Results for the final board exam for prospective new chartered accountants in South Africa show that students who completed the UCT College of Accounting Board Course APC Professional Programme did better than students who participated in other programmes.
Of the 467 UCT Board Course students (including students from all universities), 94% passed the APC exam; 8% higher than the national average.
"We are celebrating with our students," said Paul Maughan, senior lecturer at the college. "These results show what the hard work of students and the tireless efforts of the team of lecturers and markers can achieve."
College head Professor Mark Graham agreed. "We structured our programme according to the new South African Institute of Chartered Accountants requirements to ensure that students were presented with the best possible learning environment and personal support."
Blended learning triumph
He said the results were also a victory for blended learning and the interactive educational approach that the COA had adopted. It was the first time that UCT offered its APC Professional Programme, which combines online lessons and special contact sessions, in association with online education pioneers GetSmarter.
This means that students from all over the country can participate – and even those on secondment in countries like the UK and Australia.
"In a way, these results are a coming-of-age for online education and the blended learning methods," said Graham. "They show that more flexible and innovative teaching methods are extremely effective in specialised academic fields and can reduce drop-out rates significantly."
He said that the new APC exam ensures that future chartered accountants are prepared and able to apply the strategic and managerial aspects of the broader accountancy discipline – and able to integrate and apply their knowledge and skills as fully rounded professionals.
While students writing the previous PPE or Financial Management Part II Board Exam did so on one day, students in the new APC got a case study in a limited format five days before the written test. Students then had five days to gather information and prepare themselves for the final examination involving the case study.
All in a day's work
The examination replicated an eight-hour working day and students were asked to complete assignments as if they were working in an office, using the same materials and competencies required in a work setting.
"This kind of examination tests particular skills and focuses on insight and practical application," said Maughan. "It's is not about attaining a certain mark but about proving an appropriate level of professional competence."
"To become a CA (SA) is an outstanding achievement and passing this kind of rigorous exam means students are really ready for the professional working environment."
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