The future of accounting and finance programmes

‘Our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative,
timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, tedious company and
having no sense of humour. And where in most professions these would be
considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy they are a positive boon.’

Accountants and financial experts are far from being dull ‘bean-counters’ or
‘spineless corporate police’ described by the infamous Monty Python sketch
quoted above. Rather, today’s accounting and finance experts are frequently at
the forefront of businesses – shaping strategy and implementing change.

Far from being a route to dull and boring careers, a university education in
accounting and/or finance opens up a variety of exciting and rewarding business
management opportunities. Graduates can become business analysts, City analysts
and investors, management consultants or entrepreneurs.

Universities such as our own aim to nurture not only tomorrow’s accounting
and finance experts, but also tomorrow’s all-round (financially-astute) business
managers for their vocational challenges ahead.

Importantly, this requires that today’s degree programmes must provide
tomorrow’s employees with a critical mind and the confidence and ability in
‘soft skills’, as well as the technical aptitude that has dominated accounting
and finance degrees.

Integrating case studies, group assignments and presentations into our
programmes and curricula is useful for achieving these objectives and, in turn,
so is the quality of research undertaken by our academic scholars.

Good graduates will emerge from their studies with a critical understanding
of the role of accounting and finance practices from the perspective of ethics
and global sustainability. Others will have explored how accounting is
intertwined with political and cultural tensions as organisations attempt to
implement new business structures and practices. Some will have explored which
elements of western markets might be suitable for adoption and promotion in
developing and emerging economies.

The future development of accounting and finance programmes in academic
institutions is challenging – but it is also bright, driven by curiosity and
innovation and potentially rewarding for its participants.

Professor John Burns is dean of the School of Accounting
and Finance at Dundee University

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