About the Project
The Learning and Teaching Academic Standards project was established under the Australian Learning and Teaching Council in 2009 with the aim of developing minimum learning standards for higher education courses, aligned with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), across a range of demonstration disciplines. Accounting was the first business discipline selected for standards development given it has well-defined employment outcomes, engaged professional bodies and weighting in the typical portfolio of both public and private business higher education providers.
The Achievement Matters project developed a model for assuring stakeholders that accounting graduates meet the new learning standards by relying on peer review of assessment design and student work. The model differed from standardised testing, using anonymous, calibrated external peer review of student learning outcomes. This promotes diversity among institutions and courses, incorporates practitioner and academic views, supports professional development, and reduces employer expectation gaps. Importantly, it also minimises the potential consequences of standardised tests—such as teaching to the test—and places greater emphasis on the development of soft skills.
The development and assessment of accounting learning standards has considerably influenced thinking about accounting higher education. As a result, accreditation requirements of CPAA and CAANZ recognise the learning standards and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) acknowledging the accounting learning standards as a benchmark.
The Business Higher Education Roundtable recognised the collaboration with industry which is an important part of Achievement Matters via an award in 2012. Achievement Matters has been recognised by international experts and this pioneering work has been reflected in research (e.g. Bloxham et al, Higher Education Research and Development, 2015), public commentary (e.g. Times Higher Education and in recent recommendations by the UK Higher Education Academy to the Higher Education Funding Council (June 2015) to improve the external examiner system for assuring academic standards.
The final Project report was submitted in 2015 and is available on the OLT website at: http://www.olt.gov.au/system/files/resources/ID11-1913_hancock_final%20report_2015.pdf
While the final report has been submitted Achievement Matters will continue in 2016 supported by the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, the ABDC and the 18 participating institutions.