IFAC Publishes New Paper on Ethics Education

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“The paper is the result of a wide-ranging research project into ethics education in the worldwide accountancy profession. It is designed to stimulate discussion and debate on the subject of ethics education,” states International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB) Chairman Henry Saville. “The paper, and the findings of the independent research team, will be of interest and benefit to IFAC member bodies, regional accountancy organizations, accounting educators, and others seeking to implement ethics education programs for professional accountants.”

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Approaches to the Development and Maintenance of Professional Values, Ethics and Attitudes in Accounting Education Programs is a new information paper that will serve as the basis for the development of an International Education Practice Statement (IEPS) 4.1 Approaches to Developing and Maintaining Professional Values, Ethics and Attitudes, which is scheduled for publication during 2007, that will assist and support the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) member bodies in carrying out their responsibilities to ensure that candidates for membership in an IFAC member body are equipped with the appropriate professional values, ethics and attitudes to function as professional accountants, as required by International Education Standard 4. The paper can be downloaded for free, although registration is required, at www.ifac.org/store/Details.tmpl?SID=1155152665859443.

The 187-page paper includes chapters on the role and issues of ethics education; an inventory and analysis of current and good practice; institutional strategies; resources and databases; and a flexible framework for learning ethics, values and attitudes, among others.

Between June 2004 and September 2005, a team of researchers, led by Professor Philomena Leung from Deakin University, Australia, conducted an extensive literature review, two online surveys of IFAC member bodies and other stakeholders in ethics education, and interviews and focus group discussion with 113 individuals internationally to form the basis of their research findings.

Based on their findings, researchers propose the adoption of flexible Ethics Education Framework designed to assist current and prospective IFAC member bodies with developing and maintaining programs of education and development on professional values, ethics and attitudes at both the pre- and post-qualifying stages. The Framework emphasizes the development of ethics knowledge and ethical sensitivity at an early stage in prequalification education, before enabling students and professional accountants to demonstrate their ethical judgment and decision-making skills. It also reinforces the need for accountants to make an ongoing commitment to ethical behavior.

In addition to this Information Paper, the research team also produced a draft, International Education Practice Statement and a Ethics Education Toolkit CD Rom including sample course outlines, teaching notes, case studies, video clips of ethical dilemmas, and a database of ethics education resource materials to assist member bodies and others in the development of ethics education programs, scheduled to become available in September 2006.

While the IAESB has approved the publication of the research report as an information paper, it should be noted that this is an independent research report and does not necessarily represent the views of the IAESB or IFAC. For specific guidance endorsed by the IAESB on ethics education for professional accountants, member bodies and others are referred to IEPS 4.1, Approaches to Developing and Maintaining Professional Values, Ethics and Attitudes, which is scheduled for publication during 2007.

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