NASBA Education Committee Chair Raymond Johnson challenged a panel of educators to predict if the learning outcomes that the profession says are needed for those entering accounting can be achieved by the existing system. American Accounting Association President Marc Rubin responded, “Skills-based education is the way to go. I am trying to get students to think about how a new standard will impact other things… We will need to think about new models of education.” A member of the Annual Meeting audience then asked: ”Would regulators have to push the change?” To which Professor Rubin answered: “You have to change state law, to get everyone on the same page. The AAA has ‘big idea’ conferences on accreditation and they had a boot camp to enhance faculties’ technology skills. But it is expensive to keep updating technology.”

Anne Marie Vitale, deputy chair of the International Accounting Education Standards Board, agreed that there is a need to re-evaluate old models, but it is important to have classroom education, even if it is done remotely. Critical skills could be taught in a different way. “We still need accountants to know what is accounting, “ but she added there are other areas, such as due care, that could be better integrated into training.

“Things like credit for experience or internships are difficult to measure, but they can be put on the transcript if the accreditors have rigorous standards for that,” Phyllis Okrepkie, president of IACBE, added. “Students have to achieve goals in a reasonable amount of time and need to be able to blend in experience.”

The educators were asked at what point critical thinking should be built into the academic curriculum or if that remains for the firms to do in their training.

Dr. Rubin recommended it be done at both levels and that the “first year integrated core” aims to bring in critical thinking. Ms. Vitale believes student have a responsibility: “To be intellectually curious has been pushed while they are getting their accounting degree.”

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