A failure to achieve forecast increases in student numbers and the consequent loss of income has forced CIPFA to propose sweeping changes to its education and training scheme just five years after the existing arrangements were put in place.
The current scheme, which was launched in 1993, will be overhauled in December 1999 if changes put to members last week are approved.
Under the proposals, the open learning method of study, which was introduced to give students, employers and colleges more flexibility, will be revamped.
A former NHS accountant closely associated with CIPFA, which is holding its annual conference in Brighton this week, said it was the costs of this scheme that drove the review. ‘Students weren’t happy, colleges weren’t happy and employers weren’t happy,’ he said.
In recent years, he added, student registrations in the health sector, an area where CIPFA once accounted for up to 90% of accountancy trainees, had fallen considerably and there were only around 100 registrations against a forecast of 250 last year.
‘Student numbers were forecast to increase so that costs would go down sharply,’ he said. ‘The numbers did not come through.’
The lack of student numbers and costs associated with the introduction of open learning were the main drivers of CIPFA’s recent reorganisation and redundancies.
‘The whole reorganisation was really because CIPFA’s finances were unstable,’ added the former NHS accountant.
Ken Gill, CIPFA’s education director, said he was trying to cut student training costs from #700 to around #450, but he blamed public-sector restructuring for a fall in student registrations from about 650 a year in 1995 to 542 last year.
The institute launched a steering group to examine proposals for change and if members back the proposals, the package of changes will be put to the CIPFA council for approval in September.
If it is approved, the new foundation syllabus will be introduced for the December 1999 examination, although most changes will be seen at Professional 2 level.
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