Ernst & Young is developing a curriculum to help accounting students learn about International Financial Reporting Standards.

The firm is forming the Ernst & Young Academic Resource Center, in collaboration with university faculty. The center will develop learning materials to help students and faculty adjust as U.S. generally accepted accounting principles converge with IFRS. Another Big Four firm, Deloitte & Touche, has announced its own academic initiative (see Deloitte Forms IFRS Education Consortium).

“Currently there’s really a dearth of material in curricula and textbooks,” said Ellen Glazerman, Ernst & Young’s Americas director of university relations. “Many companies are also global and that new talent coming out has to be familiar with IFRS. The faculty hasn’t had time to develop material for students. We thought we would incubate it.”

The firm has already sent out a short handbook outlining some of the main differences between IFRS and GAAP to faculty around the country, she noted, and for some “priority campuses” the firm has sent the two-volume “2008 International GAAP” reference book that E&Y developed, which was published by Wiley. One professor is already lugging the books around while he travels through Australia.

The Academic Resource Center will also host conferences and provide on-campus speakers. Staffed by Ernst & Young professionals and rotating faculty, the center will officially launch in September 2008, and curricula will begin to be distributed to campuses in January 2009.

“I believe it’s a matter of when, not if, U.S. companies begin to convert to IFRS,” said Danita Ostling, Ernst & Young’s Americas IFRS technical leader. “It’s incumbent on companies to begin educating themselves and the auditing firms to begin preparing the students who will be working with the companies and the audit firms in the next few years when this happens.”

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