The Official Pathways Commission

The Commission on Accounting Higher Education: Pathways to a Profession

This is a public Pathways  public


  • Bruce K Behn
    Feedback from AAA Spring Council Meeting, 2011
    discussion posted April 5, 2011 by Bruce K Behn in Pathways Discussion Page public

    1.  Which of the ideas and issues discussed do you believe are the most important to be included in the Pathways Commission’s recommendations?

    -       Accounting is fundamental to operating capital markets is key

    -       We need data

    -       Need to turn STEM into STEAM

    -       Need to optimize first course content

    -       Need signature pedagogy

    -       Competencies, do we need to review for future, technology

    -       Bringing the academic and practice community together is KEY to better research, teaching, and a better profession

    -       More emphasis needs to be put on PQ faculty, need more credit for practitioner articles

    -       Need to work on signature pedagogy for accounting

    -       Improving the rigor of the course and establishing better coordination with the accounting profession

    -       The accounting pathways need to be more dynamic

    -       Like the idea of including the complete supply chain

    -       We do need data to help us understand supply/demand, salary structure etc.

    -       Important to define and measure what accountants do

    -       Address how users learn about accounting

    -       Getting data on results of our education efforts & like salaries is very interesting

    -       Value proposition

    -       Gathering data

    -       The “Gathering Storm” is a good model

    -       Consider in Phase 2 looking at all of K-12 issues that impact college education

    -       Need to read new book on academic drift

    -       Students learn little firm two years in college, need to look at professors’ performance measurement

    -       Attracting the best and brightest

    -       Enhance image of accounting profession broadly defined

    -       We are so far behind in technology, we may make ourselves obsolete

    -       Should value proposition be defined by consumers given importance of starting salaries and how they reflect value

    -       Use COSO ERM approach

    -       Textbooks are the problem -  they are clones and foster uncreative thinking

    -       Attract top students

    -       Determine novel ways to present necessary knowledge content

    2.  Were there things discussed that you disagreed with or see differently?

    -       The entire high school/recruiting question is really 2 questions 1) avoiding negative/vocational perceptions of what accounting that come from student’s perceptions from “accounting “ classes in high school which really don’t effect what we do and 2) recruiting the best and brightest students into accounting.  AP/Dual credit is proposed as a strategy to both of these but maybe it solves that 2 questions

    -       Bookeeping in High School is the problem

    -       Too much focus on high school, need to fix our problems first

    -       Focus on AP test – Real question is what should be in the equivalent of a Junior level course

    -       Don’t see attracting students into the profession as a big issue, what do we do with them once we get them?, are we teaching them the right things, does the CPA exam test the right things?

    -       Don’t see why we need a value proposition

    -       Need to drop AP effort will never happen

    -       Don’t think we to answer Treasury’s department requests.  The accounting profession was not at fault for the financial crisis

    -       Do other business disciplines have the data (we) are seeking

    -       Do we have an accounting academy?

    -       Why do firms have to “train” new employees before the new employees start work?

    -       Much of the problem is that we are evaluated by the students, something must be done about current teaching evaluation system

    -       The burning platform maybe needs more work or better articulation.  The third bullet point is the best one right now

    -       Tension between grad only program vs high school

    -       I am not convinced that an accounting brand effort is going to make up for the limited perception accountants get out of tax/legal tumbles

    -       I still see way too much focus on auditing/CPAs.  Why is the AICPA even involved?

    -       What are firms paying an competitive salary for our accounting graduates?  We are part the problem, maybe we should limit supply

    3.  Are there additional issues/ideas you would recommend that the commission explore that were not discussed here?

    -       The may be really belong in Box 1, because it is reflective some, but I find the number of Ph.D. grads with not professional experience to be appalling.  There are many reasons for this, but two of them are the narrow range of what we consider “good’ and “rigorous” in the tenure review process and standards we use for evaluating the success of ph.d. programs.  I think this may also by a symptom of the the fact that we don’t have a dialogue with the profession.

    -       Some of what makes accounting interesting are the application of “higher order thinking skills.”  Some of the brain development that accompanies these skills occurs near the end of college.  This means that many students in K-14 are still developing the brain connections that enhance this (need to explore this more).

    -       I don’t think I heard anything about how to capitalize on the 150 hour inspired MAcc programs

    -       producers of financial information are important, but the value of accounting information will not be realized without education consumers

    -       While I think the accumulation of data that me do my job better.  I don’t think it is so important to spend time building up our brand or status

    -       Globalization and its impact on the commission

    -       Look at the system that Texas A&M is imposing on the evaluation of professors

    -       Has the profession ever considered fighting back on the stereotype of accountants, recently I lost a student to engineering because the engineering school said she had too much personality to be an accountant 

    -       Accounting as grad school only like law and medicine

    -       Need to incorporate information from the Jenkins report

    -       The role of ethics, sustainability, responsibility to the broader community are not being addressed.  Need to move further from the focus of CPAs.

    -       Need a television show that gives accountants a better image

    -       One burning platform issue is the concentration of public accounting firm consolidation.

    -       Need to emphasize the importance of accounting to entrepreneurship.

  • Molly Wash
    Feedback from the Virginia Society of CPAs Educators...
    discussion posted February 25, 2011 by Molly Wash in Pathways Discussion Page public

    What is the value proposition for a broadly defined accounting profession?
    The profession should look at the public’s view of the role accountants play in society. The general public still equates CPAs primarily with doing taxes and audits. A broadly defined accounting profession would advertise and utilize the profession's skills more fully.

    Who/what are our current/future markets for accounting information and professionals? What are the skills that future accounting professionals will require?
    The profession will retain its traditional markets of auditing, tax and consulting. In addition, the adoption of IFRS will open international markets. The profession will also play a vital role in sustainability issues. Future accounting professionals will need to be knowledgeable in IFRS, have significant computer, communication, quantitative, team building and critical thinking skills.

    How do we attract adequate numbers of high potential, diverse students/talent into the accounting profession and retain these students throughout their educational and professional pathways?
    The profession must target and provide more information about the profession to high school students. There is still a stigma attached to the profession. 

    What should be the accounting educational pathways?
    The CPA certification is not for every student. Some students will successfully pursue the CPA, while others will find successful careers in government and corporations without being a CPA. We need to make sure that their education allows them to be successful in public, private or governmental accounting.

    How do we eliminate structural impediments or better align existing systems to enhance effective accounting education?
    Funding is the most important issue. Many smaller schools cannot afford salaried Ph.D. faculty or offer a variety of accounting courses.


  • Brenda Hubbard
    Feedback from the Florida Institute of CPAs Relations with...
    discussion posted January 6, 2011 by Brenda Hubbard in Pathways Discussion Page public

    What is the value proposition for a broadly defined accounting profession?

    The profession of accounting was seen as the watchdog of corporate responsibility for many years.  We were known and relied upon for acting not on behalf of our clients but also for third party users of financial information.  This pivotal role of the accountant has been abused over the recent years by auditors in such cases as Enron. Thus, the profession, in the eyes of the public, has lost integrity.  We need to reclaim that trust and continue to be the watchdogs of financial information.

    Who/what are our current/future markets for accounting information and professionals?

    The traditional markets for accounting information will continue to exist.  All businesses have a need for proper recording of accounting information and the presentation of financial information in a consistent format.  The new markets will grow out of the application of the International Financial Reporting Standards to the United States, continued globalization of markets, and the expansion of the online world.  Last, the growth in forensic accounting should continue as users of financial information expect more reliable information.

    What are the skills that future accounting professionals will require?

    The basic skills of a successful accountant have not changed much since the inception of the profession.  All accountants should excel at:

    • Quantitative skills
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Attention to detail

    Over the years, additional skills have been included as the profession has evolved, they including:

    • Communication skills – oral and written
    • Knowledge of technology
    • Multi-cultural awareness through knowledge of world history, geography, and culture
    • Team building skills
    • Research skills
    • Knowledge of other languages

    The most important skill is a strong ethical basis.  This must be taught in the curriculum but more importantly must be inherent in the person.

    How do we attract adequate numbers of high potential, diverse students/talent into the accounting profession and retain these students throughout their educational and professional pathways?

    The potential for quality students must start with a strong, hard look at the K-12 education system.  The profession must work within that system to improve student skills prior to their arrival in college.  Students must graduate high school with strong quantitative and communication skills along with a background in history, science, and geography.  In today’s global market, failure to understand the dynamics of a culture and its history could cause misunderstandings to accountant and his/her employers.  High school graduates entering college with these skills can concentrate on the second level of skills needed to succeed in the profession.

    In many high schools, accounting is seen as a technical skill and not an academic profession.  Therefore, many good students are told not to take accounting but to concentrate on the general education courses and liberal arts programs.  We need to change that mentality within the K-12 teachers and counselors. 

    The profession needs to provide information to students about the profession as early as high school.  Students who excel in math should be made aware of the opportunities in the accounting profession and what courses are recommended throughout their high school years.  Information on the profession should not only focus on career pathways but also social responsibility within the profession.

    The issue of diversity is important as the global nature of business increases.  Unfortunately, many of these students fail to have access to funds for a college education.  These high potential minority students need not only funding for the costs of tuition and related college expenses and also for living expenses.  We need to find ways to provide this funding for all four years of college.  The profession’s investment in these students will provide a new market for the next generation of accountants. 

    What should be the accounting educational pathways?

    The first step in the development of the educational pathways is to create more communication between the accounting faculty and the profession.  Not with just a select few that are constantly asked to participate but a broader audience.  On the profession’s side, this would include accounting firms (small, medium, and large), corporate accountants, tax accountants, and governmental accountants allowing all employers equal representation.  The faculty side should reflect college and university faculty from across the country.

    The profession of accounting should be divided into several pathways.  The first track would be for individuals interested in studying basic accounting skills for employment as what is termed a “bookkeeper”.  Those individuals would not need to have the highest skill levels of the profession.  The second track is for those students interested in a college degree in accounting but not planning to earn the CPA license.  These students would be interested in working in corporations and would concentrate on managerial accounting applications such as internal accounting information, cost accounting systems, managerial accounting information, management skills, and reporting functions so they would not be giving an opinion on financial information.  The last track would be for those students interested in attaining the CPA licenses.  This track would require more rigorous coursework for the students leading them to successfully pass the examination.

    How do we eliminate structural impediments or better align existing systems to enhance effective accounting education?

    The major impediment to enhancing effective accounting education is funding.  Many students majoring in accounting attend state funded institutions which are limited on the number of courses that students may take throughout their tenure for a degree.  These legislative impediments force many students to end their degrees lacking coursework that could make them more successful in their field.  The accounting professors are thereby forced to limit the courses that students are required to take or recommended to take to graduate. Many courses that would be of value to students in the accounting field are not offered at all.

  • Julie Smith David
    Ways to share and engage others:...
    discussion posted November 29, 2010 by Julie Smith David in Pathways Discussion Page public

    I don't want to sound self-serving, but ASU has been working on defining what it will take to become the "New American University," and they have been engaging a wide range of people to try and identify both the challenges and the opportunities that we face on the horizon.  What they're trying to do seems very similar to Pathways' objectives - just focused in a different (although overlapping) area.

    They have developed a new web page to help people stay engaged, and I thought you might find what they're doing interesting - and as you start to answer some of the major issues you've posed, you might want to do something similar.

    To see what they're doing: 

  • Bruce K Behn
    Feedback From Tennessee Society of Accounting Educators...
    discussion posted October 12, 2010 by Bruce K Behn in Pathways Discussion Page public

    Below are comments made from participants at the TSAE conference:

    - Accountants image needs to be more exciting (Law & Order for accountants).

    - Come up with an automated online auditing system for tax returns to reduce labor costs.

    - Need para - professional designations.

    - Stagnant faculty salaries.

    - Declining math competencies.

    - Complexity overloads (tax, FASB, etc.).

    - Need to increase cooperation between academics and practice.

    - Commission top-heavy with CPAs and academcis, what about others?

    - Need rules simplication.

    - Lack of experience updating opportunities.

    - Big disconnect between academics and standard setting/regulatory community.

    - Empirical research is regularly rewarded over quality educational delivery.

    - Better integration of technology.

    - Need to more attract high caliber students into accounting from high schools.

    - Need to attract more people into accounting Ph.D. programs.

    - Students need more critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and ethics.

    - Need more awareness that small businesses need accounting skills sets (appears that these are not valued now).

    - Need more specialization in accounting, following medical model.

    - Corporate responsibility and financial integrity need more emphasis in accounting education.

    - Need to get people on board with IFRS.

    - Students need better foundational skills (e.g., math and technology).

    - Compeitition for talent is now global, and our students need a better awareness of this.

    - Need more integration of financial and managerial accounting in educational systems.