A view from SA’s ac­count­ing body

This is in re­sponse to the opin­ion piece ( Why you should think twice be­fore go­ing for that ac­count­ing de­gree) by econ­o­mist Jo­han Fourie which was pub­lished on 20 Jan­uary on Fin­week.com

Finweek English Edition - - RIGHT OF REPLY -

The model used for ed­u­cat­ing char­tered ac­coun­tants [CAs(SA)] in South Africa was de­vel­oped over many years and the process was one in which the uni­ver­si­ties par­tic­i­pated fully on a vol­un­tary ba­sis. The aca­demic pro­gramme to­gether with the train­ing pro­gramme has re­mained dy­namic and re­spon­sive to the needs of the econ­omy, see­ing many mi­nor and ma­jor changes over the years. CAs(SA) have en­joyed an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion through­out the world for many decades. SA has a very strong ac­count­ing and au­dit­ing pro­fes­sion (The World Eco­nomic Fo­rum has rated SA num­ber one for au­dit­ing and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing in its world com­pet­i­tive­ness re­port for the last four years) and there is a strong de­mand for CAs(SA). We live in a dy­namic eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, which re­quires that ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing re­main re­spon­sive to the needs of the econ­omy – the South African In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants (SAICA) to­gether with the uni­ver­si­ties en­sures that the ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and assess­ment pro­cesses re­main rel­e­vant to the needs of SA.

It is our view that many of the ‘al­le­ga­tions’ are un­founded, in­ac­cu­rate and one sided. While we wel­come con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, it is im­por­tant that prospec­tive stu­dents are not mis­in­formed.

Al­low me to elu­ci­date: “Ac­count­ing de­grees should not be a de­fault op­tion for most of SA’s bright­est kids.” South African learn­ers are the ‘new gen­er­a­tion’ of young­sters who are smart and they are mostly aware of the ca­reer paths that are open to them. It would be grossly er­ro­neous to un­der­es­ti­mate their in­tel­li­gence, es­pe­cially as far as ca­reer choice goes. SAICA uses a tar­geted mar­ket­ing strategy to at­tract tal­ented learn­ers to the pro­fes­sion, given the chronic short­age of char­tered ac­coun­tants. SAICA is com­pet­ing to se­cure a share of the limited pool of can­di­dates who achieve over 60% in core maths (only about 15.6% of the 2013 matrics who wrote the maths pa­per met this re­quire­ment).

“Ac­count­ing de­part­ments in SA are per­fectly po­si­tioned to de­liver stu­dents ca­pa­ble of think­ing out­side the box.” I couldn’t agree more! But there are many chal­lenges be­ing faced in the ter­tiary en­vi­ron­ment today, de­spite aca­demics be­ing pas­sion­ate about their call­ing to the academe, their best in­ten­tions, well-de­signed pro­grammes and cour­ses. Aca­demics are torn be­tween fulfilling univer­sity re­quire­ments for re­search and hav­ing lit­tle time to do so be­cause of these other chal­lenges. SAICA agrees that ap­pro­pri­ate re­search and schol­ar­ship are crit­i­cal to a high-per­form­ing ac­count­ing depart­ment and SAICA con­tin­ues to en­cour­age uni­ver­si­ties to find ways to meet both ob­jec­tives.

“The cur­rent ac­count­ing syl­labus does not al­low stu­dents to de­velop the skills nec­es­sary for top-level man­agers.” Qual­i­fy­ing as a CA(SA) re­quires more than just com­plet­ing four years at univer­sity (three­year un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree and the post­grad­u­ate year that fol­lows). The sub­se­quent three-year train­ing pro­gramme that fol­lows the four years of aca­demic study is a pe­riod in which prospec­tive CAs(SA) fur­ther de­velop and garner ex­pe­ri­ence that en­hances the build­ing blocks that have been de­vel­oped through the univer­sity de­gree. Fur­ther than that, as pro­fes­sion­als, CAs(SA) are re­quired to con­tinue to de­velop and en­hance their com­pe­tence through ap­pro­pri­ate con­tin­u­ing pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment rel­e­vant to the role they un­der­take, post qual­i­fi­ca­tion. The abil­ity to be a life-long learner is one that is en­trenched through the ini­tial sev­enyear qual­i­fi­ca­tion process.

Qual­i­fi­ca­tion as a CA(SA) is not solely re­lated to com­pe­tence. It is also the cul­mi­na­tion of ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and assess­ment pro­cesses aimed at as­sess­ing the com­bi­na­tion of in­tel­lect, ap­ti­tude and the abil­ity to re­spond to de­mand­ing sit­u­a­tions. It is clear that the ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion is a dy­namic one and once these skills are en­trenched in the per­sona

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