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Rosie Bukics, Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Professor of economics and business, gives the following description of teaching U.S. accounting standards to students in Dijon, France:

Opportunities to combine accounting and foreign travel don’t occur very often, but when they do, it’s a wonderful experience for those on either side of the balance sheet.

Everyone knows that France and the U.S. have had their differences throughout time. But one set of differences that would hardly make the news across the world is those involving financial accounting and reporting issues. Yet, it is important to recognize these differences, especially for those who have any aspirations for working in the international environment. These differences also impact how students are educated.

Students in the U.S. must be proficient in understanding and applying the financial accounting and reporting principles set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and its predecessors, as well as any additional requirements put forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is also useful for them to have some working knowledge of the international standards convergence project underway between the International Accounting Standards Board and FASB.

For French students enrolled in the graduate program in international accounting at the business school (Ecole Superieur de Commerce) in Dijon, France, however, proficiency requires that they be competent in three sets of standards. Acquiring knowledge of both the French standards (used by all French companies except those listed on a stock exchange) and the international standards (required for any listing company in a European Union country beginning in 2005) is the primary focus of the program. However, understanding U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is also required. Thus the business school needs to find an instructor whose specialty is U.S. GAAP, but the person must also be knowledgeable about French accounting standards and international financial reporting requirements in order to discuss some of the differences among the three sets of requirements. Being able to speak some French, especially for the technical accounting and financial terms, is a plus even though the students are all conversant in English. One additional detail: The crash course in U.S. GAAP is limited to 16-20 hours of instruction.

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to fill this need for the past two years and it is a highly rewarding experience. The students are in their last year of graduate school in a program that accepts one of six students and they are highly motivated. It also is a great benefit for me to teach in one of the best business schools in France. Vive la difference!

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