Audit and Accounting at the University of Melbourne: Blending Theory, Practice and Tech

Wayne Coetzee, Teaching Fellow at the University of Melbourne, unveils the university’s bold move in revolutionising accounting education.

Younger generations often shy away from pursuing a career in accounting which is often regarded as “boring”. The profession faces a challenge as powerful AI emerges, bringing both opportunities and concerns for auditors and accountants. Although AI can enhance efficiency, there is an underlying fear of it replacing the crucial human touch in the field. This hesitation among aspiring students has prompted an urgent restructuring of accounting education by university leaders to incorporate AI.

To address the issue, the University of Melbourne decided to shake things up in the accounting and audit department by revamping its Workshop Program, giving students a whole new perspective on real-world scenarios. The workshops are loaded with exciting stuff like constitution summaries, breaking news clips, internal management communications, ASX listings, Management buy-outs and various other situations that a newly graduated student may encounter.

But here’s the kicker – they’ve gone all out by creating a custom website for each workshop. It’s not your typical classroom setup; these resources are designed to be more interactive and visually stimulating, pushing students to dive deep into case studies and spark some serious critical discussions. A great way to help them understand clients from all angles. They’re learning to connect the dots between different sources of evidence, spot risks, and see the subtle connections – basically, preparing them for the real deal after graduation.

This curriculum overhaul covers all 12 workshops in undergraduate audit subjects at the University of Melbourne. The feedback from students has been off-the-charts positive. They’re loving the new format and the university is super confident in its effectiveness.

The University of Melbourne teamed up with edtech experts like Quitch, bringing in gamified content to make things more interesting. Quitch’s app-based platform has garnered significant attention, with timed releases and interactive quizzes making their way into the curriculum.

In recent years, the university went on a collaboration with Caseware to tackle the gap between student knowledge and professional skills. The university wants graduates to be ready for the workforce, not just armed with theoretical knowledge. The result? A complete revamp of a major assessment piece incorporating real-world data, real-world technology and partnering with real-world auditors. This authentic assessment redevelopment required the
university to partner with a Melbourne-based, not-for-profit organisation to get their hands on real financial and non-financial data. Integrating this with Caseware’s platform wasn’t a walk in the park, but after some solid collaboration, they nailed it.

The university brought in Pitcher Partners, the actual auditors of the not-for-profit organisation, to give students a taste of the real deal. This combination of real auditors, actual software and real financial and non-financial data aimed to bridge that gap between theory and practice.

Student feedback has been positive. Interviews and assessments show that students love hands-on experience and apply theoretical concepts in real-world scenarios. This initiative is giving them skills and getting them ready for the professional world.

The University of Melbourne’s proactive approach to redefining accounting education showcases adaptability in the accounting profession. Strategic collaborations and innovative teaching methods are setting students up for success, balancing tech advancements while keeping that human touch in decision-making processes.

Watch Wayne Coetzee’s full presentation here.