Students looking to begin a career in accounting, or pursue further education in the field, may find that AU’s University Certificate in Accounting is an option worth investigating. In the last year, approximately three hundred and fifty students have applied for this 30-credit program which, according to the AU calendar, has been ?designed for students who want to develop skills and knowledge appropriate for an accounting professional.?
Beth Nixon graduated from the program last September, and is currently enrolled in AU’s University Certificate in Advanced Accounting. Nixon decided to enrol in the Certificate in Accounting program after having moved to rural New Brunswick from Edmonton, Alberta. Though she had previously completed a Business Administration degree through the University of New Brunswick and ?worked for seven years in the credit industry? while in Edmonton, she found that ?there is limited call and limited salary for credit professionals in NB.? After having initially tried a New Brunswick CGA-designation program, Nixon found that AU classes were a better fit for her life, and enrolled in the University Certificate in Accounting program.
Nixon found the flexibility of the certificate program to be its greatest strength. Cheryl Christensen, Coordinator of Advising Services with the School of Business, meanwhile believes that ?the greatest strength of this credential is that it provides you with the basic accounting framework that will be needed as you further develop your accounting expertise.?
One aspect of the program which has both advantages and disadvantages is the manner in which it is administrated. School of Business courses at AU employ a call centre model, meaning that instead of having an individual tutor, as with classes in most other departments at AU, students must contact the call centre with their questions. Administrative questions can be answered within the call centre, but course-specific questions must be forwarded from the call centre to the appropriate academic, who then contacts the student.
The main drawback of the system is ?that the student does not have direct access to an academic and must wait to be contacted back.? Nixon says that the inability to contact professors directly was her least favourite part of the program. Because of this frustration, ?It’s gotten to the point that I rarely contact the call centre anymore,? she says.
The call centre model has a number of distinct benefits as well, though. ?The vast majority of administrative-type questions can be answered? by the call centre, Christensen explains, and ?any course-specific question you may have is directed to the most appropriate individual.? Furthermore, ?instead of having set dates and times to contact a tutor,? which many students find inconvenient, the call centre ?offers more flexible hours and operates every day but Saturday.?
Related programs offered by the School of Business using this model include the University Certificate in Advanced Accounting and the Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Accounting. Christensen says that the ?subject area of accounting has always been our most popular in the School of Business,? and the Certificate in Accounting program, in particular, ?can help those interested in a more basic accounting role within an organization.? It can also be used ?to further [a student’s] accounting career and to complete requirements necessary for a professional accounting designation such as a CA, CMA, or CGA.?
Even students planning to complete a full degree, such the Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Accounting, can benefit from taking this program, as completing the certificate first allows students to gain an additional credential along the way, just by ?completing the same courses you would if you were to start out in the Bachelor of Commerce degree.? Christensen advises that ?working in smaller steps can also help to keep a student motivated on their way towards their end goal of becoming a professional accountant.?
Overall, certainly an option worth looking into for those students considering a career or further studies in the field of accounting.