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Education boost from CPA Australia accreditation

For immediate release

28 June 2006

Education boost from CPA Australia accreditation at AUT, Canterbury and Victoria universities

New Zealand's $2 billion export education industry is set to benefit from CPA Australia's accreditation of commerce degrees at Auckland University of Technology, Canterbury University and the Victoria University of Wellington.

The move brings to seven the number of New Zealand universities whose degrees are recognised by the world's sixth largest professional accounting body, the others being Auckland, Massey, Waikato and Otago universities.

CPA Australia accreditation is seen as being of particular value to students from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and the US now studying in New Zealand, providing them with an internationally recognised qualification which improves their career prospects in an increasingly global field.

Head of the department of accounting, finance and information systems at Canterbury, Dr Yvonne Shanahan, believes CPA Australia accreditation is important because students will be attracted by the international portability and recognition of their qualification.

"It also strengthens our international links with the accountancy profession, which is very important to us as a university and to the country as a whole.

"Many of our overseas students come from China and elsewhere in Asia, and graduates typically begin their careers with one of the big four accountancy firms. It's indisputably an international arena, and CPA accreditation of New Zealand university courses strengthens the country's position not only in terms of being recognised as a centre of excellence for study, but also as a career destination."

The process of accreditation is rigorous, reflecting increasingly demanding industry standards and growing international regulatory harmonisation. To qualify a university has to meet exacting standards of teaching, research and resourcing.

CPA Australia's New Zealand director, Samantha Benecke was impressed by the university's standard of campus facilities, including lecture rooms, staff accommodation, library sources, computer facilities and qualifications, and with the seniority and research profile of teaching staff.

Victoria university's director of the centre for accounting, governance and taxation research, Professor Keitha Dunstan, believes the increased interest that CPA accreditation will generate among students will go some way to addressing New Zealand's skills shortage in the key area of finance graduates.

"There are not enough graduates in financial disciplines, so anything which addresses that is welcome news for the country.

"As an institute we keep in close contact with employers around the world to ensure our graduates have the skills and breadth of vision this constantly evolving industry requires."

Mike French, head of department for law, economics, accounting and finance in the business faculty at AUT believes the move will broaden graduates' options.

"Our graduates are in demand and take up careers in a range of fields from public practice to industry to more specifically focused finance areas. We see CPA accreditation as further enhancing their academic profiles and capabilities."

But there are those who argue that CPA Australia accreditation will add to the brain drain from New Zealand as graduates exploit the international recognition and portability of the qualification.

Samantha Benecke responds that finance professionals will always travel in search of satisfying employment and that this presents a challenge as well as an opportunity to New Zealand employers.

"Although the CPA qualification will help kiwis take on the world, it is also highly relevant to those wanting to stay in New Zealand. Employers will also have a better chance of attracting and retaining quality staff at home if they offer a choice in professional program and qualifications they support."

CPA Australia has more than 108,000 members, including 20,000 CEOs, CFOs and General Managers, and has offices in 12 countries.

CPA Australia members can sit post-graduate exams in more than 240 locations worldwide and can continue their study on new job postings in any location. The CPA Program, which is geared to deliver high quality, well-rounded business professionals, is the largest flexible learning program in the southern hemisphere.


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