Justin Kyriakou is a Regional Account Manager with the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) for the North West of England. Justin is working with the UK’s Post 92’ Universities to introduce them to the AAT offering.
In this article Justin speaks of how AAT has grown within the UK university system and how it enhances the university offering to give students viable skills valued by employers.
The inception of introducing AAT into the post 92 universities came after consulting with a couple of universities. From these discussions it was decided we would include elements of the AAT qualification in to their degree programme, for example our offering with the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).
We also found that universities were very interested in opportunities around AAT membership for undergraduates and graduates. From these talks it became evident that undergraduates considered AAT affiliation important when entering the job market. Financial Employers’ instantly recognise and value AAT membership. The prospect of obtaining the designatory letters (MAAT) upon graduation provides added value to their degree, demonstrating that they have reached an equivalent standard, along with work experience and professional competence.
In July 2012 we had agreements in place with six universities with the aim to develop a strand in which we could work alongside their degree programme, to see how AAT could enhance it and add value. There were many discussions about developing a membership strand which, as previously mentioned, was a big draw for the universities and students alike. The original six strands are still in place today, demonstrating the concrete connections we have made.
I’ve been in my role as a Regional Account Manager for two years with AAT. My engagement has primarily been to get to know the universities directly and understand how their degree programmes work. From developing these relationships I along with other AAT Regional Account Managers can work with the universities on a solution that will be best for them and their learners. About 35 universities are aware of the AAT offering. This is great because more university tutors understand our proposition and we can build on these discussions to carry on engagement.
So far our journey in tandem with the universities has been quite prosperous for prospects with many success stories coming to fruition upon the end of their qualification. The pace of success hasn’t subsided for our qualifications beginning in universities either with 11 new membership agreements in place with a further 14 in the pipeline.
Looking to the future
As we go on I expect universities to embrace the technical and employability elements that higher apprenticeships like the AAT qualification gives. Universities have to compete and show that their graduates are fit for purpose and by embedding these qualifications in to their degree programme they will be doing just that.
As universities become more responsive to their learners and the employers they end up working for, the AAT qualification and membership will become more and more important. We are already seeing this as students demand employability skills from universities and the competition from higher apprenticeships will only get stronger. The ability to work while learning is a huge draw for young people and is the chief reason for this competition and demand for places.
It can take quite a long time to get these projects up and running and we are in discussion with many universities at the moment. In terms of cost for these universities, any delivery will come as part of the overall package that they are charged. Currently they are charged a maximum of £9k per year and the learners fund these themselves via a student loan.
A great example of a positive engagement is with the University of Herts. They deliver AAT bookkeeping as part of their first term. This means that their learners gain a professional qualification in their first term. Not only that but they have bookkeeping skills and therefore have a technical grounding that will help their understanding and study throughout their time. Once they have this qualification it then helps them with their employment opportunities throughout their studies. It really is a win win for all involved, especially the undergraduates.
AAT Regional Account Manager Andrew Roberts-Morris wrote an article for AAT comment last month on, “Why learning later in life can tackle the skills shortage”. Catch this read via this link.
Justin Kyriakou is AAT's International Development Manager.