It has been 15 years since Oxford Brookes University and ACCA began its innovative BSc in Applied Accounting. In that time some 24,500 people have graduated from many countries, including the UK, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, China, Jamaica, Barbados, Dubai, and Vietnam
‘The BSc in Applied Accounting is a collaborative provision between Oxford Brookes University and ACCA that aims to prepare students for a career as a professional accountant and to equip them to make a wider contribution to their organisations, communities and society,’ explains Jane Towers-Clark, head of department, accounting, finance and economics and programme lead, BSc Applied Accounting, OBU.
‘It does this by incorporating students’ professional accountancy studies into an academic programme and by enhancing and extending the knowledge and skills achieved through professional examinations,’ Towers-Clark continues. ‘The BSc in Applied Accounting widens access to university learning and qualifications by enabling ACCA students across the world to obtain an OBU degree.’
2015 is the 15th anniversary of this important partnership between OBU and ACCA and there have been a number of events linked to graduation ceremonies to celebrate this, with current students, alumni, mentors, learning providers and employers joining Oxford Brookes and ACCA staff in the celebrations, says Towers-Clark.
‘Graduation ceremonies are being held in the UK, Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai and are a celebration of achievement by students and provide the opportunity for students’ families and other guests to recognise and celebrate their success.’
Speaking at the Oxford Brookes 150th anniversary celebratory dinner held in July 2015, Brian McEnery, ACCA deputy president, said: 'What really resonates with me about the OBU BSc degree is that if someone did not study an undergraduate degree course at university, then they still have the chance to gain a degree while studying to become a qualified accountant with ACCA. It is the perfect way for someone to enhance their ACCA Qualification and broaden their skills. That’s social mobility in action.’
One OBU alumni, Rotimi Diyaolu FCCA CPA, who began her career in Nigeria and now works in New York City as the controller of Bellevue Hospital Center, the United States’ oldest hospital, cites the OBU degree as key to helping him make a career in the US. ‘I needed the OBU degree in accounting to provide a baseline to my career, as my first degree was not in finance,’ he explains. ‘I needed to carefully craft my career properly from the get-go, as I knew I was going to finally relocate to the US after completing my studies in Europe. As it turned out, taking the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) exams would not have been possible without the OBU degree.’
For E Thompson Koramoa FCCA, regional finance director at DPD Group in the UK, the OBU combined with a professional qualification such as ACCA is a powerful combination in a highly competitive job market. ‘It undoubtedly put me in demand with employers and helped increase my career prospects,’ he says.
‘Over the past 15 years the world of business has been impacted by increasing globalisation and technological advancements for both consumers and providers of goods and services,’ continues Thompson. ‘This has also created opportunities and a market for skilled professionals who are adept at harnessing these changes to deliver value for their organisations. The ACCA Qualification and OBU degree certainly provide students with the technical, strategic, analytical, people and communication skills required to be at the forefront of successfully delivering value for their organisations in spite of these changes.’
Amish Dudhia ACCA, a commercial financial controller for Poundland in the UK, thinks that not only does the ACCA Qualification and OBU degree provide a thorough grounding to a career in finance, but that to hold them is a strong signal of ambition and desire, not unlike that needed to be a great Premier League football manager.
‘If someone were to ask me whether they should embark on the OBU degree,’ says Amish, ‘I’d ask them how they’d like to be recognised as an individual? Would they like to be known as a Sir Alex Ferguson? Or would they just want to be known as a run-of-the-mill Premier League manager, who’s happy to fight it out mid-table every season? It’s about inherent ambition.’
Meanwhile, for Rotimi the ACCA and OBU combination has helped his career trajectory, particularly to the US which has very specific regulations around operating as an accountant. ‘The OBU degree has positively impacted my career in the US because without a degree in accounting it would have been a tough sell to get a job. The baseline requirement for a job posting is a degree in accounting, while qualifications, such as ACCA, will confer extra advantage.’
Similarly, Thompson would also recommend to any aspiring professional the OBU route. ‘Go for it! The flexibility to study while working and the resources available to you whilst studying are very handy and ultimately the benefits for your future career as a finance professional are immense.’