Artificial intelligence is an integral part of the UNI accounting curriculum
Artificial intelligence (AI) and accounting are becoming intricately interwoven. AI can do everything from using more than several dozen data points to analyze transactions, ensuring minute details and figures are correct, to actually learning and improving its own model as information builds.
Joseph Ugrin, who heads up UNIBusiness’ Department of Accounting, said incorporating AI, analytics and other technology-based topics into today’s accounting curriculum is essential. Not only does it prepare students for the modern-day accounting profession, but employers are actively searching for individuals who have a deep understanding of numbers and statistics.
Over the next 10 years, Forrester Research estimates that AI will take over up to 16% of jobs in the United States. Being analytically-literate will soon be an integral skill set, if it hasn’t already.
“Employers need people who can work in the middle and intelligently talk about both accounting and statistics,” Ugrin said. “What firms have found is that taking people with system skills and trying to teach them accounting is difficult. So they really desire accounting students with these additional systems skills. The more students have of those skills — like understanding the basics of data analytics, the programming languages that are used — the more they can work in between.”
It’s that shift that has led UNIBusiness to include analytics-based courses inside its core curriculum, allowing all students to be exposed to data interpretation. Undergraduate accounting students can expand on that in a core accounting information systems class. And in the accounting master’s degree program, business analytics in accounting is a required course.
Employers need people who can work in the middle and intelligently talk about both accounting and statistics."
For the first time, UNIBusiness is offering an overseas business analytics course in May 2020. Thanks to a partnership with the Rennes School of Business in Rennes, France, students will receive a certificate in AI Business and six college credits. The school is located two hours north of Paris and gives master’s and high-level undergraduate students a chance to gain valuable study abroad experience.
“With this, we get to kill two birds with one stone,” Ugrin said. “They can study abroad while picking up a skill set that will be a real differentiator for them in the marketplace. Employers seem to be very excited about it, and students are extraordinarily excited about it.”
The first cohort is already full, and students are actually rearranging their schedules to make this experience fit. The four-week course also has built-in time slots for students to explore France.
At the end of a UNIBusiness education, most students will have at least a basic background in business analytics. That will go a long way in their job searches and successes in the workplace.
“There is a market demand for people with this skill set,” Ugrin said. “The profession is migrating toward people that know how to integrate automation in the processes so that they can spend more time analyzing and making decisions. Having this skill set will set them apart.”