Zooming in on accountancy

MALAYSIA has set its sights on becoming a hub for accountancy studies following the Higher Education Ministry’s commitment and interest to work with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Malaysia, to attract more international students.

Deputy higher education minister Dr Hou Kok Chung who recently spoke at the national education forum held by the ACCA, said that the Ministry was keen to work not only with the association, but with the private sector and other relevant organisations to ensure that those seeking internationally-certified programmes and qualifications pertaining to accountancy, would make Malaysia their first choice.

It is a “national objective” that we hope top achieve.

The forum with the theme “The way forward: Developing Malaysia as an accountancy education hub”, brought together academics and professionals to discuss issues, challenges and opportunities on developing Malaysia as the centre in the accounting field.

Participants taking down notes at the forum.

ACCA Malaysia country head Jennifer Lopez said that there are currently 19 institutions in Malaysia approved under the ACCA, and only those which have gone through a quality check and up to global standards, would be approved.

“We are very serious about making sure approved institutions are of a high standard globally … it is not enough to gauge the quality of education by local standards only.”

She said that if the country was serious about wanting international recognition, then it must be ready to compete in a level playing field.

Dr Hou said that as Malaysia strived to move up the value chain, “grooming world-class human capital such as financial professionals through talent development programmes will be vital, not only for our international image but also puts us a notch up in competitiveness.”

Great opportunities

Universiti Malaya Business and Accountancy Faculty deputy dean (Research and Development) Dr Edward Wong, who attended the forum said: “ACCA has provided many great opportunities for our students, particularly in terms of industry collaboration.”

Dr Hou says the ministry is keen to work with the private sector in promoting Malaysia as the ‘first choice’ for accountancy studies.

He said that it was always good to collaborate with relevant industries to upgrade themselves with the latest developments.

Another participant, Multimedia University lecturer Samuel Jebaraj Benjamin said that he enjoyed sharing his views and listening to the opinions of others.

“I also came to hear what the the experts had to say with the many challenges ahead.”

Benjamin added that he hoped the government would participate more actively in making Malaysia become an education hub for especially in the field of accountancy.

The day-long forum addressed several issues, such as the safety and security of foreign students living in Malaysia and whether they should be allowed to stay back for work experience after they graduate.

There was also room for discussion on teaching methods at another session themed “Developing Professional Accountants: Bridging the gaps between academia and business”.

Sunway University College executive director Elizabeth Lee, who was one of the panelists said that “the method of teaching in Malaysia has to change”.

“With so much to study from the textbook, we are spoon-feeding our students, but are we infusing thinking in our teaching? Where is their room for thinking?”

The right focus

She said that it was important for students to be involved in the community, regardless of the courses they were taking, as this would help in their character- building, which was important when students started working.

ACCA Asia Pacific Education head Rhys Johnson, who was among the speakers present, spoke on “the role and value of accounting technicians in developing the accountancy profession worldwide”.

Lopez says that ACCA Malaysia wants to ensure that all approved institutions are of a high standard globally.

Rhys said that employers should focus on the skills of their potential employees and what they can do, rather than focusing on their academic backgrounds.

“It is good to get graduates from varied backgrounds, because you tend to get different viewpoints which is good for the company.”

However, he did not dismiss the importance of examinations.

“Exams are a benchmark to show that they have the required academic knowledge.”

With so many possible routes into the accountancy field, and input from academics and professionals alike, the forum ended on the right note with ACCA Malaysia pledging to work closely with institutions of higher learning.

“We really want to work with public and private education institutions to provide exemptions for students, and try to align the syllabus to make sure they get the most out of their course, so a forum like this definitely helps, in terms of looking at what each of us needs to work on,” said Lopez.

She added that graduates were the ambassadors of an institution, and the quality of its graduates would in effect reflect the standing and credibility of the institution.

by Alycia Lim.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2010/2/21/education/5560963&sec=education

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