The School of Accounting, Economics and Finance in partnership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) celebrated top achieving students at the annual UKZN – SAICA Students’ Awards Ceremony.
‘Accountants play an important role in society because we rely on financial statements prepared by accountants for every financial decision that we make. At UKZN we have young and dynamic team of qualified chartered accountants that teach in the Accounting programmes which makes us strategically positioned to embrace change and in particular the facets of the fourth industrial revolution. We also have experienced academics who have a wealth of experience needed to blend the Accounting expertise in class and beyond. My desire is to increase the number of 133 CTA’s in 2017 to 200 in the next coming years. We therefore need you top performers to mentor others and also give back to the University by becoming academic trainees because we cannot do this alone,’ said the School’s Dean and Head Professor Mabutho Sibanda.
The School also had another reason to celebrate as UKZN was ranked 7th out of 15 universities in the SAICA Board Examinations after achieving a pass rate of 81% which is an improvement from last year’s 73% pass rate. The test was taken in January and is the first part of two rigorous external examinations that Accounting graduates have to pass in order to qualify as chartered accountants.
Other achievements include UKZN having 114 ITC passes which is sixth highest in the country and having the fourth highest transformation pass rate in the country. Furthermore, UKZN students were ranked third in the country for the Ethics and Auditing question and were placed fourth for Financial Accounting.
Speaking on behalf of SAICA, its Regional Executive Mr Naeem Asvat applauded the Dean and the School for the hard work and interventions they have put in place to achieve this success. He also acknowledged the top achievers for succeeding despite challenges and their parents for supporting them and said he is looking forward to the valuable contribution that these students are going to be making in the industry.
Top honours went to the overall top achiever Mr Ahmed Alley who was awarded the best overall third year students in 2016 and best Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA) student in 2017 which he graduated with distinction. Alley was also ranked third in South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)’s Initial test of competence (ITC).
‘Firstly, have a plan for your process of studying for the ITC exams. PGDA students usually finish their academic year during October and the board exam is at the end of January. There is plenty of time and one might procrastinate and delay their preparations for the exams. This is where a study plan will intervene and having one will ensure you make the best use of your time. Hopefully, this achievement is a stepping stone towards greater things in the future. The achievement is a motivating factor in my life, as it proves that I can achieve anything I set my mind on,’ said Alley.
Auditor-General of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Senior Manager Amanda Zuma advised students to be accountants with ethics and integrity.
‘With everything that is currently going on in the Accounting profession, I am really worried about the profession but when I look at the calibre of students produced by UKZN a part of me says don’t worry, the future of the profession is in good hands. I would like to challenge the top achievers to ensure that their journey does not end here and you are not just CA’s or number crunchers but professionals who will ensure that in years to come that the profession is sustainable,’ said Zuma.
The Auditor General of South Africa also sponsored the event.
Accounting Programmes Co-ordinator and academic leader of Taxation, Dr Suren Pillay attributed the achievement to dedicated staff and students and applauded everyone who played a role in the process. He further put an end to speculation about the SAICA accreditation status by affirming that the School has retained its level 2 accreditation and is hopeful that it will attain its goal of achieving a level one ranking for their Accounting programmes.
Prizes were sponsored by SAICA and accounting firm Ernst & Young and Standard Bank which sponsored the event and utilised the awards ceremony to engage with students on employment opportunities.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo