English ICA officials are getting ready to visit the remaining four of the Big Five firms over the next fortnight in a bid to persuade them not to follow Ernst & Young and defect to the Scots ICA for student training. The institute has still to finalise its revised syllabus, whose business-friendly but unified approach was backed by council a fortnight ago. And English ICA education director Brian Chiplin has signalled his willingness to introduce the changes from this September. Talks with the Companies division of the DTI are also expected to continue as the ICA bids to prevent any further Big Five firms from withdrawing students from its training scheme. E&Y said last week it would put all its students through the Scottish institute from the autumn. The row stems from last summer’s vote by institute members to reject the introduction of optional papers into the institute’s syllabus. The Big Five had threatened to pull out of the institute’s training scheme unless electives were introduced. Chiplin said it was essential that changes to the syllabus were right and admitted that they had taken on greater importance following the defection of E&Y which had accounted for 7% of the institute’s students. ‘The council has backed our proposals for a more relevant, flexible and business-friendly syllabus and as a result we are now in implementation mode,’ he said. ‘We expect the new syllabus to be launched in September 2001 at the latest, however it is still a possibility it may be launched this September if the market wants it. ‘It is important to get the changes right as we don’t want to be making further changes three months down the line.’ As well as visiting the remaining four Big Five firms over the next two weeks, the institute will also be writing to mid-tier firms and the UK 200 group of smaller firms inviting them to a number of London-based seminars.
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