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The Independent Online
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland's commitment to research and educational standards is so well known that it perhaps comes as something of a surprise that Professor Niall Lothian is the first full-time academic to become president in 20 years.

According to the insititute, which confirmed Professor Lothian's appointment last week, the move reflects its "recognition of the increasing importance of student and post-qualifying education in accountancy".

For his part, Professor Lothian, chair of accounting at Heriot-Watt University, says: "I believe that my academic background allows me to be more objective about Icas and more perceptive in relation to the wider issues affecting the profession."

Now 47, Professor Lothian was born in Edinburgh and trained in the city's office of Arthur Young (now part of Ernst & Young) after studying at Heriot- Watt University. He then returned to the university as a lecturer in 1973 and has since taken on progressively more senior positions both within and outside the institution.

Previously head of the accountancy and finance department and director of the business school, where he helped to originate the distance-learning MBA course that claims to be the largest in the world, he took up his present post in 1988. He also conducts seminars and briefings around the world - for both companies and other business schools. He has a visiting appointment at Insead in Fontainebleau and is a member of the international executive advisory committee of the College of Finance and Accounting in Budapest.

He has, however, kept a close interest in the institute since becoming the first student to be appointed to one of its committees.

What can only be a limited amount of spare time is largely split between being an elder of the High Kirk of St Giles, a governor of George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and that most Scottish of pastimes - golf.

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