How University of Melbourne is making accounting real for students
The University of Melbourne is one of Australia’s oldest and most reputable tertiary institutions. Located in the heart of Melbourne, the university’s main campus enrolls close to 50,000 students in law, business, arts, media, economics, and engineering. The school partners with leading institutes and research centers and has been recognized as one of the world’s top 50 universities.
“Automation Anywhere University has been an incredibly stabilizing tool for empowering our educators, managers, employees, and students. It has significantly helped accelerate RPA adoption, reduced costs, and maximized our technology investment. We feel AAU courses combined with our shared knowledge will provide students a great view of RPA and will be beneficial for them as they progress in their careers.”
— Shiv Chandra, Robotic Process Automation Manager
AHEAD OF THE CLASS
As the university began developing its RPA program a few years ago, the success achieved with automation caught the attention of educators in the Accounting Department. Shiv Chandra, Robotic Process Automation Manager and Michael Davern, Professor of Accounting and Business Information Systems, had the idea to incorporate RPA into the curriculum. Joined by Matt Dyki, Teaching Fellow and Maggie Singorahardjo, Accounting Teaching Specialist, the group began more detailed discussions around the legal and partnership requirements needed to inject the technology into current courses.
Further leveraging its relationship with Automation Anywhere, the University of Melbourne formed an academic partnership with AAU to help prepare and equip faculty and students for automation and digital transformation.
During a recent semester, 440 accounting students completed an AAU business analyst module to get hands-on experience with RPA. After completing the course, they attended a guest lecture and tutorial activity where they put the terminology they just learned into use. The class made for an interesting discussion about where they thought automation could be implemented and reinforced creating a bot was possible even without an IT background.
ON COURSE FOR THE FUTURE
Over the last year of teaching, it became clear to the educators in the department the accounting space was changing. New subjects were introduced into the curriculum to help students think forward. The first topic was related to blockchain, a shared, fixed ledger for recording transactions and tracking assets. After a short time, however, it became apparent it provided useful mechanics but did not have the impact behind it.
Meanwhile, the talk around RPA in accounting was ramping up significantly. Following the lead of the school’s RPA team as well as going on the advice of other industry insiders, the shift was made to refocus learnings to RPA. It was determined automation would have a much bigger impact on the students’ career path and the future of the industry.
The university is looking to expand its RPA course offerings within accounting and see if other departments on campus could benefit from a partnership with AAU as well.
There have also been discussions about rewarding top student performers with the opportunity to work with the school’s RPA team to get some hands-on, real-world experience.
“Understanding financial information process and controls is really hard and can be abstract. Working with a bot provides a visual and more concrete learning experience. It’s about making accounting real for our students.”
— Michael Davern, Professor of Accounting & Business Information Systems
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