Author: Patricia Hartman, NASBA Director of Examination Operations
The idea of giving the Uniform CPA Examination outside the United States has been around for some time, but it’s now becoming a reality.
That’s in large part due to a convergence of many factors. First, candidate volume from overseas continues to grow. Secondly, much of that volume is coming from specific parts of the world, so it has become easier to decide where viable testing sites could be located. And finally, NASBA has been able to complete the legal analysis necessary to see where international testing sites would be feasible.
With all that done, NASBA began accepting applications in May for international testing sites in Japan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). If these sites perform well, then new ones will be added where, and when, they can be properly supported.
That support is crucial to the success of these sites. The countries hosting these inaugural sites were chosen very carefully and received vigorous scrutiny on a wide range of issues. One of those concerned their privacy statutes regarding sending and receiving information. France, for example, has laws that would prohibit the transmission of candidate data to NASBA, so it couldn’t realistically host a testing site.
We have many goals for these sites. They will expose the CPA credential to the rest of the world, so that more people will understand what that is and also learn how to obtain it. As NASBA becomes increasingly involved in the global arena, it makes sense to take the exam international now.
NASBA’s long success with testing has also played a role in the decision to expand. While some parts of the world where we are going to be testing have experienced some political unrest, that won’t affect our operations. And, as for dealing with natural disasters, in the United States, we have coped with Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes and more over the years. We deal with unforeseen problems of all kinds somewhere during every testing window. We have operational procedures in place that prepare us for pretty much anything.
While the international test sites will allow many candidates the convenience of staying home, or at least staying closer to home, it is important to point out that they still have to meet specific eligibility requirements, as well as meet some additional benchmarks, prior to testing. Even though we are opening up to the world, the examination is still for a premier designation, and we take that very seriously.
On balance, we think that more people, including U.S. citizens overseas, will take the test now, and that is going to bring more qualified CPAs into the global workforce. That alone serves as a very positive and motivating factor for NASBA to take this major step.
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