Accountancy lecturer wins top industry award for exceptional teaching

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Rebecca Wright, lecturer in Professional Accountancy at the University of South Wales (USW), has won the 2021 PQ Magazine Lecturer of the Year Award in the public sector category.

The award, announced last night (Thursday 29 April) at a virtual ceremony, recognises Rebecca’s unwavering support of her students and her inspirational teaching style.

PQ Magazine is a national title aimed at part-qualified accountants, and its annual awards recognise the best in the field of professional accounting education. Rebecca, 37, topped the shortlist of nominees from universities across the UK.

Having joined USW five years ago as a lecturer, she was previously an exceptional student in both ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and ICAEW (Instituteof Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) at the university – two courses she now teaches on – after deciding to return to higher education.

“When I left school, I started off studying Architectural Engineering and hated it,” said Rebecca, who lives in Pontcanna, Cardiff with her husband Mike and 12-year-old twin daughters, Daisy and Amelia.

“I left university at 20, then found myself at a crossroads. Then I got married and had the girls, and later decided to go into Accountancy at the age of 26. It totally changed my life as it gave me an entirely new direction.

“It was really tough at times – I was working full time in an accountancy practice and the twins were just 2 years old when I started my ACCA course, but I was able to get through it with the amazing support of my husband. He is my biggest supporter and gave me unquestioned time to study and focus on my qualifications. When I achieved my ACCA certificate, it felt like an achievement for the both of us.”

Having been where her students are now, Rebecca has made every effort to check in on their wellbeing, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when they made the sudden switch to online learning.

“Students’ mental health is so important, and I’m so concerned about them and the pressure they put on themselves, because that can be quite isolating. I’ve met students in my garden for coffee and just tried to keep in touch with them so that they have someone there. If I believe in them, they should believe in themselves too,” she said.

It was just this sort of care for her students that saw Dr Jared Davies, Academic Subject Manager for Professional Education at USW, nominate Rebecca for the Lecturer of the Year award.

He said: “Rebecca is, quite simply, an exceptional lecturer – and human dynamo – who cares passionately about her students and their success. We had spotted Rebecca’s teaching potential while she was a student with us, as she was quick to form study groups and support and coach her fellow students.

“Rebecca showed immense enthusiasm and talent from the off as a new lecturer; she was soon gathering excellent reviews from students, as evidenced by Student Choice Award nominations in 2018 and 2019. She has since become both our ICAEW Taxation tuition specialist and the ICAEW Course Leader and she has grabbed both these challenges with typical Rebecca aplomb.

“This award is richly deserved given the outstanding support that Rebecca gives to our ICAEW and ACCA students. Well done Rebecca!”

Rebecca added: “I feel immensely flattered to be recognised in this way. I see my involvement in the students’ journey as a real honour. I’m so proud of how they have carried on and coped so incredibly well during this tough time.

“Professional Accountancy is a great accreditation to have because it opens so many doors and takes them wherever they want to go. I also get to see the change in students’ professional maturity and development as people. To be witness to that is so special.

“I would love to have attended the usual extravagant PQ Magazine awards ceremony, but Covid-19 unfortunately meant it was an online event this year. I’ll look forward to receiving my trophy in the post instead.

“After receiving the award, my dad – who is also an accountant and introduced me to the world of accountancy – immediately turned up at my doorstep with flowers and champagne to celebrate. I am very grateful that he believed in me and gave me a fantastic opportunity to become a qualified accountant.”