This paper adds to an historical understanding of the relation between professional practice and higher education by tracing the Australian Society of Accountant's (ASA) struggle to establish a qualifying examination as part of a new programme of professional accounting education in Australia. In 1970, when the ASA introduced a qualifying examination, which it had developed for candidates commencing their accounting courses in 1967, the higher education institutions protested against this action because it required graduates to sit for an examination which they claimed re-ran material already examined in their curricula. They argued that the ASA's proposal imposed on candidates an examination which was grounded neither in accounting practice nor in a common core of accounting knowledge which related to that practice: the form of the examination had taken many years to devise but it lacked substance. Then, in 1976, another type of qualifying examination was introduced. This programme of study emphasised practical applications of accounting and minimised formal academic procedures. It suffered the same fate as its predecessor. The resistance of the higher education institutions to the former and graduates to the latter assured the failure of the ASA's proposals because, at this point, the ASA lacked any strategies to ensure their cooperation.