We spoke to ACCA/Oxford Brookes student Tingting Liu, to find out why she pursued this route and how it helped kick start her career.
Why did you choose the ACCA Oxford Brookes BSc in Applied Accounting degree?
It wasn't a straightforward decision. Originally, I planned to take the ACCA exams all the way through to the end because I already have a degree.
However, I quit my full time job in 2016 and spent the past few years being a stay at home mum. I realised, especially after this pandemic, it wasn't very easy to get back into the workplace straightaway.
During this time I worried that I may not be able to complete the ACCA exams whilst balancing everything else. I was at the point where I didn't know where to go. I had second thoughts about my career development, but I felt like I needed something to show how hard I have worked in the last few years while also caring for two children.
The Oxford Brookes course was a good option because it would give me a conclusion to my studies. The ACCA Applied Knowledge and Skills exams I had completed to date would give me the opportunity to gain both an undergraduate degree from Oxford Brookes University and the ACCA professional qualification.
Why did you decide to have an online mentor with Kaplan?
I have some friends who are qualified accountants and considered speaking to them, but quickly realised I needed professional guidance. I don't doubt their quality as accountants, but I thought it might be difficult to have that kind of professional relationship with a friend. They might feel reluctant to give me their straightforward opinion.
So I looked online, and found Kaplan’s programme. I was really happy with it because that's what I needed. I needed someone to guide me through and give me professional advice.
How did you get organised and manage your time?
It took a bit of effort to be honest and I'm really grateful for Rachel, my mentor, she was amazing. I actually applied to the previous period, but then it was quite a difficult time. My mother in law passed away so I had lots of things going on at home. I couldn't really focus on the programme.
I spoke to Rachel, who was really kind and understanding. She told me to go back to her whenever I was ready. So after a few months I came back to it.
Rachel really understood my position as a mother and how we can struggle to put ourselves first. We have to know how to accommodate other things and she gave me a lot of opportunities so I could make it work with my home life.
Were there any other difficulties that you came across during your studies?
I found completing the final Skills and Learning Statement and balancing that with the organising of two children at home really hard. The time management was very tricky. I was quite far behind schedule, but Rachel was there. She was firm and helped me to stick to it.
I started thinking I've got to finish this or I would let myself down. I would feel so disappointed. So in the end I sent my final draft of my personal statement over only a week before the deadline. Rachel had to read everything and get back to me as soon as possible. She was really supportive.
Those final two weeks were really tough, but we made it in the end. It really felt like it was a team effort and I was grateful for her help. I don’t know if I would have met such a tight deadline without her.
What were your favourite elements of the course?
I think it was really a good opportunity for me to look into some of the areas of accounting I was interested in because, when I did the exams there wasn’t enough time to dig into each subject. But with this project, you really could look into a specific subject in more detail.
My subject of interest was corporate governance. I think I did so well in the project because of the fact that I really enjoyed it.
How did the course help you personally? And professionally?
I think my skills were quite rusty, as you can imagine as a stay at home mother. You have Word, Excel, and new updated versions of different programmes, so I really learned a lot from this project in terms of getting back into using these.
I also had to do a PowerPoint presentation and I was so nervous. Rachel was really supportive and I think that gave me a lot of confidence. After the presentation I felt I got a better idea of what I needed to improve on.
I was really surprised when I got my result, my daughter said “I've never seen you so happy mummy”. I finally thought these last few years have all been worth it, and I was really pleased with myself. It was a real confidence boost.
In terms of my career I think it's laid the foundation for my next step.
How has this helped you prepare for the future and get back into work?
I’ve learnt a lot on this journey such as: time management skills, how to organise myself and how to work under pressure. It's all these softer skills I acquired over the last few years and through this project that will definitely help me move forward.
Also, my confidence has definitely improved. Without this degree, I would probably still have a lot of self doubt especially when looking at what I can do next.
I’m 43 and I’ve realised it’s very tough to get back to the workplace. As a mum I think it's very difficult to get back into it, and many people won't know where to go or what to do next. However, a lot of them still have a lot of potential, so I would encourage them to try this route.
I'd definitely recommend the Oxford Brookes programme for someone who wants to start a new career. It's really a good way they can get the support and help you need to get the qualification completed.
Find out more about our ACCA/Oxford Brookes course
If you're interested in this course, visit our ACCA/Oxford Brookes BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting course page for more information.