As aspiring business leaders climb the corporate ladder in today’s globalised, rapidly-changing world, the skill sets they require stretch far beyond traditional number crunching, to being able to think strategically and make sustainable, future-orientated decisions.
That is why Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University‘s School of Accounting and the University’s Business School have paired up to offer South African individuals and companies something unique: a sure-fire way to help themselves develop critical business knowledge and skills, which fall under the banner of management accounting.
They have developed 17 accredited short learning programmes (SLPs), which are specifically linked to the internationally-renowned Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualifications.
These CIMA-aligned SLPs – and the partnership between the two NMMU Schools and CIMA – were officially launched on 11 April.
NMMU is presently the only South African university to run accredited CIMA-aligned SLPs, which cover topics such as project management, relationship management, strategic management, risk management and financial strategy.
“CIMA bridges the gap between education and employment,” said Doug Withington, CIMA’s Higher Education Partnership Manager for Southern Africa, who flew in from London for the event. He described the close collaboration between the NMMU School of Accounting and the NMMU Business School as “bringing together those with technical accounting skills and those with business skills”.
These courses, which start in May, essentially get students ready to write CIMA’s business-relevant examinations, a requirement for becoming a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), a designation which is highly respected worldwide.
“Students who are working find it difficult to complete the CIMA qualifications [completed online] on their own,” said Zahra Cassim, Head of CIMA South Africa. “Our vision and mission is to help people in businesses to succeed. We want to provide the skills and competencies to grow the community of management accountants.”
At Monday’s launch, Cassim announced that CIMA has endorsed this initiative and now recognises NMMU as a “Global Learning Partner”, following an assessment by the institute based on CIMA’s global tuition standards.
NMMU also has a “Tier 1” status from CIMA, meaning that many of the University’s formal degree programmes are of such high calibre that NMMU graduates obtain exemptions from certain CIMA examinations.
“Those writing the CIMA-aligned SLPs will not be exempt from CIMA examinations, but will be better prepared for them,” said NMMU Associate Professor in Management Accounting, Johnathan Dillon, who has been the key driver of the SLP programmes. “These programmes provide a structured framework that will support CIMA candidates … I believe the partnership between the School of Accounting, the Business School and CIMA will provide relevant education that changes business, for the good, in South Africa and beyond.”
The outcomes and content of the SLPs are exactly aligned to CIMA’s Qualification Framework, and make use of official CIMA study material and textbooks.
Monday’s launch took place at the NMMU Business School, which is the only green-star rated public education building on the African continent. “The School is in favour of and supports sustainable practices,” said Business School Director Prof Steve Burgess. “Our vision is to be the business school of choice in Africa, a trendsetter … and to partner with leading organisations. We welcome the collaboration with the School of Accounting and CIMA.”
The Business School is ranked third in South Africa and seventh in Africa for its MBA programme.
“We see CIMA as a highly-regarded professional accounting body internationally. For a lot of our students, it’s an exciting new pathway for them to pursue,” said Prof Frans Prinsloo, Director of the School of Accounting, which was placed first in the country in the January 2015 South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) Qualifying Examination Part 1. NMMU is also one of the leading SAICA-accredited universities.
Prof Prinsloo said management accounting – with its focus on strategic thinking and sustainability – was particularly relevant to the requirements of today’s rapidly-changing job market. “Rapid change is the new normal … To be a successful accounting professional in today’s business world, you need to think both about the forces shaping the organisations that you are serving, as well as how you, and the finance function, can add value to your organisation. In this regard, the knowledge and skills developed by the CIMA qualification will be of great value.”
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