I read your article (‘Graduates get ICAEW fast track’, page 2, 24 May) with interest. I note the following omissions from your commentary which I believe to be relevant.
1) The students at Newcastle University, who will be attached to PwC for work placement, will not sit the same professional stage exams as other students. They will cover work (presumably exams) which exempts them.
2) In December 2000, two universities tried to teach professional stage courses and came out with a combined pass rate so low, I understand they are reconsidering the venture. I understand one of the universities in question entered students for a total of 26 papers and collected just ONE pass. The cynic in me suspects the Newcastle students will sit different exam papers to others in order to ensure that a viable pass rate can be ‘created’.
3) I understand ICAS was originally in line to do the deal but pulled out because it feared quality and rigour were being undermined. If timescale had anything to do with it, it is purely that the ICAEW was prepared to say yes immediately in a desperate attempt to stop PwC moving further students north of the border.
These issues seem to point in one direction. This is a move designed to save tuition costs and enhance chargeable time which poses severe quality issues regarding the ACA qualification.
The ICAEW has given too much to PwC in a desperate attempt to retain the client, whatever the cost to the qualification. The scheme will be expanded to further universities in the near future. It is vital we all take note of this terrible development.
Paul Merison, via email
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