Bridging the gap between accounting education


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Bridging the gap between accounting education

  1. 1. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES Bridging the gap between accounting education and professional practices To begin with we would like to provide some information about the essence of accounting as professional area. It is important to answer the main question of this research – how to bridge the gap between accounting education and professional practices. Doing business is not an easy task. It is associated with the process of making daily decisions, which are able to influence efficiency of this business. They are made by the different people – from a company’s managers to its clients. Obviously, in order to make these decisions effectively we need appropriate information basis. This basis can be provided by accounting and financial analysis. “The purpose of accounting is to provide the information that is needed for sound economic decision making. The main purpose of financial accounting is to prepare financial reports that provide information about a firm's performance to external parties such as investors, creditors, and tax authorities” (Financial Accounting). In short, the main goal of accounting is to provide informational basis for making reasonable decisions by the different stakeholders of a company. We can divide these stakeholders into two groups – internal and external ones. External stakeholders are a company’s clients, shareholders, partners, investors, creditors and regulative bodies. Internal stakeholders are a company’s managers and employees. These groups of stakeholders have different purposes of making decisions. External stakeholders usually tend to get some benefits from investing in a company or from purchasing its goods and services. On the other hand, internal stakeholders need information to make decisions, related to a company’s production and financial operations, performance, in general.
  2. 2. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES According to this division we are able to point two types of accounting – financial and managerial accounting. Financial accounting is for external users, while managerial accounting is for internal users to make needed decisions. This is the main difference between these two kinds of accounting. Respectively, these two types may be prepared by the different professionals. Financial accounting must be conducted by the professional accountants, while managerial accounting can be prepared by simple employees, since it does not require some particular knowledge. Respectively, managerial accounting is not regulated by some strict principles or standards. It is usually done in form that is the most appropriate for the managers of a company. Financial accounting is regulated by the accounting standards, about which we are going to talk below. It caused by the fact that the main goal of financial accounting is to check a company’s reliability and transparency. It should be done to protect the interests of the mentioned groups of external stakeholders and society, in general. Despite a type of accounting, accounting is usually based on the accounting standards and principles. That is why we would like to say a few words about the accounting standards and organizations that develop them. Accounting standards are principles of accounting that are used to provide objectivity, transparency and efficiency of accounting procedures. These principles should be universal and standardized. A formal definition of the accounting standards is the following. “Accounting standards are rules according to which accounts have to be drawn up. They demand minimum levels of disclosure, lay down fundamental principles, define the meanings of terms and specify how numbers should be calculated” (Accounting Standards). Among the most famous accounting standards we may point out the following ones:
  3. 3. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES 1. The assumption of continuity implies that the enterprise will operate for the foreseeable future; 2. Principle of least cost implies that profits are revealed in the accounting only after actual receipt, and loss - immediately after the occurrence; 3. Principle of objectivity requires that the accounting data should be obtained from the duly executed original documents. Also, this principle can be treated as requirement to the accounting suggestions to be based only on objective information; 4. The principle of double entry system requires that each transaction is reflected on accounts twice (on the debit one account and credit - other); 5. The principle of balance requires equality between assets and liabilities of the company. Profession of accountant is probably one of the most interesting and difficult in business. In general, the main role of an accountant is to prepare reliable business information for a company’s stakeholders – from a company’s managers to clients, shareholders and regulative bodies. Any decision of these stakeholders is based on this information. That is why the role of accounting just cannot be overestimated. That is why an accountant bears a great responsibility. Ethical issues are one of the most important aspects in a profession of accountant. Alas, recent history has been characterized with a range of accounting standards, when the ethical issues have been broken. In these scandals accountants have committed financial frauds in order to get some benefits. Usually, they commit such frauds in order to hide information from regulative bodies and creditors; in order to show better financial picture of a company etc. Therefore we can say that a good accountant should meet the optimal combination of ethics and professionalism. It is a really difficult task. This task should be executed by both
  4. 4. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES educational and professional institutions. In fact, there are a lot of special courses and programs that provide appropriate preparation for accountants. For example, there are national and international institutions that issue special certificates, which are a great plus for professional accountants. Therefore we can conclude that there is not a great problem with educational opportunities for accountants. They combine traditional and commercial educational programs. However, there is another problem. We mean that there is some gap between accounting education and professional practices. Moreover, there is a great gap between academic accounting researches and professional practices. This opinion can be proved by the following words. “In recent times a number of commentators have indicated that accounting research has become insufficiently innovative and increasingly detached from practice and society. Hence a gap appears to have emerged between the concerns of policy makers, practitioners and academics as to the need to identify the impact of accounting research and to establish links between research output, practice and social impact” (Evans). Therefore, the majority of professional experts supposes that there is a significant gap between the so-called academic accounting and professional accounting. This gap exists between education and professional practices, accounting researches and practical recommendations. We are interested, first of all, in the gap between education and professional practices. Such gap may have a lot of significant consequences: First of all, graduates are not able to find an appropriate job, since their skills do not meet professional requirements. As a result, the degree of unemployment is growing;
  5. 5. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES Second of all, companies that propose accounting services are not able to hire professional employees. They are forced to spend additional financial resources on further professional education and development of their employees; Finally, the whole business society suffers from this situation, since it cannot get the optimal accounting services. In our opinion, the reasons for such gap are the following: Courses at universities are maintained by academic researchers that usually do not have appropriate professional experience. As a result, they can only teach some basic academic backgrounds, but not really useful practical issues; The accounting world is really fast changing. The accounting standards and principles are changing every day. It is simply impossible to follow these changes. Respectively, educational programs do not respond to professional standards very often; Traditional educational programs for accountants do not propose professional practices for students. It is an expensive approach. Only special courses propose such opportunities. However, these courses are expensive and not every student is able to handle it. The main question of this paper is how to bridge the mentioned gap. We believe that the following steps should be made: More financial resources should be accumulated for educational programs for accountants. Governmental and nongovernmental organizations, professional associations and accounting firms must become donors for such initiative; Professional accounting firms should propose opportunities for students to get professional experience during studies at university. They will be able to combine education with practice. It is going to increase their quality on a labor market;
  6. 6. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES Finally, we must say that not only respective accounting institutions should bear responsibility for bridging the gap under consideration. Students and future professional accountants also should understand this problem and do everything possible to eliminate it. They have to combine studies with practice in accounting companies, look for opportunities to get professional experience during studies at university. We believe that the mentioned steps are going to solve the problem under consideration. However, it is going to take a lot of time and financial resources.
  7. 7. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES References Accounting Education's Role in Corporate Malfeasance: It's Time for a New Curriculum! Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Adkins, N. Students' and Faculty Members' Perceptions of the Importance of Business Ethics and Accounting Ethics Education: Is There an Expectations Gap? Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Baxter, R. Does the Use of Intelligent Learning and Assessment Software Enhance the Acquisition of Financial Accounting Knowledge? Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Evans, E., Burritt, R. Bridging the Gap between Academic Accounting Research and Professional Practice. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from 53%20Bridging%20the%20Gap%20Publication%20(COMPLETE)_FA.pdf Feldmann, D. Advances in Accounting Education: Teaching And Curriculum Innovations. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Financial Accounting. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Financial Accounting Standards. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Gabbin, The Crisis In Accounting Education. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from .htm Hawkes, L. Management Accounting Education: Is There A Gap Between Academia And
  8. 8. BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN ACCOUNTING EDUCATION AND PROFISIONAL PRACTICES Practioner Perceptions? Retrieved October 21, 2012, from International Convergence of Accounting Standards—A Brief History. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from 663 Journal of Accounting Eductaion. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Owen, D. CSR after Enron: A Role of the Academic Accounting Profession? Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Siegel, G. The Ongoing Preparation Gap In Accounting Education: A Call to Action. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Zaid, A. Communication Skills In Accounting Education: Perceptions of Academics, Employers and Graduate Accountants. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from Zeff, S. How the U.S. Accounting Profession Got Where It Is Today: Part II. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from