University of Bologna (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 1140-1149
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
The aim of this paper is to investigate whether the accounting systems and techniques in use in higher education system in Italy allow key users to have useful information for a rational decision-making process. The paper develops on a specific case, the Italian context of state and non-state universities. The research is conducted through a survey addressed to all Italian universities and investigates accounting conditions during the academic year 2008-2009. It reveals the most common approach to the building of the accounting information system and the level of diffusion and development of cost accounting techniques, identifying areas of improvement.

The paper focuses on the role of the accounting and reporting systems in the public sector tertiary education institutions in the Italian context; particularly we put our attention on how accounting information is interpreted and used by key decisions makers in these organizations. The aim of this work is to ascertain whether the accounting information system of state universities is able to support decisions, in a context of rapid and constant transformation. In this vein the research question is the following: Does the accounting system and cost accounting techniques of universities allow users to have all the information for a rational decision process?

This aim is pursued through the development of five sections. The theoretical framework is outlined trough the review of the NPM literature; the idea of university has undergone significant changes in recent years (par. 2). Looking over the Italian normative and environmental perspective, particular attention will be paid to those laws and pressures that had a considerable impact on the information needs of such institutions, due to their implication for autonomy, evaluation and planning of the activities (parr. 3.1, 3.2). The mixed effect of both administrative reform and external forces has lead to a new accounting system (par. 3.3). Having clarified the peculiarities of this context, it will be investigated the Italian accounting systems and cost accounting techniques in use in HES. In particular, the paper provides the results of a survey conducted on university, aimed at assessing the actual implementation of the reform (parr. 4, 5).