University embraces cloud accounting

July 2012

University of the Free State (UFS) has implemented Pastel’s My Business Online – its first foray into cloud-based training.

Second year accounting students at UFS have long been required to take a semester-length computer course, which includes training on an accounting program to enhance their practical skills. This is in line with the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) prerequisite that university students have access to computerised accounting methods because it’s a key requirement in the job market after graduation.

Accounting lecturer at UFS, Cornelie Crous, says: “Most of the accountants in South Africa use Pastel, which is why we have made it part of our computer course. It makes sense for the students to gain the skills they are most likely to use later on.” Since 1998, the university had been using Pastel Partner but this year decided to give cloud technology a try so moved to Pastel’s My Business Online.

From the lecture hall to beyond

With My Business Online, no installation is required and once you have access, users always work on the most current version. So, the university just had to pay the yearly subscription fee for its students, who could then log on immediately and access their full range of accounting tools.

The program accounts for 30% of the accounting faculty’s second year computer course with the rest of the time made up of theory, a background on accounting hardware and software, maintenance, and general accounting principles behind computer applications. My Business Online may be simple to use but is comprehensive enough to support the faculty’s auditing module, which deals with computerised and application controls.

“Usually between 300-500 students sign up for the course each year and this year we had 510 students enrolled!”
Pastel also provided its My Business Online training course to all students who registered for the module, “This freed up lecturers’ time; we left it all up to Pastel’s excellent trainers,” says Ms. Crous. Students are expected to attend a three hour Pastel training session and were then required to read through the My Business Online study guide and complete practical problems in their own time.
The great thing about learning accounting online is that students can teach themselves from anywhere – home, their residence or even a coffee shop -  as long as there’s an internet connection they just log on to the system with their username and password. “My Business Online is really intuitive to learn and students picked it up in no time.”

Perfect pass rates

At the end of the semester, students complete the My Business Online assessment test and the pilot group achieved a 92% pass rate. The university is looking at modifying the program to create a more in-depth and challenging version for senior level students and is working with Pastel to create an appropriate assessment for this.

Aside from a few IT glitches relating to bandwidth during the exam, the university is happy with the overall results particularly because since moving into the cloud, there has not been a single need to make the call for backup or support.