I enjoyed a lovely evening last night as part of a new Advisory Board to De Paul University’s School of Computer Science, Telecommunications and Information Systems (CTI) . We are advising on curriculum development and outreach for their undergraduate degree in Information Assurance and Security Engineering and their Master of Science in Computer, Information and Network Security. CTI at Depaul offers the largest IT program in the country, with 16 graduate degrees, including eight online degrees.
What’s an accountant doing in such a group? Well as Vice President of our Chicago ISACA Chapter, I get lots of invitations, but the opportunity to get involved in influencing young minds was irresistible. Cue the violins. Actually, I have to work hard to maintain and further develop the technology part of my portfolio. Managing the Year 2000 initiative at JP Morgan in Latin America and implementing ERPs with Bearing Point is part of my resume but not the most current. Technology is the Achilles heel of companies trying to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and have good, efficient, accountable operations. I need to make sure my knowledge is always current.
Over a great dinner at Greek Islands, courtesy of the school, we discussed how to meet students needs with these programs. There was an equal amount of discussion about making sure employers’ expectations for the graduates are met. In other words, how do we make sure the product meets quality standards in order to compete with all the other higher education producers out there? Every school wants to see their students placed and placed well. At least, that should be an important goal, not just taking their tuition and abandoning them at graduation.
One of the suggestions I made was regarding the lack of business courses required for the degree. A recipient of a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Assurance and Security Engineering is only required to take one accounting course. Not enough coverage, in my opinion, given the fact that many of these graduates will be assuring Sarbanes-Oxley compliance for their organizations by analyzing IT General Controls, infrastructure integrity, applications controls, segregation of duties controls within applications and security controls for their company’s ERP and financial reporting security packages. In my experience, accountants have more interest and aptitude in picking up technology concepts than technology professionals have in learning accounting concepts on the job…
But it’s a balance. I made some points about the need for an undergraduate to become educated during their undergraduate years, not just ready for a specific job. They should study abroad, take an art history or Great Books class, read some books besides those required for their classes. I saw too many accounting interns at PwC that had spent the last 3-4 years with their heads down trying to get a perfect grade point average so they could get the internship and eventually the job in the Big 4. In the rush to start their professional life they had been unable to live life a little or to get an education. Granted, the demand of the degree programs and the CPA or CA exams now make it difficult for students to take many courses outside of their major or to take a chance on something different when they can’t afford to have their grade point average suffer. The firms only select students with at least a 3.3 to 3.5 out of 4.0 GPA. You are out of luck if you don’t have an A- average.
So, given the already close interaction between schools and employers, I should not have been shocked to read this first thing this morning. Do we have a program like this in the US yet?
The latest students from the UK’s first degree to include work as a chartered accountant have landed themselves high-flying careers.
It is graduation time at the BA (Honours) Business Accounting and Finance (known as the Flying Start Degree programme), offered jointly by Newcastle University, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
This year saw the second cohort of students graduate, and almost all of the graduates now have careers with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, either in the Newcastle office or in other offices around the UK. The students can expect to qualify as chartered accountants in the next 12 months.