Purpose: This paper aims to examine the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the relationship between UK universities and professional accounting bodies (PABs) in the context of the accreditation system and how well prepared this relationship was to observe and respond to the pandemic. Design/methodology/approach: The research draws on 10 semi-structured interviews and correspondence, with six English universities in the context of their relationship with three PABs to build an extended analytical structure to understand the nature and extent of the accreditation system in light of COVID-19. Findings: The study shows that COVID-19 has highlighted pedagogical and ideological conflicts within the PAB–university relationship. The analysis shows that, in an attempt to resolve these conflicts, universities demonstrate “unrequited love” for PABs by limiting changes to assessments to meet the PABs’ criteria. Indeed, PABs face very little resistance from universities. This further constrains academics by suppressing innovation and limiting their scope to learn and adopt new skills, habits and teaching styles. Originality/value: The paper highlights the weakness of the PAB–university relationship. Moreover, it shows that rather than using the pandemic crisis to question this relationship, PABs may seek to promote their accounting pedagogy and retain greater control of the accounting curriculum. This can entail the transformation of academics into translators of PABs’ accounting pedagogy rather than exercising academic freedom and promoting critical thinking.
- Accounting education
- Higher education
- Professional accounting bodies
- UK higher education