Section 1: Principles underlying accreditation

Content Summary

Four pillars of excellence

  1. Professional accreditation is a partnership between higher education providers and the accounting profession. It's an integral part of a continuous quality improvement process and should be seen as dynamic rather than static
  2. Professional accreditation seeks to ensure graduates are suitable to join an entry-level role in an accounting field by reviewing the education content and process of their qualification
  3. The accounting profession needs graduates from diverse backgrounds with a range of competencies. It requires all graduates to have capacities for inquiry, abstract logical thinking and critical analysis, in addition to appropriate written and oral communication and interpersonal skills. The profession expects these capacities and skills to be gained and enhanced through accounting as well as general education
  4. Professional accreditation is based on demonstrated quality of the education experience. Higher education providers must establish the objectives to be achieved, the means to their achievement, evidence that the objectives have been achieved, and mechanisms for continuous review and improvement.


There are four objectives we aim to achieve via the professional accreditation of higher education accounting programs.

  1. Ensure the technical and professional competency areas of each program provides essential disciplinary depth for graduates to enter the respective professional programs offered by CPA Australia
  2. Ensure a quality assurance framework is in place for higher education providers who develop and deliver accounting programs
  3. Encourage innovation in teaching and learning with a focus on integrating the development of graduates' professional skills
  4. Advocacy to promote the sustainability of accounting education and its response to the evolving needs of the profession

1. Technical and professional competency areas

We'll conduct a "desktop" assessment of the technical and professional competency areas of new higher education accounting programs. This will determine coverage of the core competence areas required for entry to the CPA Program. This assessment will reference the:

This technical and professional competency areas assessment will be run in confidence by a CPA Australia representative with appropriate accounting academic qualifications. The outcome of this assessment will be included in the final accreditation approval recommendation made to CPA Australia's accreditation governance committee.

Compliance with IFAC

As members of IFAC, we're required to comply with a series of International Education Standards (IESs) released through the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB). IES 2 Initial Professional Development – Technical Competence specifically relates to the competence areas that must be covered in the pre-qualification education of professional accountants. While IES 3 Initial Professional Development – Professional Skills relates to the professional competence area. The 'pre-qualification education' includes accredited higher education degree programs and professional programs, namely the CPA Program.

Relevant IFAC documentation includes:

  • The International Educations Standards for Professional Accountants
    • All IES are available on the IFAC website. They "are intended to establish the essential elements on which education and training programs, both pre-qualification and post-qualification, for all accountants should be founded. Although they cannot override authoritative local pronouncements, they are essentially prescriptive in nature"
  • The Ethics Education Toolkit study guides and video program
    • These help educate and train professionals at all levels - who are studying at university or working in various areas of business. It can be used for sensitisation to ethics threats, including conflicts, self-interest and intimidation. Ethics threats may result in compromised ethical conduct

These documents are available on the IFAC website.

2. Quality assurance framework

We recognise the existing standard-based quality assurance framework within the higher education systems of overseas countries.

We'll only accept submissions for higher education programs that have been accredited as higher education programs, at least at bachelor's degree level, by the relevant accrediting body within that country. Higher education providers must also be registered as an approved provider with the relevant accrediting body. If the accreditation status of a program is unclear, we'll assess the qualification using Australian Education International's National Office for Overseas Skills Recognition (AEI-NOOSR) website.

We'll accept information available through the relevant accrediting body and other agencies' reports, and acknowledge the diligence undertaken by bodies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and Project 211 Universities recognised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) of the People's Republic of China.

Additional quality assurance requirements will apply to those higher education providers that have not undergone such additional accreditation agency reviews (such as AACSB, EQUIS) until such time as CPA Australia is satisfied with the sustainability and quality of their accounting programs.

3. Innovation in teaching and learning

In the interests of meeting the evolving needs of the accounting profession, we continue to encourage this type of innovation. Non-technical skills, like critical thinking, ethical judgment and communication skills, are highlighted by the profession as essential accounting graduate attributes. Whereever possible, we'll help to provide resource links between academia and the profession, to help shape program development and delivery.

4. Advocacy

While it's not a formal part of the program accreditation process, we may use information from the process to inform our advocacy on higher education policy and funding issues impacting accounting.