The gap between the number of new accounting graduates and new Uniform CPA Examination candidates has existed for a long time, but that gap has widened, Dr. Yvonne L. Hinson, AICPA Academic-in-Residence, told the NASBA Annual Meeting. In 2018 there was a 10-year low in the number of those taking the Exam, with 76.542 new graduates and 36,827 new candidates. Referencing the 2019 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, a study done every year for the past 49 years by the AICPA, Dr. Hinson encouraged the NASBA audience to look at the overall trends in the reporting areas, rather than viewing the report as a statement of exact values. Next year will see the 50th report, and she suggested that it contain other information pertinent to what is happening, such as the increase in on-line course enrollment and the decrease in the number of applicants from China.

For 2018 compared to 2016, the enrollment in bachelor’s in accounting programs was 10 percent down, for master’s was down 6 percent, and for Ph.D. programs down 23 percent. Dr. Hinson pointed out the drop in doctoral program enrollment is particularly troubling as those are the future teachers of accounting. However, universities that have made heavier technology investments or have established closer ties with a firm are seeing increases in enrollments, she pointed out.

The researchers found students are going from accounting into finance, supply chain management, marketing and business analytics. Salaries and curriculum are what moves them and accountants have lower starting salaries. The supply of accounting graduates is outstripping demand right now, as firms are going to other sources to hire. CPA firm hiring remains stable, but more of those hires are coming from technology and are experienced, up from 20 percent non-accounting new hires in 2016 to 31 percent in 2018. In turn, more of the accounting students are interested in non-public accounting careers.

Dr. Hinson stressed the need for students to become aware of the CPA as a profession of choice: “The profession has changed and it is not the same profession that their parents or grandparents experienced.

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