More About the Decline in Accounting Majors

BY DELMER P. HYLTON

The Crisis in Accounting Education” relies heavily on a monograph, Accounting Education: Charting the Course through a Perilous Future, to support its claim of a crisis in the profession. The monograph noted a decline in the number of students who are enrolled as accounting majors in colleges and universities. This is evidence that accounting education is “broken.” Well, maybe.

However, I know of no accountancy professor who does not endorse computer literacy as a necessary requirement for a graduating accountancy major.

Other factors may be affecting accountancy enrollments. How many CPAs does this country need? The alleged low starting salary for students of accountancy may be the result of the laws of supply and demand. This is not necessarily evidence of inadequate education.

Another likely and more serious reason for the decline in the number of accounting majors is the demise of the accounting profession. Note that financial journals and newspapers now refer to us as the “accounting industry” or the “accounting business” and with good reason. What once was accepted as required professional conduct now is considered a liability. Service to the public, always a benchmark of a profession, seems no longer our primary purpose. Given the current status of CPA practice, is it surprising that students wishing to enter a profession may choose to look elsewhere?

Ironically, the Enron debacle may resurrect the accounting profession, although at this time that is far from certain.

Delmer P. Hylton, CPA
Emeritus Professor of Accountancy
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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