Worldwide Distance Learning
This month's featured article focuses on learning Accountancy. There will be many more courses to chose from in the near future.
Accounting By Distance Learning
Sarah Barrow University of Southern Queensland
Exciting, well-paid careers await these who qualify with an accounting degree, as many Australian graduates around the world have found. Graduates awarded a commerce degree from Australia's universities have found themselves employed In some of the world's major accounting firms In Interesting and challenging jobs.
Australia's commerce students have studied their accounting degree in countries as diverse as Germany, Singapore, Zimbabwe and Japan. Both Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Master of Professional Accounting degrees are offered both on-campus and by distance learning, by most universities around the world. Undergraduate Bachelor of Commerce students have the option of majors in accounting as well as combined accounting and finance or general commerce majors. The Master of Professional Accounting is a conversion course for people who do not have an accounting qualification. Frequently, potential overseas accounting students are confused about studying by distance education. Most students have only ever studied in face-to-face situations, and are not sure what is important to consider when choosing a distance learning program.
Is the university experienced in delivering distance education?
Universities with experience in distance education will have discovered how to provide their subjects successfully, and will have high quality notes and support for students.
What local support is offered?
The major problems faced by distance learning students are caused by isolation. These can be overcome where local support is offered for students. Students can resolve administrative problems, submit assignments and meet with other students at a local support office, and experienced universities have local support offices in , many overseas countries, providing high quality academic and administrative services to students.
What do I get for my fees?
Check to ensure that you will receive a comprehensive set of notes from the university, not just a syllabus outline, and ask to see a typical set of notes. Some courses provide CD Roms, internet delivery and video conferencing, with course material incluced in the fees, although other universitiesrequire students to pay extra for distance learning course material. Check on what is inluded in the course fees.
Can I contact the lecturers at the university directly?
It is important to ensure that you can contact your lecturers when you need to. Distance learning students are encouraged to voice any problems or questions they may have about the course, and with email, it is now fast and cheap, with response being equally easy.
Can I contact other students?
The advent of the Internet and e mail has led to great changes in the way distance education students can keep in touch with their peers. Look out for newsgroups for students, where they can interact with others, both on-campus and other distance learning students. Of course, the lecturers also use the newsgroups to communicate with students. Through local overseas agents, students often have direct interaction with others on their course through local tutorials, as well as telephone tutorials, video conferences and visits by Australian staff.
Is the degree recognised by the relevant professional bodies?
Students intending to join a professional body on graduating must make certain that the degree they will receive is recognised by the professional body before commencing study. Check that courses are accredited by both the Australian Society of CPAs and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Graduates will be automatically recognised by these professional bodies.
How flexible Is the degree?
Sometimes students who commence study by distance learning find that their circumstances change, and they want to continue study in Australia on-campus. Many universities now allow students to transfer from on-campus to distance learning or vice versa, because on-campus students' curriculum, assignments and exams are exactly the same as those used by distance learning students. This gives students the opportunity to experience life in Australia and make many new friends.
Are course materials up to date?
A course such as accounting must be based on laws, standards and practices which are currently used in business. Universities must ensure that their material is updated regularly, sometimes each semester, to make sure students are taught skills and knowledge which will be relevant to their employment.
Can I fast-track my study?
Students who want to fast-track their degree can do so by studying all year round over three semesters. However, work or family commitments can mean a student needs to defer their study for a short period. This is usually easy to do, as most subjects are offered more than twice a year, allowing them to be picked up later. Distance education provides a flexible way to learn in your own time. Family and work commitments are combined more readily with distance education than with class attendance. Whether you seek advancement or new career opportunities in your life, the time may now be right for you to consider studying an accounting degree by distance learning.
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