Insight on Problems faced by an ACCA Student in Nepal
ACCA at a glimpse
Founded in 1904, ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), is the world’s largest and fastest growing professional accountancy bodies. This is evidenced by the fact that ACCA operates in more than 173 countries with over 500,000 students and members. ACCA is a globally recognized accounting qualification from a British Chartered body for students aiming to progress into one of the most sought-after careers. ACCA works through a network of more than 100 offices and centers and more than 7,100 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide employee development. ACCA is becoming truly a global qualification and has recently reached a new milestone achievement: accreditation from the United Nations. ACCA qualification is designed to teach students the accounting knowledge, skills and professional values that will give them the opportunity to build a successful career across any sector anywhere. ACCAs are presently working in diverse sectors ranging from banks and financial institutions to other major corporate houses all over the globe. ACCAs are recognized globally. It is often said that ACCA students are global students. ACCA is a global qualification with its members working for and adding value to employers in many different parts of the world. Candidates not only gain specialist knowledge in finance and accounting, but also acquire valuable skills in organizational management. The qualification does not concentrate only on theory, and unlike many Universities, prepares a graduate for practical world. ACCA Professional qualification is of a high standard and is also equivalent to completing full University Degree.
Moreover, ACCA exams are flexible. Subjects need not be passed in groups as in other accountancy bodies. The maximum number of papers that can be sat for in one sitting is restricted to four and the minimum number of papers depends upon examinee’s own convenience. That is to say, if a student wishes to sit for only one paper, he can do so. Furthermore, there is a strong focus on professional values, ethics and governance. This is essential because the profession is moving towards strengthened codes of conduct, regulation and legislation.
Career development is a lifelong process of engaging in the daily grind of work world through choosing among various available employment opportunities made available to the community. The career choice that young adults make is embedded in their perceptions of the “ideal job” and their career decision making maturity. However, it is disheartening to see that when it comes to Career prospects, many Nepalese youth lack the required level of awareness regarding the scope of professional accountancy, especially ACCA, as a career choice. Even if they are aware, they choose not to opt this particular field as their career choice the reasons being stated below in detail.
The grievances of ACCA students in Nepal
While ACCA Professional Scheme is a highly-evolved course with combination of exams, professional ethics module and practical experience, being an ACCA student in Nepal is quite another story.
There are increasing numbers of ACCA Learning providers in Nepal these days. This means that students can achieve international degrees from national ground. However, the major issue regarding ACCA in context of Nepal is that ACCAs in Nepal are not entitled to hold Certificate of Practice (COP).
Every student in Nepal pursuing ACCA Qualification wants to have a future full of success. But large number of students are also worried and are wondering whether they made the right choice. The first problem is that ACCA is a difficult and expensive course. In a country where majority of people still have a plight of not being able to meet their hands to mouth, it is difficult for many families to gather sufficient funds for ACCA registration ,exams , tuition fees and study materials which has to be paid in amounts equivalent to UK pounds. Even for students who can afford the course, the level of difficulty of papers is so high that they need to appear for many re-exams thus making the cost to complete the course very high. Another difficulty that ACCA students face is that audit firms in Nepal prefer ICAN students as audit trainees to ACCA students thus making it very difficult to get internship opportunities here. There are many students who are unable to join audit firms to further their performance objective requirements which has to be completed to obtain the esteemed ACCA membership. Even if ACCA students are lucky enough to get into a good audit firm, when they are finally out competing for jobs in the market as professional accountants, the level of salary they get is lower than their ICAN counterparts. When applying for membership, ACCA asks for bachelor’s degree equivalence from Tribhuwan University, but for the past few years Tribhuwan University hasn’t been providing the equivalence certificate on the grounds that ACCA is a “distant education qualification”. This makes it difficult for ACCAs if they wish to apply in Government sectors. Needless to say, there is no proper recognition for ACCAs in Nepal as of yet. Many people still do not know what ACCA is and what their scope of work is. Nepal lacks proper and well equipped learning providers and the ACCA learning providers that are available are still unable to match up with the students’ need of qualified lecturers in comparison to other countries. So many students go abroad to further their studies in hope of better career growth and development. Large number of students are going abroad to study or continue their ACCA studies in foreign countries – most notable destinations are UK, Canada and Malaysia while most ACCA affiliates and members go to foreign countries in hope of better pay and opportunities. Moreover as mentioned earlier, ACCA students are not entitled to hold Certificate of Practice here in Nepal. ACCA has its own separate syllabus followed worldwide which does not incorporate Nepali tax laws and regulations. Having to work in Nepali market with less or no knowledge of Nepali tax laws is a drawback for ACCAs. Thus employers tend to prefer ICAN students with more knowledge on Nepalese taxation and laws. ICAN rule regarding granting membership to ACCA is another difficulty that they face. Many employers list CA, ACCA, CPA as their requirement and add membership from ICAN as the additional requirement which ACCAs do not obtain easily thus making them ineligible for the post.
The diversity discussion continues, it appears as men and women want to solve the inequality problem. We believe we have a fundamental, semantic challenge that needs a proper exposure in Nepal, especially for a girl to complete their CA/ACCA course in this dominating male world who assumes that girls can’t do CA/ACCA course because of its tough papers and for late hours work, but hard work and determination knows no gender. One of the interviewed candidates has successfully completed her 14 ACCA papers in August 2014 and has gained 3 years of work experience, 2.5 years of which has been covered by working in our client’s office as an outsourced staff. This way we provide employment opportunities and professional development to many ACCA students, affiliates and members in Nepal.