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Northern Ireland's underperforming economy must reduce its dependence on the public sector, according to Ulster accountancy expert Ronnie Patton.

Mr Patton, who has just been elected President of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said: "The global economy is struggling to recover.

"The key task in Northern Ireland is to reduce our dependency on the public sector, and across the border, there are major concerns about whether the bail-out package is indeed a rescue or a fatal blow."

At the same time, he said, professional accounting practice will make a vital contribution to the task of solving some of the problems we are now experiencing.

“ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. ACCA aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.”

This is a bold claim, but the facts seem to justify it, said Mr Patton. The ACCA was founded in 1904 and was the first body to offer the opportunity to obtain a Professional qualification on the basis of ability, as opposed to financial resources. The forward looking and innovative vision which has characterised ACCA since its foundation is evident, in that it was also the first Professional Accountancy body to allow women to obtain the qualification.

“ACCA now has 147,000 members and 424,000 students in 170 countries. Although success isn’t purely a matter of numbers, it is clear that ACCA exerts considerable influence. ACCA is active in areas of importance to both business and society in general, including: initiatives related to the simplification of taxation administration; reducing the barriers to starting a business; improving access to finance and restating the value of audit to wider society.”

After taking his ‘A’ levels at Bangor Grammar School, reflection on his likely career path led Ronnie to study for the ACCA qualification at the University of Ulster. After some thought, the option of getting started on a career while working for a qualification seemed an attractive option. The flexibility of the ACCA qualification appealed, and he became a member in 1981. Since then, he has worked in professional practice and industry, before returning to education, first to a local College and then to the University as a Senior Lecturer in Professional Accounting Practice.

“The University has always been focused on quality professional education and graduate employability. With the imminent increase in student fees, it may be that many young people will be looking very carefully at their options. The flexibility offered by the University’s innovative approach to course design, fits extremely well with both the flexibility of the ACCA qualification, and the current environment.”

Congratulating Ronnie on his new role as ACCA Ireland President, Dr Gillian Armstrong, Head of the Department of Accounting said: “In the Department of Accounting, we are actively seeking to maximise the flexibility that is available to our students. Professional courses, such as ACCA are very important for us and provide an important route into Professional Accountancy, Finance and Management. The Presidency role comes at an opportune time and as a Department, we are looking forward to increasing cooperation between ACCA and the Ulster Business School to maximise learning opportunities for students."

Notes for Editors

For further information on the ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (Professional Scheme) programme at the Ulster Business School, please contact Course Director, Ronnie Patton, email, Telephone: 028 90368510 or go to: