The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is proud of the success of its 100% online BCom Accountancy degree that was fully accredited by SAICA in 2022. Professor Amanda Dempsey CA(SA) and Professor Marelize Malan CA(SA) both played a significant role in the development of the programme and are excited to witness the second intake of students already graduating successfully.
Being one of the trend-setting universities in digital transformation in South Africa, in June 2018, UJ proudly announced a handful of fully online courses as an additional offering to their existing contact courses − part of their commitment to remain leaders in technology-enhanced learning opportunities aligned with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy was identified as one of the courses to be designed specifically for fully online delivery.
Little did UJ imagine that in March 2020 they, along with many other universities worldwide, would have to stop all academic activities and find new ways to cope with distance learning. However, due to their forward-thinking approach to blended learning in existing courses and various fully online courses, UJ was ready and equipped to adapt with agility to the global pandemic and switch fully to online education within a week of lockdown. Consequently, students were still able to complete the 2020 academic year in 2020.
In response to the changing nature of the educational environment, Professor Amanda Dempsey, Senior Director at the UJ School of Accounting, and Professor Marelize Malan CA(SA), Associate Professor at the Department of Accountancy, played a crucial and innovative role in initiating the UJ online qualifications programme to offer potential students wishing to pursue a career in accounting the possibility to earn a BCom accounting qualification within their own timeframe. In 2022, UJ was proud to announce the graduation of the first 14 full-time online students and in 2023, the next batch of 14 students will be graduating. There are currently 490 students enrolled per intake, with six intakes per year.
‘With the implementation of online qualifications for the College of Business and Economics (CBE), I experienced a sense of triumph born out of forethought, planning, and innovation. It became a huge bonus for the faculty and university, especially when the COVID pandemic struck,’ says Professor Dempsey, adding that this was a fundamental shift in the landscape of higher education.
‘To see that students graduate gives us such a feeling of accomplishment to think that the student could complete the degree while working and/or living outside of the country and that the student never set foot on campus. Physical boundaries are no longer a hurdle in getting quality accounting education,’ she adds.
‘One of the biggest challenges we faced was where to start. Knowing how to deliver a course and achieve its outcomes differs greatly from delivering it online. We knew it had to go through a well-thought-out process and a proper design for the course to make sense to students,’ says Professor Malan.
‘We had many stakeholders involved, with various inputs, which complicated the process. From the look and feel, to what content needed to be included, was a difficult process,’ she explains.
‘We developed the degree using best practices in online learning, but also bringing in the expertise that we have in our respective subject areas. Although it is fully online, it still provides students with an engaged experience where they can interact with other students and with the facilitators.’
The content development and instructional design of the qualifications were done as a fully online degree. Lecturers were trained in digital teaching, specifically focusing on the tools that a learning management system (LMS) has to offer.
A unique feature of the degree is that it is based on the carousel model, a revolutionary and forward-thinking model unlike any other educational model used in South Africa. According to this model, at every intake six modules are on offer and a student will register for one of them based on their progression in the degree. The six modules change and rotate with every intake as the carousel moves throughout the year. A module will be presented over seven weeks giving students (especially those working) the ability to focus their time and attention on that specific module. After a week’s break, the student will be ready to start a new module.
‘Another area of success is that we do provide applicants who have either completed another degree or who have work experience in the financial field, the ability to apply for the degree, even if their matric results might not be at the required level. These applicants will complete a recognition of prior learning (RPL) and if successful, they will gain entry to a BCom degree that they might not have access to in another way,’ explains Professor Malan.
With six start dates per year, 490 students enrolled per intake, no travel required and a pay-per-module approach, their format gives any first-time student or working professional a convenient and accelerated opportunity to advance their professional career and go on to qualify as a CA(SA), AGA(SA) or AT(SA).
Find out more about UJ’s online accounting programme
The Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy is a professionally oriented and highly relevant online programme that provides students with an international perspective on the global principles of finance and accounting. Potential students are individuals who want to pursue a career as professionals in the broad fields of finance and accounting but who, owing to financial and geographical barriers, are unable to access contact education, or who would prefer the flexibility offered by distance learning.
This online programme will develop students’ intellectual, practical and critical-thinking skills so that they can apply subject-related knowledge and solve problems, as is expected of entry-level accountants in international practice.
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Accounting Courses | Online Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy (uj.ac.za).