China’s Transitional Economy and its Effects on Accounting Education and Practice | SpringerLink
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Breaking old hierarchies and rigid work practices could be a considerable challenge to many accounting firms. One consultant, Allison Ashby, was reported as making the following comments Thomas, , p. Rightly or wrongly they also perceive the work variety in companies to be better…. Middle tier and small firms, in particular, will have to make serious attempts to address these perceptions if they are to be able to attract a suitably high level of raw material for future gold collar accountants. What are the implications for accounting education?
Given the forces for change and the accompanying skills set reviewed so far, what are some of the issues accounting educators must address if they are to supply the sort of future graduates that the profession requires? The release of a major review of accounting education in the US Albrecht and Sack, provides one source of valuable evidence and insights into this issue.
Why this matters
In Chapter 5 of their monograph it is suggested that there are six broad problems with the current state of accounting education: 1. Pedagogy—the teaching of accounting is dominated by a rule based approach which promotes memorisation rather than creativity. Faculty development and reward systems—accounting teachers are largely divorced from teachers of other business disciplines and business practitioners. Strategic direction—most accounting schools have failed to strategically plan for the changes to their environment and as such have lost ground to other disciplines and other education providers.
These problems are explored below. Despite actual and predicted changes in business practice, accounting is still largely taught within the long established format of lectures, tutorials and workshops and from the perspective as if it consists of nothing more than a series of discrete independent topics relating to technical matters, usually entirely divorced from other related disciplines.
For example, intermediate accounting courses are usually a litany of technical bookkeeping subjects such as lease accounting, consolidations, and tax-effect accounting with limited attempts to inter-relate the various topics to each other or to place them in a realistic and interesting business context.
In addition, most of these courses on accounting theory and concepts are actually taught towards the end of an undergraduate degree. Consequently, it is not surprising that many accounting students find accounting theory irrelevant and uninteresting—the exact opposite of what their reaction should be!
The challenge of the new information professional will be to formulate the strategy to align or mesh the right information with particular and generic problems requiring decisions. An overemphasis on accounting rules and techniques will clearly not meet these aims. These students are now choosing to major in other business areas such as finance, strategy, information technology and e-commerce. The two researchers even found that many accounting teachers and practitioners would not choose to undertake the accounting courses they took as students if the approach and content of teaching was to remain the same!
As such, they argue, accounting is in danger of becoming a second class citizen relative to other business majors because these alternative fields of study appear to reflect changing business practices. On the other hand, as Mathews , pp. Nevertheless, even Mathews , p. These issues are common to many [non-US] systems of accounting education. These problems of course content and declining student interest are only exacerbated by university administrations that, particularly for the long established institutions, have been driven more by research interests and, perhaps, scholarly prejudices rather than by teaching quality.
Practitioners too have traditionally encouraged an entrenched technical approach to accounting education. For instance, some sectors of the profession have persistently complained that universities produce graduates, who cannot instantly be turned to profitable activities. The professional accounting bodies have also, until recently, promoted the command of technical accounting, tax and auditing rules as the primary benchmark to satisfy their entrance examinations. It seems that if accountants are ever to become gold collar workers, then both universities including university administrators and the practitioners must change their perspective away from the short-term and technical and more towards the long-term and adaptability.
In the new millennium, the practicality of an accountant is not to be judged by competence in procedures alone, but also by capacities in problem solving and client advice. Our discussion of the gold collar worker indicated that we must move away from an approach that seeks to pass on to our students a thorough knowledge of all the technical rules of accounting or tax, etc.
With the rate of change in business and business regulation it is simply becoming physically impossible to be an encyclopaedia of rules. Bandy , p. Mautz reports that, in , A. Or would want to? Rather law schools attempt to provide students with skills needed to conduct legal research. Moot court serves to provide students with simulated courtroom experiences before they serve real life clients.
Recent developments in accounting education and the future of the AICPA 150‐hour requirement
Williams , p. Especially important, students should develop good communication and interpersonal skills. In addition, their ethical and professional values should be enhanced. If students can learn how to find answers, then they are well prepared for a lifetime career. To achieve these outcomes, various innovative strategies must be devised, tested and incorporated into the teaching methods and curriculum of accounting courses. This has the advantage of exposing students to different mind sets and of setting the course material in a wider business context.
- How learning theories can be applied in accounting education?
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This would help students appreciate the interrelationships between all aspects of a firm. In the words of Albrecht and Sack , p. Eraut , p. Hence knowledge used only in the training context will not be the same as apparently similar knowledge used on the job; and knowledge used in one job context will not be quite the same as apparently similar knowledge used in a different context.
However, given that most mainstream accounting and finance courses may have many hundreds of students in them, work-based learning opportunities will be admittedly difficult to implement. Past experience suggests that implementing these sorts of pedagogical changes is more easily said than done see, for example, Mathews, The types of resistance that might be encountered and the barriers to change are explored in the next section of this paper but one example of the types of changes that might and can be made can be found in Australia.
The objectives and proposed learning techniques dovetail very well with the observations made here in that the ICAA is clearly seeking to develop the types of skills it identified earlier in its various surveys. The candidates seek to obtain these objectives via a varied mix of teamwork and individual exercises, self-study materials, on-line learning methods, and weekly work- shops.