13 Sep

Accounting Education: Where are we heading?

Back in 1994 Sir David Tweedy, Chair of the Accounting Standards Board, asks: ‘“What is the difference between an auditor and an airport luggage trolley?”. Silence ensues, then the answer comes: “The trolley has a mind of its own.”

Now, apply this to accounting education in general; undergraduate, postgraduate and professional alike. How often students are taught to think for themselves and are trusted to solve real practical problems? These are the candidates we are training and making ready for the workplace to guide and support our companies for the future; a future which no one knows what will happen five years later.

The current world we live in is moving fast beneath our feet, to the extent we are playing catch-up with tech entrepreneurs and disruptors. It is clear that standard setting boards and industry regulating bodies, are slow in their support when it comes to education and its impact on the future skills which are meant to take us to into the unknown.

One business school in central London has taken a unique approach to accounting education.

Will Holt, Dean of Pearson Business School, explains:

“The accounting industry is fast changing and we need to equip our students with the skills which make them not only problem solvers but also employable based on their applicable technological skills. We have designed our accounting courses in collaboration with FTSE 100 companies, auditing firms, the banking and technology industries.

Our students have the opportunity to go on placements during their course and work with industry leading organisations to develop their skills to complement their theoretical education.

Employers are starting to ask for key ingredients from candidates who wish to join them. Our approach to education is a good combination of professional speakers, practical experience and exam success”

Laura Marshall, Programme Leader for Accountancy, added:

“We have made our predictive analytics module an option for postgraduate students. This will prepare our graduates who wish to springboard into the arena of financial analytics through prior use of such technologies at our business school and their placements.

Pearson Business School has many entrepreneurs and professional speakers, complementing the delivery of our education style, preparing and recruiting students from our business school based very much on these education qualities we deliver.”

We only need to look at the recruitment criteria employers are asking for and understand how academic inflation is increasing the entry requirements for a given role which could be suitable for a bachelor degree ten years ago, but now requires a master graduate. It is clear that education plays a large role in the quality of business and is a means to provide the very foundation which a career can be built upon. Many other education providers are comfortable treating students as information receivers; for how long, time will tell.

We can now see Sir Tweedy’s vision in the light of how we can prepare future accountants; not to go off in “uncontrolled directions”, but train them to carry the necessary skills
to contribute to better business and in the direction of choice.

Person Business School was founded by Pearson Plc, a the multinational publishing and education company founded in 1840 and currently listed on the FTSE 100 index.

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