This paper addresses the respective roles and responsibilities of universities and practitioners in educating professional accountants. The issues are explored by a review of the literature in accounting and other professions regarding the respective roles of universities and employers in the development of both technical and non-technical knowledge and skills of professionals, particularly accounting practitioners. The literature review suggests that critics of university-based education fail to recognise (a) the changes that have occurred in the roles and responsibilities of accounting practitioners, and (b) the opportunity costs necessarily associated with providing generalist accounting degrees. Universities and employers have comparative advantages for the development of different types of professional skills and knowledge. These insights are extended by way of a series of interviews with Australian accounting practitioners, representatives from professional accounting bodies, recent accounting graduates, and accounting students about their perceptions of the respective responsibilities and roles of universities and employers. Although some interviewees recognised that universities cannot be 'all things to all people', there was a tendency to expect universities to have the major responsibility for the development in accounting graduates of both technical and non-technical knowledge and skills. Such perceptions tended to understate the responsibilities and comparative advantage of employers and result in unrealistic expectations about the outcomes of a university education. Employers need to be made more aware of the resource and other limitations associated with university programs and should develop meaningful opportunities for learning and reflection within workplace contexts.
Howieson, B. A., Hancock, P., Segal, N., Kavanagh, M. H., Tempone, I., & Kent, J. (2014). Who should teach what? Australian perceptions of the roles of universities and practice in the education of professional accountants. Journal of Accounting Education, 32(3), 259-275. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaccedu.2014.05.001