University of Johannesburg adds cloud accounting to syllabus

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Colin Timmis, country manager at Xero SA.
Colin Timmis, country manager at Xero SA.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) says it has become the first tertiary education institution in SA to introduce a fully-fledged Xero cloud accounting course to its syllabus.

UJ students can now enrol for Xero Learn, a cloud accounting syllabus developed by Xero, the global cloud accounting and small business company which specialises in helping to drive innovation in financial education for the future of accounting.

Xero will support UJ tutors in preparing courses, delivering lessons and providing students with real-world experience in using cloud technology to support clients.

Technology has advanced rapidly across industries over the last few decades, with cloud computing, in particular, playing a key role in enabling some accounting functions to be automated, allowing more flexibility and quicker turnaround results.

Cloud advancements enable accounts to perform tasks such as tracking cash flow, seamlessly calculate budget and profits, create invoices, manage taxes, track expenses, and make payments.

Last year, UJ partnered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to offer students the “4IR for accountants” course, aimed at empowering chartered accountants with essential fourth industrial revolution skills.

“We’re proud to be the first South African university to introduce Xero to our teaching syllabus,” says professor Amanda Dempsey, senior director at the School of Accounting, University of Johannesburg.

Xero provides an easy-to-use cloud-based accounting software service for small businesses and their advisors around the world. The company says it connects more than two million subscribers with an ecosystem of over 800 third-party apps and additional connections to banks and financial service providers.

According to UJ, every full-time, second-year B Com Accounting student at the university − approximately 800 to 1 000 students each year − will be given a Xero licence.

After completion of the course, every student will be given the option to become ‘Xero Advisor certified’ by completing the Xero Advisor certification.

“Our vision is to educate a generation of accountants that embraces the fourth industrial revolution,” comments Colin Timmis, country manager at Xero SA.

“The partnership is a first for education in the accounting industry and will give our graduates the necessary tools to be well-skilled, agile and ahead of the game. Cloud technology is rapidly transforming accountancy, so it’s critical that the next generation of accountants is equipped with these skills to support businesses through economic challenges.”

According to a Xero research report, accountant expectations are undergoing a radical shift, highlighting a huge dependence on technology.

“The findings show that from one year ago, the majority (61%) of South Africa’s small and medium-sized enterprises preferred their accountants to handle finances exclusively. In new research this year, that number has dropped to only 35%, while the number who consider their accountant a business consultant has more than doubled (11% in 2019 compared to 28% now),” notes the report.

Mandi Olivier, senior executive: professional development pre-qualification at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, comments: “Accounting professionals of the future need to have significantly more digital acumen than in the past.

“The new CA2025 competency framework, which will be introduced at universities from 2021, requires far more emphasis on the acquisition of these digital skills. Digital acumen includes data analytics, cognitive and non-cognitive systems, cyber security and IT user competencies, to name a few. Cloud computing is the way of the future and it is pleasing to see universities adapting by including this in their academic programmes.”

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