In response to proposed new rules by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, two professors at Kansas State University have issued a national call for better business ethics education and better accounting ethics education.

K-State faculty members Dann Fisher and Diane Swanson have issued a national call in support of the proposed NASBA rule, which they say would effectively mandate a new curriculum for accounting degree programs.

Swanson is a K-State associate professor of management and the Von Waaden Business Administration Professor. Fisher is a K-State associate professor of accounting and the Deloitte and Touche Faculty Fellow.

According to Fisher, the NASBA proposal would require three hours of accounting ethics coursework and three hours of business ethics coursework as a condition of sitting for the CPA Exam.

"We've suggested specific changes in accounting curriculum to help avoid the lapses in moral judgment that we've witnessed with Arthur Andersen and company," Swanson said. "Amazingly, there is resistance to the idea of having a required ethics course in the accounting curriculum."

Swanson and Fisher's research on new state requirements for continuing education in accounting has found that 34 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands now require ethics coursework in continuing education, while many university accounting degree programs do not.

"In general, accounting faculty appear to be unwilling to change and, at the same time, bitter that an external body would attempt to force them to change curriculum," said Fisher, who called the status quo "unacceptable."

"Recent scandals suggest that too many accounting graduates are ill-equipped to recognize ethical dilemmas, much less prevent and resolve them. As educators, we should find this alarming," he said.

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