LEADER – Learning the way forward

‘Reform or die’ are chilling words, but they strike right to the heart of the problem facing the English ICA. Over the past three decades the pre-eminence of the institute’s chartered accountancy qualification has been chipped away by a host of pretenders to its throne – MBAs, foreign rivals and even the ACCA’s cheaper option are clamouring for world dominance.

Now the institute is worried. Its qualification is looking increasingly isolated and unable to provide a global solution for young accountants searching for a fulfiling career.

Critics, including the institute’s education and training committee chairman Peter Wyman, say it is ‘irrelevant, demotivating and wasteful’. Plans are afoot to change all that. By the autumn of 2000, the institute could have a new course, focused on business needs and concentrating on principles rather than detail. Potential accountants will recognise the chartered accountancy qualification as the way forward – the answer to all their training needs. It is a golden opportunity to revitalise the English ICA and secure its future.

One thing stands in the way. Members. Last time a major rethink of the E&T syllabus was proposed, members rejected it. Now is not the time to repeat that mistake. The institute must put aside thoughts of a divine right to be the best – that time is gone. Instead it is time to make changes, painful though they may be, and install a new syllabus that will prepare it for the new millennium.

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