Insights into Accounting education in a COVID-19 world
2020-10-21

This paper was written in collaboration with Professor Alan Sangster for the publication Taylor and Francis, you can read the original article here.

This paper presents a compilation of personal reflections from 66 contributors on the impact of, and responses to, COVID-19 in accounting education in 45 different countries around the world. It reveals a commonality of issues, and a variability in responses, many positive outcomes, including the creation of opportunities to realign learning and teaching strategies away from the comfort of traditional formats, but many more that are negative, primarily relating to the impact on faculty and student health and well-being, and the accompanying stress. It identifies issues that need to be addressed in the recovery and redesign stages of the management of this crisis, and it sets a new research agenda for studies in accounting education.

The onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic has led to fundamental change in countries around the world. Healthcare systems, economies and the lives of citizens have altered in a myriad of ways that were, in the main, unimaginable at the beginning of 2020, such that we now talk of the requirements of public health guidance (social distancing, mask-wearing, ‘working from home’, etc.) as elements of a ‘new normal’.

The higher education sector has been impacted profoundly by the pandemic. The lockdowns imposed in most countries resulted in the immediate closure of university and college campuses and the move to remote delivery of all academic activities and related support/ancillary services. As senior management in universities and colleges sought to devise institutional responses to the ‘external shock’ of the pandemic, accounting faculty were faced with the challenge of changing overnight their approaches to every aspect of their work: teaching, learning, assessment, pastoral student support, research, service, and engagement, not to mention their lives and the lives of their families.

The manner of operating universities and colleges remotely, and the duration of restrictions, have varied and continue to vary around the world, and on several levels: the individual, the department, the institution, and local and national policies. We found that we were drawn to talking to colleagues in our own institutions and other institutions (locally and further afield) about how they were adapting the nature of their work and the means of delivering that work remotely. In the course of those conversations, it was evident that there is a natural curiosity in the academic community to learn more about the similarities and differences of approaches and practices.

We have every expectation that Accounting Education will publish many research papers in the months and years ahead that will examine empirically many issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, to respond to readers’ interests and developmental needs, we will make every effort to expedite such papers through the normal review processes of the journal. However, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and such research papers will not meet the pressing need of accounting educators to share recent experiences and to learn from the practices of the community as we set about planning the next delivery of courses in the context of the ‘new normal’.

Published by Business School, University of Aberdeen

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