I’m busy with grading, so this is very brief. Over at AECM a discussion has been held about issues related to providing an accounting education within a context of a 150 semester hour requirement. I think re: The Auditors put something up on it a while back.
A lot has been written about the not-so-hidden agendas of corporate management, auditing firms, politicians and the SEC. Everyone is out to maximize their personal position, and no one is looking out for the public good. Certainly not execs (earnings manipulation, greedy bonuses), nor the Big 4 (IFRS adoption, exoribant fees for shoddy auditing), Obama (bargaining away GAAP for political gain), SEC ( favoring big business and polital agendas).
Now, it is extremely obvious that our accounting programs are birds of a feather! Many programs have shifted undergraduate accounting courses to the graduate level, and now charge an extra 50-100% premium for the same courses! And, with graduate admissions requirements serving as a barrier to entry, not all accounting students have equal access to essential accounting courses.
Why have our collegiate accounting programs done this? They’re money grubbing for extra tuition. Oh, justification is attempted by saying that the masters credential is important, that higher level thinking is provided in graduate curses, that there is value added in general.
Folks, I’ve been there and much of the time all these reasons amount only to so much BS. OK, there are some (a few) wonderful masters programs in accounting. There are many, though, that don’t provide sufficient value for the extra bucks being charged. I’m sure this comment is gong to make me very unpopular with my colleagues.
Today’s college students are being financially stressed in many, many ways. State governments have drastically cut financial support to their public colleges, so tuition as increased at incredible rates to a level where students have to mortgage their future. Based on 2008 data, about 70% of bachelors graduates in the U.S. are in debt, and the average debt load is approaching $30,000. Given that accounting students are frequently first generation (families have less resources), then I’m guessing that the figures for accounting students are worse than for the typical American college student. The current financial crisis it making these trends and problems worse.
For a while, graduate accounting programs had a lot of assistantship and scholarship money available. Increasingly, though, graduate students in accounting are being forced to pay their own way. Do we really want our accounting students to be graduating with $40,000 to $50,000 of student debt?
It is no secret that firms put a salary squeeze on rookie hires. There is only a small premium for a masters degree, as opposed to a bachelor’s degree with 150 hours.
Some of our rookie accounting hires are impoverished, with gut-wrenching financial concerns. It is natural to expect that personal worries (over such concerns) will negatively affect job performance. More than that, financial worries could eventually lead to these young accountants succumbing to temptations leading to funsavory/unethical business behavior and/or fraud.
I think it’s time we put accounting programs under the microscope. If your school is designing a fifth-year curriculum, then grill them. Make them prove there is value added to a special fifth year program. If not, then students should be demanding a full slate of accounting courses available to them at the undergraduate level, with no arbitrary degree classifications. We need to make things affordable.
Boy am I in trouble for writing this.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht