International initiative gives FIU Accounting students a leg up.

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This fall, accounting students at Florida International University will have an advantage available at only three other U.S. universities: Upon graduation, they will automatically be deemed to have fulfilled eight sections of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants exam, a designation similar to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination.

“It gives our students a huge advantage,” said Ruth Ann McEwen, director of the School of Accounting at the College of Business and senior associate dean of the college. “Anyone who might have an international career should be interested in joining this organization (ACCA).”

For FIU, the collaboration also becomes a way of attracting more top-notch international students to Miami. As part of the agreement, designed to initially last two years, ACCA will market FIU worldwide, feature it in the group’s magazine and shoot a video about FIU when it visits in October.

McEwen said the ACCA looked at FIU’s curriculum and exams across the MACC program. On the strength of those, the group decided to waive eight out of 14 exam sections for those successfully completing the program, and seeking certification by the highly respected international group.

Encouraging students to prepare for the CPA examination while in school has been a priority for McEwen since she became school director. Current FIU classes are geared to help students achieve that goal. She wants to build on that focus by helping students get ready to take the other six ACCA exams. McEwen believes that certification is essential for professional success.

The ACCA has more than 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, and wants to expand its U.S. presence. The other schools ACCA chose to participate in the pilot program are Pace University, American University and St. John’s University.

Just as the CPA is built around generally accepted accounting standards, the ACCA focuses on international financial reporting standards. These, explained McEwen, have a somewhat different emphasis and focus compared to the U.S. standards; however, they are no less rigorous.

Faculty member prepares the way.

The opportunity to become part of ACCA came about because Kenneth R. Henry, associate professor in the School of Accounting, serves on its board of directors. He brought McEwen together with Warner Johnston, Head of ACCA USA, who subsequently visited the FIU campus. Representatives from the organization plan a return trip in October to give a presentation to students.

Ruth Ann Mc Ewen
RuthAnn McEwen

The collaboration means big advantages for both students and the School of Accounting, and supports the university’s international mission. McEwen explained that, as of yet, there is not one organization or exam that covers both U.S. and international norms. However, students who are both CPAs and ACCA certified come close. “Between the ACCA and CPA, they will have many more career opportunities to work outside of the United States,” she said.

FIU already teaches the basics of international accounting and how other countries approach accounting and finance, she said, so the new initiatives will build on a strong existing foundation.

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