Magazine article The CPA Journal

Implementing IFRS Curriculum into Accounting Programs

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Implementing IFRS Curriculum into Accounting Programs

Article excerpt

Late in 2008, the SEC published for public comment a proposed road map for the implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by U.S. corporations. On behalf of FASB, the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) responded and supported the goal of a single set of high-quality international standards.

The SEC recognizes that, in order for U.S. issuers to use IFRS, certain milestones must be reached. One of these milestones is the need for training and education about IFRS, including changes to curricula by universities and colleges. In response, it is reasonable to assume that the large accounting firms with global clients have an interest in students graduating from accounting programs with a knowledge and understanding of IFRS.

The demand by the SEC and large accounting firms for IFRS education in new hires is a challenge to accounting programs across the country. In the SECs statement summarizing comment letters to the road map, the commission acknowledges that it may require significant changes to curricula in order to incorporate IFRS. Therefore, it will 1) evaluate the current level of IFRS expertise and IFRS education required of constituents and 2) consider the extent of, logistics for, and estimated time constituents would need to implement training. In the meantime, whether colleges and universities agree or disagree with the SECs road map, they are faced with the decision of how to adopt IFRS education. Even for schools that embrace the H7RS curriculum, the cost in terms of time and faculty resources, as well as finding room within a well-established accounting curriculum, can be significant.

In the past few years, firms that have an interest in hiring students with an understanding of IFRS have been assisting accounting programs throughout the country in implementing an IFRS curriculum by making resources available to universities. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) awarded $700,000 in grants to 26 universities (see Sidebar). Imple-mentation of the curriculum was slated to take place during the 2009-2010 academic year. Another $300,000 was granted to 15 universities for implementation during the 2010-2011 academic year. Other firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte, have implemented programs to assist universities in IFRS curriculum development (www.ey.com/US/en/ Newsroom/News-releases/Emst-and-Youngexpano^-its-comrnitment-to-help-universitiesprepare-students-for-IFRS ; www. deloitte. com/view/en_US/us/Services/additionalservices/IFRS/e87dfd0057101210VgnVC M100000ba42f00aRCRD.htm).

Teaching IFRS: A Survey

To better understand how accounting programs are integrating IFRS into their curriculum, the author surveyed the universities participating in the PwC grant program. Thirty-eight grant recipients were asked general questions about their respective IFRS curricula. Because four grants (five schools) were awarded in order to develop cases and assignments, those recipients were excluded from the results of the survey. Nineteen of the remaining 34 grant recipients responded to the survey. The websites of the schools not responding to the survey were examined for any available information.

The universities were asked about the development of IFRS material, the courses that would deliver the IFRS material, and the format of content delivery. In addition, questions were asked regarding the target authence for IFRS and any relevant feedback from students and faculty.

A significant majority of universities responding to the survey integrated IFRS material into their current curriculum (79%), with only four of the 19 universities developing stand-alone courses. The survey identified four programs that have integrated IFRS into all of their accounting courses. The course that was integrated most often with IFRS was the intermediate accounting course, with 14 out of 15 schools integrating IFRS into at least one part of their intermediate accounting sequence, if not the complete sequence. …

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