14 November 2023 

Written by Milpark Communications 

During 2023, Milpark Education welcomed two cohorts of first-year students to its newly launched BCom in Accounting degree. In just three months' time, the second-year modules will be rolled out. This is an exciting new chapter for Milpark, as it pursues its vision of a more engaging and challenging degree than traditional accounting courses. The entire three-year degree consists of 30 modules that run along four core themes. The themes are Strategy and Leadership, Risk and Governance, Reporting and Compliance, and Analysis and Decision-Making. 

Dr Judith Terblanche, the Head of BCom Development at Milpark, says the BCom in Accounting degree is based on the CA of the Future framework (CA2025), which encourages higher education institutions to cultivate chartered accountant (CA) graduates that could be responsible and just social leaders of the future. Terblanche obtained her PhD in Philosophy of Education, which she describes as a "transformative educational experience," and incorporated some of the learnings into the design and development of the BCom in Accounting. "We are building it from scratch. There's a significant difference when you have something and you try to make changes to it versus having a clean slate and building it from the bottom up. This is why it was such an exciting opportunity to join Milpark because I feel like I'm now implementing some of my research and programme development experience." 

Four essential criteria for this degree are firstly, to offer the learning in such a way that students are able to apply their technical skills and knowledge when they enter the job market. It is more than just a theoretical degree, as our aim is to offer students practical exposure to the business context and relevant applications.  

"[The students have found] that the journey is challenging yet rewarding – which is good, because you want students to be stretched. It's how we grow; it's how we transform." Terblanche also highlights the case study nature of how some of the content is presented, which offers opportunities to develop a decision-making ability. "[For example], given a particular context, students are encouraged to make a decision to accept or reject an order. As more transactions and information are revealed over the course of a few weeks, students face the consequences of the decisions they have made. In some instances, opting for the order might result in students’ fictional companies going bust. We really want them to see the implications and consequences of making decisions two or three weeks down the line." 

Secondly, we teach the technical content within a values dimension. "The opportunity we've got now is ... to see how we use the technical content to achieve more than mere technical competencies. So, how do we ensure that the full humanity of the student is developed? How do we make sure that, through the content, curiosity is provoked? [How] are we able to help the student to notice more social injustice and to create social awareness?"  

Thirdly, an essential aspect of offering the qualification in a unique manner is the emphasis on building a community of co-belonging among students and lecturers. Lecturers care and present their real self to the students. "We really want to achieve [an environment] where we meet each other as equal beings. It's not [the] lecturer [who] knows everything and the student that knows nothing. Students and lecturers come into the learning space with their lived experience and embodied knowledge. When we meet each other as equals, space for reflexivity is created.”  

Lastly, we believe in assessments that are broader than just time-measured written tests. From year two onwards, students will participate in group and individual projects. “We use case studies, assignments and research projects, in addition to traditional written tests.” Terblanche adds that the staff would like to see students use critical thinking to answer questions that they have, instead of reciting a list of studied material given by the lecturers simply to pass their exams. 

All-in-all though, Terblanche believes that this degree is a standout. "We offer our whole degree in [the form of] a fictional business. We ask, as the business owner, how will this influence you? Or what would the considerations or decisions be when facing a challenge, and what are the implications of making such decisions? Because our focus is on the understanding of content for the purpose of application, rather than memorising content or calculations to pass a test, students will be in a much closer, ready-for-work position." 

Applications and registration for the Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting degree at Milpark are now open for incoming first-year students and will close in February 2024.