When principal lecturer Mig Farinas-Almeida was searching for best practice in computerised accounting, he looked no further than the IAB.
Mig has been running undergraduate programmes at the University of Greenwich for more than 10 years.
As part of the Sage and Microsoft programmes, he wanted to beef up the computerised accounting element.
“We looked for best practice and started modelling on the IAB,’ he says. “I told them I would love to give our students the opportunity to study for the IAB Level 2 Award in Computerised Bookkeeping.”
That initial conversation some 10 years ago began a fruitful partnership that continues to this day.
Students have done so well in recent years that the university was presented with a coveted IAB Gold Centre award in the House of Commons in 2016.
The IAB programme is part of a core module in the university’s BA degree courses in Accounting and Finance, and Accounting and Financial Systems.
Between them, some 150 second-year students have the opportunity to sit the exam annually, with more than 500 having taken it since Mig introduced it in 2007.
The early pass rate was relatively low at 65%, but with experience, better results were achieved and now stands at 80%, with half a dozen students achieving a phenomenal 100% in the last couple of years.
Dealing with the IAB was “really straightforward, no hassle,” Mig says. He admits there were teething problems on the university’s part. “We did not appreciate how much printing would be involved.”
He solved the problem by asking students to download their answers to a memory stick and arranging for a technician to do the printing. “But check what’s on the memory stick first,” Mig advises. The printing issue may become a thing of the past when IAB moves to online assessment.
Mig concedes that the exam is a small part of the degree course but an “essential building block.”
“Bookkeeping knowledge is vital in the work of an accountant. It does all debtor and creditor control, all the vital elements of business management. Everything accountants do is under-pinned by double entry bookkeeping. If you don’t understand bookkeeping, you will be lost. “
Mig estimates that students taking the IAB programme perform better by around 12 percentage points in their overall Computerised Accounting module examinations.
He puts that partly down to students choosing to take the qualification and paying for it. He believes their decision makes them more motivated. Students pay £75 to join the IAB and sit the assessments and exam.
He is convinced it also gives them the “X-Factor,” with those sitting it showing “a little more drive and commitment to perform better and gain a certificate.”
Mig is conscious that cost can deter some students from a disadvantaged background. He would love the university to fund – or part-fund – the IAB exam but it just does not have the resources.
He would like to offer the IAB Level 3 Certificate in Computerised Bookkeeping and Accounting on the degree course but there is just not enough space. However, students have the option to take it in their own time outside the university.
From a career perspective, Mig believes the IAB Level 2 Certificate in Computerised Bookkeeping offers “a high level of recognition from employers.”
An annual satisfaction survey has consistently found that students enjoyed the second year and the opportunity to take a professional exam.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that a national student survey ranked Greenwich among the top 10 universities offering accounting degrees.
Mig has nothing but praise for the IAB. “Our partnership has gone smoothly from the beginning, giving our students an edge both at university and in their career.”
Mig was born in Portugal, moving with his family to the UK when he was seven. His father was a mining engineer and worked in Cornwall.
Mig went on to work in property and financial recovery before taking a degree in accounting. He took a Master’s in Financial Information Systems at the University of Greenwich where he has stayed ever since.
“STUDENTS WILL BE THE WINNERS” – IAB PLEDGE TO CENTRES OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Malcolm Trotter, IAB chief executive, is so pleased with the flourishing partnership between the IAB and the University of Greenwich that he believes it is a role model that others might like to consider.
“We are delighted to work with the University of Greenwich and welcome the chance to work with other centres of higher education.
“I believe our examination helps with academic learning and gives context to that learning. It also increases employability and can help students to work part-time while they are studying.”
Malcolm added: “Gaining an IAB certificate shows employers the student has reached a national standard and can help them progress to a successful career. This is their stepping stone to being a good accountant.
“By embedding the IAB programme within their degree, universities will give students the essential deeper understanding and application of what they’re learning.
“At the same time, they should perform better in their accounting degree as well as giving them greater job potential, either during their degree or when they’ve completed it.”