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ICAI - Report of the Round Table Conference on Commerce and Accountancy
October, 18th 2010

Report of the Round Table Conference on Commerce and Accountancy Education System in India: Issues and Challenges held on 26th September, 2010 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

Date: 26-09-2010


The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India organized first ever Round Table Conference on the theme of Commerce and Accountancy Education System in India: Issues and Challenges on 26th September, 2010 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The Conference provided a forum for exchange of thoughts and interaction on various areas of academic and practical interest such as the need for relevant course curriculum, method of imparting education and examination reforms amongst leading academicians in the field of Commerce and Accountancy Education in India and the professional Chartered Accountants.

The Conference was attended by seven Vice-Chancellors, namely Prof. I.V. Trivedi, Mohanlal Sukhadia University; Prof. Manoj K. Mishra, University of Lucknow; Prof. K.K. Deka, Dibrugarh University; Prof. A.D. Sawant, University of Rajasthan; Prof. R. Venkata Rao, National Law School Bangalore; Prof. Binayak Rath, Utkal University; and Prof. J.L. Gupta, Former Vice-Chancellor, Bilaspur University. Prominent Management Institutions were represented by IIMs (Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Kozhikode), MDI, Gurgaon, and National Institute of Financial Management. Universities were represented by Head and Deans of the Commerce and Management Department included, Punjab University, University of Allahabad, Jammu University, University of Rajasthan, Sardar Patel University, Bharathiar University, Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur, Gulbarga University, N.E. Hill University, Andhra University, Kakatiya University, Manipur University, University of Madras, Jamai Millia Islamia,Delhi University, University of Calcutta, University of Calicut, Sambalpur University, Osmania University, University of Kerala, Pondicherry University Kannur University, Karnatak University, Guru Nanak Dev University, Himachal Pradesh University, Udaipur University, University of Burdwan, M.S. University of Baroda and Utkal University. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India was represented by CA. Amarjit Chopra, President, CA. Vinod Jain, Chairman, Board of Studies, CA. Jaydeep N. Shah, CA. Bhavna Doshi, CA. Rajkumar S. Adukia and CA. S.B. Zaware. The Technical and Academic staff of the Institute also participated in the conference.

The main objective of the Conference was to assess the current state of the commerce and accountancy education in India, to consider the changing environment particularly in view of the introduction of the IFRS, Goods and Services Tax, etc., and integrate the same in the course curriculum so as to produce competent accounting manpower relevant for the Indian business and society. The aim was also to build synergy between the University education and the professional accountancy education system so as to utilise the strength of each institution to impart relevant commerce and accountancy education in the country.

The Round Table Conference was inaugurated by Shri Jitesh Khosla, Additional Secretary and Officer on Special Duty Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs. In his address, Shri Khosla emphasized that the huge size of the Indian economy which is expected to touch 2 Trillion dollars by 2015 shall require competent accountants to sustain development at this scale. He was of the view that in the todays world, financial literacy and the basic knowledge of the accountancy is sine qua non for every body. Accordingly, it is imperative that the Institute must take certain steps to develop some On-line Certificate Courses in accountancy to spread the accountancy education. He was also of the view that the Institute must come forward and impart training to various teachers in the universities particularly in the areas of Accounting Standards, IFRS, Auditing, Taxation, Ethics, etc.
CA. Amarjit Chopra, President of the Institute, who conceptualized the first ever such Conference, emphasized the need for both backward integration as well as the forward integration of the commerce and accountancy system of education in India. Regarding backward integration, he was of the view that Universities must impart education in the subjects comprising which are relevant and useful for the country as a whole and which also forms the basis for the students to pursue professional accountancy course at a later stage. In respect of forward integration, the necessary steps needs to be taken so that significant areas like IFRS, GST etc., managerial implications for formulating Risk Management Strategies, can form part of university curriculum at the appropriate level including research in accounting. In order to produce good professional accountants, it is also necessary that examination system must be robust and transparent. Accordingly, there is a strong need of good academicians and technical persons who can act as resource persons for evaluating the competence of potential candidates.

The Round Table primarily focused on Panel Discussion on different topics namely, (i) Curriculum Design and Development Future Challenges; (ii) Methodology of Imparting Theoretical Education : Distance Learning Vs Face to Face; and (iii) Examination Reforms: Assessment of Professional Competence.
In the panel discussion, the main panelists were, CA. Amarjit Chopra, President, ICAI, CA. Vinod Jain, Chairman, Board of Studies, CA. Rajkumar S. Adukia, CA. J. N. Shah, CA. Bhavna Doshi, CA. S.B. Zaware, all Members of the Central Council, Professor Binayak Rath, Vice-chancellor, Utkal University, Professor J. L. Gupta, MDI, Professor S.A. Ansari, Dean, Faculty of Commerce, University of Allahabad, Dr. Pravin Kumar Rathod, Head and Professor, Dept. of Business Studies, Sardar Patel University, Professor Vijay K. Shrotryia, Head of Commerce, N.E. Hill University Dr. N. Tejmani Singh, Head, Dept. of Commerce, Manipur University Dr. Asish K. Bhattacharya, Professor, IIM, Kolkata, and Shri Vijay Kapur, Director, Board of Studies.
Apart from panel discussion, there were two Technical Sessions. In the First Technical Session a comprehensive presentation on the Indian Accountancy Profession was given by Shri Vijay Kapur, Director, Board of Studies wherein the important features of the existing state of accountancy profession in India as also significant issues were highlighted. The Second Technical Session on Integrating Accounting and Auditing Standards in the Curriculum of Commerce Education in Indian University System was addressed by Dr. Avinash Chander, Technical Director and Dr. Asish K. Bhattacharyya, Professor, IIM, Kolkata. It was highlighted in the session that the students pursuing commerce courses in the country need to be made aware of different accounting standards applicable to various entities in India. Further, it was stated that the understanding of the Accounting Standards is also imminent for students of finance and other disciplines to understand the necessary implications of Accounting Standards for formulating risk management strategies.

Some of the major highlights of the Round Table Conference are as under:
  • It was felt by all participants that there is no quality education literature available particularly in the field of Accounting Standards and IFRS. All the participants stressed that the ICAI must take a lead and bring out the uniform material which is comprehensive including simple illustrations so that the same can be adopted by the various universities in imparting the education at the Under Graduate Level. The Institute may formulate a Model Course Curriculum for adoption by the Universities to the extent possible in their course curriculum subject to the requirements of University Grants Commission. There is also lot of scope where the Institute and Universities can derive the benefit by undertaking empirical research in the field of accounting and finance.
  • The Institute must take up the capacity building programme of training the various Universities Teachers imparting commerce and accountancy education. Vice-Chancellor, Lucknow University, Professor Manoj Mishra stated that the Finances of the State Universities are in complete mess and he urged upon the Institute to undertake special training programmes for all Finance Officers of different State Universities.
  • Vice-chancellor, Professor Sawant of Udaipur University highlighted the need of quality teachers in accounting and taxation area. According to him, in view of the current norms of the UGC, Chartered Accountants cannot be appointed as regular teachers. He felt that in order to take benefit of professional background of chartered accountants, it is necessary that these norms should not be made applicable to Chartered Accountants.
  • Prof. Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School, Bangalore drew the attention of participants to the proposal of the Ministry to consolidate higher education in India by constituting a unified body at the apex level. He informed that five Bills are pending to this effect.
  • Having regard to lot of synergy between the ICAI and Universities, it was decided that the Universities can offer space for conducting examination and building up reference libraries for students pursuing Chartered Accountancy Course. The need for imparting relevant practical knowledge in IT field was also highlighted. Representatives from the Universities felt that the Institute should impart education in practical accounting areas through its ITT Centres to students of Universities so as to enhance their job prospects in the market.
  • Imparting education through e-learning and other electronic modes be extended to University students by the Institute. By leveraging technology, best of the experts in the field can conduct classes on accounting, auditing, taxation etc. for the benefit of large number of students having regard to widespread dispersal of students in the country. It was felt that the Institute may invest in technology and build up e-learning centers for conducting virtual class at the University.
  • In respect of examination reforms, it was stressed that a question paper should have mix of question involving objective type questions, questions having short answers, Case Studies etc. Examination Division need to be equipped with technical people so as to ensure that the question papers and nature thereof pass through a rigorous test to achieve the main objective with which they have been set. There has to be a transparent system of evaluation whereby the variation in the marking in different examiners be moderated so as to bring more consistency and a photocopy of the answer script be made available to the candidate. Further, it was also suggested that once the photo copy of the answer script is given to a candidate for a fees. The comments of the students on each answer may be examined by the Committee so as to decide whether revaluation is necessary or not. Orientation programmes for examiners must be held on regular basis so as to reduce variation of marking within the stated norms.
  • Prof. Binayak Rath, Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University, made a very comprehensive presentation on examination reforms and insisted that the evaluation system should be completely transparent and consistency in evaluation should be ensured at all levels.
  • The duration of the course of GMCS may be reviewed keeping in view the needs of the students. Some participants felt that subject from social discipline like Philosophy, Economics and behavioral science need to be built within this course so as to expand the horizon of potential chartered accountants.

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