THROUGH its 60 years of functioning, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has kept its commitment of churning out meritorious students. Till recently, only the qualified students and members could take up envious positions in successful companies, but now even the non-qualified students are getting equally lucrative offers. In an interview with Urmila Rao, Uttam Prakash Agarwal, Former ICAI President shares.
Q. Why does that happens to students who don't qualify, post the CA exam?
A.The Chartered Accountant (CA) exam is not tough, provided the student takes the course seriously. I have trained 75 articles (candidates) in the last 20 years and all of them are certified CAs today. But for students who are not able to qualify, the council has decided to offer them a certification course which is called Accounting Technicians Certificate (ATC). So the students who have joined the CA course, after intermediate and completed articleship training, since 1949 till today, is awarded the ATC.
It is recognised by our institute, which is a body under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The certificate will establish that the person has expert knowledge of accounting. It serves a twin-purpose - that of helping students who couldn't become CAs, as well as providing skilled candidates to the industry. We will have about 50,000 accounting technicians soon. Also, note the role of CAs in the corporate sector is no longer that of post-mortem officers auditing and accounting; they are now business solution providers.
Q. Once a candidate qualifies with the Accounting Certificate Course, what is the job profile he can aspire for?
A. After 3.5 years of articleship training, students are equipped to face any challenge. They have talent; they are smart and can render all kinds of services. Companies across ndustries are hiring them for functions like marketing, human resources and inventory anagement. Today qualification is just one aspect. A lot depends on etiquette, personality and your ability to get things done.
Q. Is that the reason why ICAI started a soft skills programme last year?
A.Yes, we launched a three-month residential programme on professional skills development, which has six modules. We noticed that while the students were equipped in technical areas, they lacked communication, inter-personal and behavioural skills. We plan to make the course mandatory, but till the time infrastructure is in place, it will be an elective course. Every batch has about 55-60 students. The course fee remains the same, despite this addition.
Q. Tell us about your scholarship programme.
A. Scholarships are awarded twice a year, in April and then in October. We have three categories of scholarships; merit, merit-cum-need based and need-based scholarships. Earlier we used to give Rs 500 for students under the category of merit-cum-need based programmes, but now we have raised the sum to Rs 1,000.
Q. Since the inception of the programme 60 years ago, how many students have failed to qualify after the CA course? What is the total number of students who have appeared since the examination commenced in 1949?
A.Since the inception of the Institute year 1949 around 9 lakh students have enrolled and out of that around 1.75 lakh have passed. 4.5 lakh are still pursuing CA. 2.75 lakh have not cleared the exam. We have been witnessing a steady surge in the number of girl students opting for CA course. At the moment they form 40%. of the total number of students pursuing the course.
Q. Is ICAI planning to tie-up with financial institutions like banks, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, or Association of Mutual Funds of India to start customised courses so that non-members too can be gainfully employed?
We have launched 10 certificate courses (see www.icai.org) for members. We felt that some students may want to take up specialisation. So considering their need and interest, we are developing specific courses in disciplines of corporate governance, enterprise risk management, business finance, international taxation and so on.
Q. How many students enrol each year? How many qualify?
A. About 90,000 enroll. Around 11,000 qualify.
Q. How would you advise a student to prepare so that he is able to succeed?
A. Students should start their preparation early, practise problems and case studies regularly, keep healthy and don't read too many books. Every author has his own way of presenting the subject matter. Analyse the text books carefully and choose one text book which you understand easily.
Q. What aptitude is required for the students aiming to take the course?
A.They should be sincere, honest and dedicated.