Accounting education in Malaysia traverses a wide landscape involving the participation of public and private entities. But sadly, for a long time now, there has not been an umbrella body to bring together all the players unlike that for professional accountants.
Over the last decade, the education scenario has seen a proliferation of many players especially at the tertiary level. While this signifies a development in one sense, in another, it spells further individualism among accounting academics. There did not seem to exist any concerted effort among accounting educators towards working together specifically to take a leading role in steering the direction of the country's accounting education. Much has been left to the decision of the professional and regulatory bodies. While some academic institutions and individuals have successfully become active players through participation in these bodies' activities, others, for instance accounting educators at the school level, have not been privileged enough.
This shortcoming attests that accounting educators at all levels seriously need to establish an association to look after their interest with respect to the professional enhancement and linkage between academia and practice. Accounting academia cannot affort to be non-committal and indifferent towards developments in the business and accounting world. They must take responsibility and accountability for the advancement of accounting education so that academia can also become a significant contributor to the nation's progress. Given that accounting is a professional discipline that is closely related to the business environment which, over time, has seen tremendous changes, maintaining a silo approach would not accord well to the intention.
Accounting curriculum for instance, whether at the school, undergraduate or postgraduate level, needs to be relevant. This is because accounting education providers function as the feeder for the accounting profession and its related job market. Only a close association between educators and the professional counterparts could bridge the gap between classroom teaching and learning, and practice.
Likewise, research and development (R&D) in accounting also plays a profound role in the advancement of the accounting discipline. Yet, this is an area that still starves for considerable attention so that the potential for R&D to contribute to the development of accounting could really be realised. Given the interconnectedness and interdependencies between education and practice, R&D activities should not only become the domain of the education providers. Accounting research areas too must be balanced between the needs of industry and academia.
The corporate world has experienced fraternity thus, must begin to consciously ask what measures that could be undertaken to ensure that such happenings do not exacerbate. Pertinent to the whole issue is to go back to fundamentals and pierce the veil of why human behaves in such a manner. Will the imposition of more rules and regulations really curb further corporate misdeeds? Or, do we need to evaluate the manner in which accountants are educated and trained in order to address the issue from its root? Or perhaps we need a combination of approaches?
With all these unethical development, there surely is a role that accounting education can play. The reality of the business world is too glaring for accounting educators to take a back seat and merely become spectators. In this knowledge-based economy which is propelled by information, imparting the right information and knowledge becomes vital. As the domain of the accounting profession grows in tandem with the complexities of the economy, accountants and business leaders are faced with many dilemmas in making decions. Herein lies the role of values within oneselfs, for more often than not the dichotomy between corporate and public interest or even between personal and organisational goals appears.
Hence, the approach to education has to be reviewed to ensure that appropriate knowledge, skills and values are disseminated. But first, accounting educators themselves need to understand their role and be aptly equipped with the relevant competencies while keeping close links with industry and regulatory bodies. The necessity to become a major contributor to the enhancement of professionalism in meeting the challenges of the new world that the MyAA is established.