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K-State Today

June 11, 2019

Crocs, sugar and global business: K-State accounting students take a sweet study trip to Australia

Submitted by Brett Wilkinson

The group poses in front of the Sydney Opera House

Kansas State University accounting students know that they really do inhabit a globally-integrated business world. In May, 19 students in the Master of Accountancy program traveled to Australia to study international business and to collaborate with Australian students on an international transfer pricing case study.

Led by faculty members Brett Wilkinson and Sheila Coomes, the students spent 13 days visiting Sydney and Cairns.

"We designed this international study experience to mirror real-life business experiences," Wilkinson said. "Faculty members created blended teams of Australian and U.S. students who collaborated remotely on a case study, before meeting up in Australia to present their conclusions."

In addition to working with the Australian students, the team visited major international accounting firms, visited the Reserve Bank of Australia, and learned about the Australian superannuation retirement program — which has assets of nearly AU$3 trillion under management. The group also toured a sugar mill in northern Queensland and learned about the sugar industry. Australia is a major exporter of raw sugar.

"My experience to Australia was truly life-changing," said Ashley Eberhart, master's student, Louisburg. "Not only was I able to apply the concepts from my international tax course, such as transfer pricing, but I was also able to experience a different culture. Due to my previous class experience I was able to discuss international tax concepts with professionals in Australia and develop a deeper understanding of the topic."

The students also recognized the value of the experiential learning exercise.

"Studying international tax and transfer pricing through the case study took the learning outside of the classroom," said Brandon Fahsholtz, master's student, Wichita. "The real-world focused learning and the ability to interact with Australian students and professionals has provided me with experiences that will be beneficial in my career."

Cultural highlights of the trip included a cruise on Sydney Harbour, a private tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, a visit to a crocodile farm and a snorkeling excursion to the Great Barrier Reef.

"It's a meaningful and fun way for our students to prepare themselves for careers in a global business world," Wilkinson said.

The Department of Accounting plans to run a similar trip to Ireland in summer 2020 before returning to Australia again in summer 2021.

The College of Business Administration offers several study abroad experiences throughout the year. For more information on future accounting-oriented study abroad programs, email Wilkinson at bwilkinson@k-state.edu or visit cba.k-state.edu/current-students/study-abroad/index.html.