The world is entering a period of significant change. Whether it be exponential changes in use, application, and power of technology, climate change, or expected shift in the political and social sphere, the influence of the change has a fundamental impact on all aspects of modern life, both personal and professional. Most of these changes have been brought about by the fourth industrial revolution. A revolution in which new technologies or novel ways of perceiving the world trigger changes in economic and social structures. Thus, also have an impact on our value and belief systems and will require that some existing ideas, theories, and beliefs be revised.
Globally and in South African, society has demanded a shift in priorities to Transformation. Transformation can be viewed as systemic, which implies transformation of and through the organisation contributing to the transformation of society. Transformation of the organisation and transformation through the organisation are interrelated and mutually constitutive, particularly with the global shift in public pedagogies towards decolonisation, indigenisation, and desegregation.
In recent years, there has been a shift away from maximising short-term profit at all costs to creating shareholder value, with the focus of forward-looking firms falling on considering the stakeholders and those in the ecosystem in which organisations find themselves. This impacts how organisations do business and how they report to stakeholders.
There has also been a change in how the interaction with stakeholders and society can be viewed. Organisations, and universities, have moved away from 'community service' to wanting to make a societal impact through everything they do. In a university context, this extends to the research conducted and the attributes developed in the students delivered to the marketplace. These attributes include an enquiring mindset; an engaged citizen; a dynamic professional; while being a well-rounded individual. In response, the School of Accountancy strives to deliver a graduate to the market who is an ethically responsible leader who can fulfill their social mandate by using integrated thinking to create sustainable value. We regard both technical knowledge and non-technical (soft) skills as critical in our teaching approach.
To make a 'tangible social impact' is embedded in the vision of the School of Accountancy, and, as such, is included in teaching, learning, and assessment design. The notion of social impact is incorporated into the SOA curriculum through the School's teaching philosophy, which is student-centered, rather than knowledge-centered to ensure graduates are able to engage the issues of their time. Some examples of how the curriculum is being reformed and renewed to deliver students with the appropriate graduate attributes for societal impact include:
- A continuous process whereby the School equips lecturers to be able to integrate the required non-technical skills (i.e. graduate attributes) into their modules. Such upskilling occurs through colloquia and ad hoc workshops where experts provide training to lecturers.
- In line with a scholarly approach to teaching, colleagues are encouraged to be innovative in their teaching materials and approaches, and then reflect on the effectiveness of their innovations. At the end of every year, an internal mini-conference is organised where colleagues can then share their novel ideas and practices. The aim is to spark similar ideas in other colleagues who present different modules and encourage staff to engage in scholarly activities, such as research, while they innovate.
- Staff take part in the Communities of Best Practice on teaching and learning, assessment, business acumen, digital acumen, critical thinking, ethics and public sector initiated by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). They work together with staff from other universities to create knowledge on how to integrate these aspects into the academic programme and develop graduates with the necessary attributes.
- Given the increasing importance of digital acumen, two digital acumen modules focusing on automation and programming as well as data analytics has been developed.
- In line with the value of life-long learning, it is deemed important to also place the responsibility for self-development on the students themselves. Therefore, students in the SAICA-accredited programmes are required to compile a portfolio of evidence relating to each of the values and acumens in SAICA's new CA2021 competency framework.
Interested parties can obtain further information about the teaching and learning philosophy, from:
Prof. Kobus van Schalkwyk
Tel: +27 21 808-3889