Mind the gap: academic study to professional practice

Mary Dale, Dawn Cable, Ron Day

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


In the period since the introduction of immigration selection reforms in 1998, accounting has been a popular course of study for international students wanting to study in Australia. The principal driver of this has been the severe shortage of accountants in Australia and the resultant listing of Accounting as an in-demand profession within the skilled migration program. Demand for accounting places has also accelerated due to extensive marketing by Australian universities, particularly in the China and Indian market. Despite the large number of international students enrolling in accounting programs the shortage seems not to have been reduced. One possible explanation may be the high proportion of non-English-speaking background candidates. According to a report by Birrell and Rapson (2005) “accountants from non-English-speaking backgrounds have ....struggled to secure professional level work in accounting.” As managers of the largest postgraduate accounting program in Australia over a period of 10 years, we perceived from our experience with our students, and with contacts with employment agents and our part-time lecturing staff involved in accounting practices, that a training gap existed since technically competent Australian trained international graduates of accounting were unable to secure employment. We argue that this gap can largely be attributed to graduates’ lack of communication and professional skills. CPA Australia has recently identified this as an issue and is involved in a pilot study to provide resources to graduates to improve these skills. The ICAA is also promoting workshops to support their CA graduates improve their skills. This presentation describes a program of study, the Masters in Accounting (CPA Extension) at Macquarie University, that seeks to “help secure students’ futures” by bridging the gap between academic study in accounting and a career in professional practice. The program provides students with an additional two semesters of full-time study after completion of a minimum of 4 trimesters in a graduate conversion course in accounting. During the additional two semesters students enroll in full time study at Macquarie while also enrolled in the CPA program to work toward furthering their professional qualification and recognition. This full time program not only provides opportunities to extend and expand students’ technical skills and understanding, but more importantly it enables the continued development of communication and professional skills that were commenced in the conversion course. In this way the program provides further opportunity to prepare better work-ready graduates that will assist in meeting the needs of employers and help reduce the skill shortage in the Australian accounting profession.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian international education conference 2006 : proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventAustralian international education conference 2006 - Perth, W. A.
Duration: 10 Oct 200613 Oct 2006


  • accounting education


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