Rome, Italy (WCOA 2014). The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland) has launched an online CPA certificate on IPSAS financial reporting (IPSASAcademy.net) for accountants working in public sector organisations, particularly those in emerging economies.
IPSASAcademy.net’s aim, which was developed in partnership with Nelson Croom, a publisher of online professional development courses, is to teach accountants the internationally recognised accrual based accounting standards for public sector financial reporting.
The nine modules course, which takes approximately 70 hours to complete, was designed for accountants working anywhere around the word, but CPA Ireland said it would be particularly interesting for those working in developing countries.
CPA Ireland director of member services David Fitzgerald said: "It could pick up in every country but I think there is an additional dynamic in developing countries whereby a lot of programmes are funded by third parties and I think more and more funders prefer to see standardised standards being used in developing countries both in the public and private sector."
Nelson Croom and CPA Ireland have been collaborating for over 10 years, but Nelson Croom CEO Alan Nelson explained that the idea of developing an IPSAS course served the purpose of both organisations.
"There is already a lot on IFRS and we identified a gap with regards to IPSAS, as apart from the course we are now launching there is only one other competitor," he said.
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Fitzgerald added: "Arising of our work in Africa we are very conscious of the drive for various organisations around the world to adapt IPSAS and implement them, in short the starting point of this project is that there is a need for it."
In order to qualify candidates have to complete nine modules, and an overall final assessment.
Alongside the practical assesment, candidates can see the answer of other students. "This is part of making people not feel isolated when they are on the course as they can see the answers of people from their organisation, institute, or from their country or even from other parts of the words depending on which version of the site they are registered on," Nelson Croom representative Jacqui Nelson said.
Once registered, candidates have 365 days to complete the course. "Modules don’t have to be completed chronologically, so candidates can decide in which order they want to take the modules according to their own needs," Jacqui Nelson said.
While any individual can register online to take the course, Nelson said the objective was to get institutes from around the world to join in as this will bring the numbers necessary for a commercial success.
The first institute to commit to the course is the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) which pledged to have 1,000 of their members take the course.
"The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has announced that the country will be IPSAS compliant by the end of the year, so the Nigerian profession is eager to form and train its members," Nelson said.
Fitzgerald explained that CPA Ireland had delivered IPSAS and IFRS workshops earlier this year in Nigeria. "But we identified a need for a more formal form of training and education," he said.
ANAN members will be offered a jointly branded version of the course. While Nelson Croom will be in charge of the front end customer service, CPA Ireland will provide the academic oversight and taking the qualification to market.
The certificate will be jointly branded between ANAN and CPA Ireland, according to Fitzgerald. "So their members will see a course originating from us but in partnership with their institute."
Asked whether this form of academy could be replicated on other topics such as IFRS, Fitzgerald said: "Yes it is open to us, but this is a big step for us and we will first focus on the feedback we get from participants at the World Congress of Accountants in Rome, and there is still a lot of work as we might have to translate the modules in French, Chinese or others."