is a state recognised University of Applied Sciences which also benefits from AMBA accreditation, an honour shared by only 6 business schools in Germany and 2 % of all business schools worldwide. The prestigious AMBA accreditation represents innovation and excellence in education, which is core to our values of GISMA.“
Screenshot: gisma.com. 15.8.2022
Quite as if the Computer Master is also accredited by the AMBA. But the British AMBA mainly accredits MBA programs, and that only applies to the Global MBA.
And for the Master in Leadership for Digital Transformation, although it says that the school has received AMBA accreditation for the Global MBA, it also claims: „Additional accreditation received from AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS and EPAS“. This is false. Gisma does not have accreditation from AABSB, EQUIS and EPAS.
Screenshot: gisma.com, 15.8.2022
The misstatements are unlikely to be a coincidence or an oversight. As the university uses the AMBA accreditation conspicuously prominently for its marketing.
Screenshot gisma.com, 18.8.2022
In 2011, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) had accredited the MBA programs of Gisma Business School in Hannover for the first time. At the time, Gisma Business School in Hanover was not a recognized university. It therefore could not award academic degrees and therefore offered franchised programs where the MBA degree was awarded by other business schools. These MBA programs were therefore accredited as franchise programs at Gisma Global GmbH in Hanover (Hanover Local Court HRB 210397).
In addition to Gisma Global GmbH in Hannover, there is now also Gisma University of Applied Sciences GmbH in Potsdam (Potsdam Local Court HRB 35061 P), which has been state-accredited as a university of applied sciences in Brandenburg since September 2020 and offers its own new Global MBA from May 2021.
This new MBA has also been accredited by the AMBA, even before the first course of study has even started. So Gisma was already advertising its AMBA accreditation in March. The AMBA wrote on April 11, 2021: „We have reviewed the new GISMA MBA program in accordance with our criteria. This includes detailed faculty and study information and plans.“ Logically, information on students and class size was not yet available, as the program had not yet started. It is interesting to note that Gisma refused to provide the author with a syllabus when asked and even potential students received only very sparse information.
So AMBA simply transferred the accreditation from one company (Gisma Global GmbH) to another (Gisma University of Applied Sciences GmbH). It wrote: „AMBA accredits the GISMA franchised MBA programs, which are operated in conjunction with other AMBA accredited schools, and the new GISMA MBA program.“
It is unclear whether the Global MBA started in Potsdam in May 2021, and if so, with how many students. The university refused to provide information on this. It wrote only that „the start of studies for the young university had been successful“. According to information provided by Gisma to the Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office, the university reported a total of 29 online students in the summer semester of 2021 for the seven degree programs offered at the time. That would be an average of about four students per program if they had all started – which Gisma claims they would have.
Gisma makes AMBA look like a fool
But to be accredited by AMBA, 20 students are the minimum in the MBA class. When asked, AMBA writes: „We have forwarded your email onto GiSMA and asked them for their response.“ Apparently, Gisma´s response to AMBA is that not all programs have started. Upon further inquiry, AMBA writes: „The first GISMA cohort met our criteria and the second cohort is even larger.“
The number of 29 online students at the latest should have made the AMBA sit up and take notice. After all, if there are 20 MBA students, that leaves a maximum of nine students for the remaining courses. But at the AMBA trust the Gisma and let it look like a fool with their deceptive data. In response to an inquiry about misleading advertising with AMBA, the latter writes: „We have instructed GISMA to specify on their website program references to AMBA that it is their MBA program which is AMBA accredited.“ The misstatements have disappeared.
AMBA also does not provide any information about the duration of the accreditation. That’s because it’s top secret. All this does not make AMBA a credible accreditation organization.
For Gisma in Potsdam, AMBA accreditation is of course worth its weight in gold, as it suggests approved quality. Gisma is part of the profit-oriented education group Global University Systems (GUS), which focuses primarily on recruiting international students. Around a thousand agencies and agents around the world work to lure young people, preferably from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other emerging countries, to one of the GUS schools – in this case to Germany. In June, the NZZ reported in an article on how agents in India arrange places for prospective students. Mentioned there is also the BSBI in Berlin – a GUS school.
With the exception of Gisma, GUS schools are not accredited by AMBA. So it is probably a coincidence that the AMBA Board includes the Group Chief Financial Officer of GUS. He is „Vice Chairman of AMBA’s Board of Trustees and is the organization’s Honorary Treasurer. He also serves as Chair of the Finance and Risk Committee and as a member of the HR and Nominations Committee.“
Advertising with Ukrainian castle
Deception is nothing new at Gisma. For example, Gisma had advertised the picturesque castles in Potsdam in a promotional film. To see was however a castle in the Ukraine. On facebook this was still the case (Screenshot facebook, 18.8.2022)