Over the past two decades, higher education in advanced capitalist societies has undergone a process of radical "reform". A key element of this reform has been the introduction of a number of accounting-based techniques in the pursuit of improved accountability and transparency. While the 'old' accounting was to do with stewardship, the 'new' accounting is to do with performance. In accordance with the performance principle , the publishing companies and the higher education funding bodies have engaged in ranking exercises. These exercises impact on all aspects of academic life as the entities that are ranked and rated include universities, disiplines, journals, and academics and their 'outputs' in teaching and research. This paper explores the genesis and the consequences of the performance discourse. It argues for a philosophical separation of the notions of accountability and accounting. Furthermore, it raises the issue of academic accountability as something that exceeds the logic of accounting.
Sir Robert Keith Yorston (1902-1983) was an Australian business educator and practitioner. He was a prolific author whose textbooks were adopted by the professional bodies, technical colleges and universities both in Australia and New Zealand. A large part of Yorston's career was devoted to the Australian Accountancy College. Yorston was at the forefront of the professional dialogue on the quality of financial reporting in Australia. He also advocated improvements in matters of corporate governance including gender equality and employee reporting. It is argued that many of Yorston's ideas were ahead of their time, and there is a need for an awareness of his contribution to accounting thought and practice. This article is an acknowledgement of Yorston's endeavours. It recognizes his contribution to accounting education, the profession and the wider community. In so doing, it traces an important chapter in the history of accounting education and practice in Australia.