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Sydney Uni revamps accounting program to include AI


‘Gradual decline’ in enrolment prompts rethink of course components.

By Keonia Swift 12 minute read

Sydney University has given its masters accounting course an analytics focus that introduces artificial intelligence, big data and cloud-based technology to the postgraduate qualification for the first time.

Commencing in February next year, the new master of professional accounting and business performance would equip students with the skills and experience they needed for any firm, the university said.

The two-year course comprised 14 core units and two elective units selected from a wide range of Business School study options and included industry placements and projects.


With embedded analytics and digital know-how, the upgraded program would be among the leading professional accounting courses at Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities, a spokesperson said.

The program director of the master of professional accounting and business performance, Dr Rodney Coyte, said the comprehensive program restructure was designed to future-proof careers through two key areas attractive to employers.

“We will equip students with analytical and data skills, as well as being able to expertly analyse performance,” he said. “They'll be primed to contribute to the generation of business insights and inform rapid decision-making in response to markets.”

“The Business School's commitment to the Principles of Responsible Management Education means students will graduate in-demand and on track to become an ethical business leader. In addition, the program includes electives which offer the opportunity for work-integrated learning or industry placement experiences.”

Overall, graduates from the University of Sydney were named the most employable in Australia and fourth globally, according to the 2022 QS Graduate Employability Rankings.

Dr Coyte said demand for the Business School’s master of professional accounting was reflective of the broader international trend across enrolments in the accounting sector.

“At some stage almost every business, public sector unit or not-for-profit organisation requires the services of a professional accountant,” said Dr Coyte. “Despite this fact, enrolments into top-tier accounting programs have been gradually declining; a trend well-documented in the US, UK, Australia and indeed across the globe.”

“The work of professional accountants is changing rapidly, principally related to the application of data analytics and AI.”

“As many aspects of traditional accounting work become automated, the role of accountants is progressing to business partnering with senior management.”

The university said the goal of its master of professional accounting was to equip students with the skills and competencies needed for the contemporary and future role of professional accountants in practice.

“While accounting has always acted as the oil that lubricates the wheels of commerce, accountants are fast becoming ‘super-connectors’ in organisations,” Dr Coyte said.

“Professional accountants give meaning to data, especially internal organisational planning, and performance data. Key is their ability to both draw out important business insights and identify and design opportunities for business performance improvement.”

The program would include emotional intelligence, communication and persuasion — and introduce an accounting analytics spine that covered essential elements including artificial intelligence, big data and cloud-based accounting technology platforms, according to a University of Sydney spokesperson.

“Our redesign embeds the elements core to the success of the future professional accountant.”

The program is fully accredited by CPA Australia, CA ANZ and the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).

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Keonia Swift


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