KPMG and AAA survey professors on IFRS in accounting curricula

According to the results of a survey of accounting faculty conducted by the American Accounting Association (AAA) and KPMG LLP during July and August, only 22 percent of the 535 professors surveyed say they can incorporate international financial reporting standards (IFRS) into their curricula in the 2008-2009 academic year. Sixty-two percent said they have not taken any significant action steps toward building IFRS into their programs.

One-third of the respondents expect that the first class of accounting majors to graduate with a substantial amount of IFRS education will be the class of 2011. Twenty-four percent said it would be the class of 2012. Only 17 percent of 2010 graduates and 9 percent of the class of 2009 are expected to have any substantial knowledge of IFRS.

"This is a major undertaking for universities, and it is not surprising to find professors weighing their options," said Philip M.J. Reckers, Ph.D, Vice President, AAA Professional Advisory Board and professor of accounting at Arizona State University. Reckers believes that professors will focus on intermediate and advanced accounting courses to make sure that upperclassmen have some knowledge of IFRS before they graduate.

One barrier to incorporating IFRS into the curriculum, the professors said, is that they do not expect textbooks to be ready until the 2010-2011 academic year. Another major obstacle is that the administrators responsible for allocating resources generally do not understand the magnitude of the change. Only 23 percent of those surveyed said that administrators understood the change.

Professors themselves will have to prepare administrators, says Manny Fernandez, KPMG's national managing partner – university relations and recruiting. "It is imperative that professors take the time to educate administrators on the overall impact of IFRS in business and present a needs assessment for their department and curricula." Fernandez sees schools that are "early movers" in incorporating IFRS into their curricula as being "more successful in building their brands in recruiting students."

Seventy nine percent of the professors said that a key challenge will be developing curriculum materials. Making room in the curriculum was seen by 72 percent as major challenge.

Other findings included:

  • In terms of what materials would be needed to support teaching IFRS, 89 percent noted textbooks as the highest priority, followed by case studies at 76 percent.
  • As to when they felt the CPA exam would include a comprehensive coverage of IFRS, 34 percent indicated 2011 followed by 29 percent who said 2012. ).

Among the approaches to teaching IFRS selected by faculty were:

  • Comparing and contrasting IFRS and U.S. GAAP standards; (56 percent)
  • Comparing and contrasting IFRS and U.S. GAAP foundational concepts; (37 percent)
  • Teaching IFRS standards and conceptual framework only (26 percent)
  • Undecided (33 percent).

Half of those surveyed said that faculty will be expected to prepare themselves to teach IFRS; only 16 percent said that their schools will provide funding for training sessions and/or to acquire study materials.

(In selecting responses professor could select all choices that apply.)

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