Accounting Educators, Take Note

By Tatikonda, Lakshmi U.; McKnight, Janet | Strategic Finance, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Accounting Educators, Take Note


Tatikonda, Lakshmi U., McKnight, Janet, Strategic Finance


September marks the beginning of a new school year, the start of classes, and an influx of university students. It's the season for new ideas, plans, and expectations. In the spirit of these fresh starts, Strategic Finance is introducing a bi-monthly column titled "Academic Corner." This column is designed to address the increasingly complex and dynamic environment faced by today's organizations, the increasing need for qualified accounting and finance professionals, and the implications for accounting education.

Demand for accounting and finance professionals has soared in the wake of the financial disasters of Enron, MCI, and Tyco, just to name a few. As reported in the March 1, 2005, issue of The Wall Street Journal, a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that accounting is the number-one major employers are demanding in 2005. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nearly 400,000 new jobs for accountants, auditors, and management analysts over the 10-year period ending in 2012. This was reported in "Tomorrow's Jobs," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 ed., http://www.bls.gov/oco/reprints/ocor001.pdf.

College students' interest in the accounting profession is also strong, up approximately 10% over last year. But despite this recent surge in student interest, the number of accounting graduates in the 2002-03 school year was 26% lower than the historic highs of more than 50,000 graduates in the early to mid-1990s, CFO magazine reported in its May 2005 issue. The increased demand for accounting professionals coupled with the low number of accounting graduates is expected to result in a severe shortage of qualified accounting and finance professionals. Other factors that may compound this projected shortfall, CFO found, include the high retirement rate of qualified professionals born in the Baby Boom generation and the large number of individuals leaving the accounting profession after just two to five years of experience.

Accounting educators need to help businesses meet their hiring needs for accounting and finance professionals by increasing the number of students pursuing accounting majors. They can start by adopting active learning strategies such as realworld cases, learning teams, and computerbased learning modules that make the accounting curriculum more relevant and interesting. Establishing and maintaining students' interest as they progress through the accounting curriculum and experience increasingly difficult curricular requirements is essential to keeping students as accounting majors and thereby increasing the number of accounting program graduates.

Accounting educators also must update their curriculum. Incorporating new theoretical concepts and changes in regulations affecting the accounting profession into the curriculum is essential, but it isn't enough. They need to provide students opportunities to consider realworld situations. For example, they can adopt a service learning project in a class, require an accounting internship for graduation, and encourage student participation in extracurricular activities such as IMA's Annual Student Case Competition (see p. 45 for this year's case).

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The primary objective of this bimonthly column is to create an avenue for exploring a wide variety of ideas, thoughts, and experiences of academic and professional interest. …

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