The Tokyo Accounting Center-Athabasca University Program to Prepare Japanese Accountants for the US CPA Examination
[This title is a little dry. I would change it to
something like: "A Partnership for International Exchange: The Tokyo
Accounting Center-Athabasca University Program"]
[This title is a little dry. I would change it to something like: "A Partnership for International Exchange: The Tokyo Accounting Center-Athabasca University Program"]
go to previous version with critical reviews
go to previous version
The revolution in world-wide communications and the globalization of national economies have created unprecedented opportunities for international networking, exchange, and collaboration. One such partnership [Change to "opportunity is"] the Tokyo Accounting Centre (TAC)-Athabasca University [AU] Program. to prepare Japanese Accountants for the US CPA Examination, begun two years ago, provides a concrete example of what is possible when there is a mutually concerted effort to form an international joint educational program using distance learning technologies. [Revise this sentence in the following way: "Begun two years ago, the program prepares Japanese Accountants for the US CPA examination; it's a concrete example of the promise of international joint educational programs using distance learning technologies."]
International exchange can be conceptualized as [Delete and insert the word "is."] a process of increasing behavioral interdependence. Scanzoni (1979) describes a three-stage model of developmental progression in relationships [Delete.] that can serve as an explanation of [Delete and insert the word "explains."] the process of exchange between organizations across international boundaries.
Stage I. Exploration covers the first contacts between two or more [international] entities from different countries [Delete.] and their initial efforts to forge some kind of relationship by [Change to "through."] subsequent contacts. These entities seek to learn about each other in order to determine the likelihood that the other can provide resources needed to attain strategic objectives. If these entities discover that some kind of association may be mutually beneficial, a decision is made to [Delete and insert the word "they."] proceed with some form of international exchange.
The relationship between TAC and Athabasca University began shortly after TAC, one of the largest accounting schools in Japan, recognized that among [Change to "many of."] the 20% of the scores of thousands [Delete.] of their students who read and write English there was great [change to "were"] interested in obtaining a United States credential as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). But in order to sit for the examination, the [Delete and insert the word "However."], accountant accrediting agencies in each of the United States impose different sets of prerequisites [upon those wishing to sit for the CPA examination]. There are six states where non-North American nationals who complete 30 credits of relevant course work may sit for the CPA examination. TAC officials began a search for a North American university willing to enter into a collaborative arrangement that would enable TAC students to complete these 30 credits of course work [Delete.]. Universities approached by TAC were either not interested or too expensive to enter into an exchange arrangement. [Revise this sentence in the following way: "Universities that TAC approached initially were either not interested in the arrangement or were too expensive. But soon, TAC found what it was looking for in AU.]
TAC was initially [Delete.] attracted to AU [at first] because, unlike conventional residential instruction institutions, AU is a unimodal distance education university; TAC subsequently discovered that AU [Delete and insert the word "it."] has inherent structural flexibility simply non-existent at most other universities. In order to serve distance education students, AU comprises separate subsystems that enable the breaking down of [Delete.] certain operations [to be broken down] into their constituent elements. [For example,] at conventional universities, for example, [Delete.] multiple aspects of teaching are primarily the responsibility of faculty members [change to "faculty's responsibility"], sometimes accompanied by [change to "with the aid of"] one or more graduate assistants. At AU, however, teaching is a multidimensional process conducted by several sets of actors or subsystems: [The following bullets formatting is my insertion.]
content experts who compile course content in the form of [Delete.] textbooks and other didactic [Delete.] materials,
course coordinators who determine the [Change to "courses'"] overall designs of the course [Delete.],
course materials editors and visual designers who determine [Change to "develop."] the physical and visual layouts of the [Delete.] print and/or digital course materials,
educational technologists and multimedia specialists who determine [Change to "orchestrate."] the interplay of media and text,
professors or tutors who engage in [Delete.] interact with students,
professors or tutors who produce and mark examinations,
registry staff [members] who administer the [Delete.] examinations, and
counselors and professors or tutors who advise students.
This capacity of [Delete.] AU's [capacity] to "unbundle" the teaching function [Change to "teaching."] creates flexible options for partners in an international exchange, options that can result in significant cost savings for both partners. As John Daniel points out, "These technologies are simply the working practices that underpin the rest of today's modern industrial and service economy: division of labor, specialization, teamwork and project management. These are not the traditional working practices of universities" (1999, p. 8).
At the outset, executive officers at TAC and AU found themselves disclosing their interests and agreeing to enter into a mutually beneficial exchange. TAC needed a way to enable their [Change to "its."] students to complete 30 credits of course work in order to qualify to sit for the US CPA examination. AU needed a way to cover the costs of entering into the exchange and to expand its overseas programming.
Stage II. Expansion of Interlocking Interest-Spheres. If the partners to an international exchange continue the process of communication and exchange, their range of [shared] interests about which they relate [Delete.] typically broadens, creating in its wake a sense of increasing interdependence. They move to [change to "The partners"] jointly decide to engage in one or more jointly planned programs—at first on a trial basis and then, if successful, on a more stable basis.
In the case of the TAC-AU exchange, initial explorations led to the development of a joint program of preparing [Change to "to prepare"] Japanese accounting professionals to pass the US CPA examination. To implement the exchange, one member of the accounting faculty and an associate registrar were assigned to visit TAC and negotiate the terms of a formal relationship. A warm relationship emerged, and over several days, a model of exchange emerged [Change to "developed."] that met the needs of both institutions. This program has the following features:
TAC determines eligibility for the program. To enter the program, students must be able to read and write in English. About 10% of the 82,000 students studying with TAC in four cities have this ability.
AU supplies each TAC instructor with a complete set of course materials.
TAC instructors incorporate AU materials into their teaching of the following courses: Accounting for Managers of Not-for-Profit Organizations, Introductory USA Financial Accounting, Intermediate USA Financial Accounting, Intermediate USA Financial Accounting, Cost Analysis, Advanced USA Financial Accounting, Decision Analysis, Principles of USA Auditing, Introduction to USA Commercial Law, and Introduction to USA Income Tax.
TAC instructors use the same textbooks that AU uses in its own courses [change to "as AU instructors"] and have been granted permission to make reprints of parts of other AU materials.
AU instructors compose examinations in such a way that they resemble in appearance and content the actual CPA exams TAC students will sit for in the U.S.
TAC compensates AU to cover the costs of making and marking the examinations, plus the administrative overhead.
Without revealing the precise questions to be included, AU faculty members who compose the exams send notes to prepare and build relationships with TAC instructors regarding topics covered and the different kinds of questions. [Revise this sentence in the following way: "Without revealing questions actually included in the exams, AU faculty members build relationships with TAC instructors by discussing topics covered and the different kinds of questions on the exams."] TAC instructors, in turn, let the students know what to expect.
TAC arranges for students, once they complete [change to "who have completed"] their course work to write the challenge exams for the ten courses needed to earn the 30 credits [I don't quite understand what you mean in the preceding sentence. Please explain further.]. The exams are staged in such a way that students can sit four times to complete them. [Students are] not allowed to sit for more than three exams at any one time; they typically complete the 30 credits in two years.
AU staff administers challenge exams four times a year. Challenge exams are not only an inexpensive way to administer credit, but also they are an efficient way to assure top quality instruction. [Make the preceding sentence the last sentence in this bullet.] Administering challenge exams is less expensive than sending AU's own [faculty to Japan,] contracting faculty to Japan, or contracting people in Japan to teach the ten courses.
AU staff marks all exams and AU faculty who mark exams write notes to TAC instructors, [Delete.] report any problem areas that may have shown up in the evaluation [to TAC instructors]. The instructors thus knows [change to "learn."] what to do to improve student performance next time [Delete.].
For each student who fails an exam, AU prepares an individual assessment aimed at better professional formation.
Before a student who fails an exam can re-sit for that exam, TAC must vouch that the student is prepared to retake the exam. (Re-takes are limited.)
The Stage II of the International Exchange, begun in June 1997, resulted in a mutually beneficial business development that appears to be working well for both parties as well as for students. Of the students who have sat for the US CPA examination, between 65%-75% have passed; this figure is almost double the pass rate (25-35%) of US students. This statistic reflects the high quality of instruction, individualized attention, and personal feedback received by [change to "that"] participants in the program [receive]—far more than is usually given to [Delete.] US students [usually receive as they] prepare for the same examinations.
Stage III. Commitment. This stage is reached when [Delete.] The parties involved in an exchange [reach this stage when they] form a general expectation to maintain the relationship. [They repeat] activities that began earlier, are repeated and serve to [Delete.] reinforcing the perceived equitable balance of short-range and long-range interests. What began as a limited one-on-one relationship can evolve into a recognized network with an identity and a mission of its own, thus maintaining the flow of benefits which arise from the association. [What prevails is a] genuine sense of commitment to the furtherance and expansion of the scope [Delete.] of the exchange process.
In the case of the TAC-AU exchange, Stage III began when a third formal agreement was signed by the senior TAC and AU executive officers in April of 1999. Several provisions of the agreement are noteworthy [Delete.] TAC agreed to provide an examination [Delete.] center for Athabasca University [change to "AU"] examinations in Tokyo four times a year and to provide Athabasca University students residing in Japan with [Delete the preceding and insert "as well as"] registration and administrative support to [AU students residing in Japan, support which will] enable them to communicate clearly with Athabasca University [change to "AU"]. AU agreed to continue offering regular home study versions of each of the ten courses required for the certificate. Additionally, it agreed to award a university certificate in accounting (USA) to AU students registered with TAC that will be "ladderable" [What does this mean?] to a full Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Besides acknowledging their mutual responsibilities of maintaining the integrity of high academic standards for the current program, [AU and TAC] the agreement, signed by AU and TAC, [Delete.] declared [in their agreement] a commitment to "work together to expand services and programs to students residing in Japan." This expansion of the collaboration is envisaged in [Delete and insert "concerns"] two distinct areas: (1) TAC's promotion of AU's degrees and certificates to be delivered via home study to Japanese residents and (2) TAC's serving [change to "role"] as AU's agent in promoting and delivering courses and programs in cooperation with other Japanese institutions.
Thus, this international exchange between [Delete.] TAC and AU have proceeded through Stages I, II, and III of the international exchange and cooperation process. Underlying this process, both theoretically and in practical terms for the two entities of this exchange, [Delete.] is the principle of reciprocity, based on perceived benefits to be accrued to [Delete.] each institution's [perceived benefits] and willingness to make changes for a shared common good. In the minds of both parties to this exchange is [Delete.] The value added [for both parties is] made possible by each institution's willingness to build on each other's strengths to provide a high quality joint program.
The TAC-AU exchange has resulted in these outcomes:
[AU's] involvement in this program has broadened the experience and influence of the academic unit within AU, the [Delete and insert "its] Centre for Commerce and Administrative Studies, reflecting the commitment and dedication of AU's faculty and administrative officers, who negotiated and implemented the terms of the exchange. (It is also to the credit of [Delete.] The AU Faculty Association and the Accounting faculty [are also to be commended for their willingness] to consider other ways of doing their work.)
The TAC-AU exchange is a clear demonstration of AU's flexible pricing structure, which has allowed AU to cover costs and TAC to provide North American credits within its existing fee structure.
Now that the TAC-AU exchange has reached Stage III, the shared experience can serve as a springboard for further expansion of international exchanges between AU and other Japanese institutions in addition to TAC.
This Japan-Canada educational exchange has produced expanded learning opportunities for Japanese men and women. [This bullet is a little too general/vague; maybe you could include it in the conclusion, but I would delete it from here.]
The programs' long-run revenue has now passed the break-even point. Given the now modest revenue stream, neither institution has to subsidize the exchange.
In the near future, now emerging Web-based technologies will no doubt expedite the institution-to-institution collaboration. For example, AU will soon have the capacity to permit TAC to download course examinations from secure Web pages. Given the success of the TAC-AU exchange, this program now serves as a replicable template for future AU exchanges with institutions in other countries AU has targeted for international expansion now taking place in [Delete and insert "such as"] China, India, and the Caribbean. As a concrete example of the international exchange process at work, TAC-AU may also serve as a model worthy of replication in other international collaborations.
Cookson, P. S. (1987). International cooperation and exchange. In C. Klevins (Ed.), Materials & Methods in Adult and Continuing Education (pp.101-108). Los Angeles: Klevens [Which is the correct spelling of this name?] Publications, Inc.
Daniel, J. (1999, April). Distance Learning in the Era of Networks. The ACU Bulletin of Current Documentation, p. 8.
Scanzoni, J. (1979). Social Exchange and Behavioral Interdependence. In R. L. Burgess & Ted L. Huston (Eds.), Social Exchange in Developing Relationships [Page numbers??].New York: Academic Press.