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Accountancy Students Decry Tough Papers, High Failure Rates

“Can the institute help people who have failed the papers like four times as it is demotivating and demoralizing!” said a student. But CPA Mayende, the ICPAU President said the institute cannot compromise the quality of the profession since it is internationally affiliated.

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Access to job opportunities, and the high failure rates dominated the concerns by graduates of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, during the release of the last examination results. 

The students, most of whom attended the event virtually expressed concern that they find it hard to find jobs after graduating, despite the fact that the number of opportunities for the accounting professions is increasing. 

The accountants’ body that is responsible for the training and enforcement of standards of the profession in Uganda, said the challenges is not general but depends on the individual. 

The most common challenge that faces graduates across all or most of the professions in Uganda, is the lack of experience, which most employers state as one of the qualifications. 

Most fields do not recognize industrial training or internship as part of the source of experience but will require an average of three years, which a young professional will struggle to get. 

Professional and accountancy firms are some of the few areas that take on graduates and trainees on payment terms, which is hailed as a good start for them. 

However, the President of ICPAU, Constant Othieno Mayende says some graduates miss out on the opportunities because they lack skills to prepare for the job, including writing a CV, writing an application letter, or facing a job interview. He says paper qualification and membership to the professional body is not enough. 

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Mayende says that unfortunately for the young graduates, job interviews are evolving into simulated real-life experiences for an applicant to practically prove their proficiency. 

He says even after getting the job, one will easily lose it if they do not have the skills that the employer looks for away from the paper qualifications, including the integration of ICT in one’s competencies.

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According to ICPAU, there are more accountancy jobs in Uganda than the available professional accountants, who number just about 5,000, and yet the number is growing every quarter of the year. 

According to the Accountants Act 2013, senior financial management or accountancy jobs in government departments and other fields like media companies, are supposed to be held by professional accountants, who are licensed by ICPAU. 

However, this is yet to be fully implemented, and the accountants' body says this will be gradual, as the retiring people in the positions are replaced by the licensed accountants. 

The Chairman of the Public Accountants Examinations Board, Geoffrey Byamugisha says if every professional accountant cared about promoting their competence, they would be adequately catered for by the Law which sets aside the jobs for them.

     

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The examinations that were conducted in June at the eight examination centres around the country, were sat by 4,940 candidates, which was higher than the 4,162 that sat in December 2021 and 4,238 in October. 

These include accountants, accounting technicians, and tax advisors, among others. 

The Accounting Technicians Diploma, a beginner’s course recorded the highest pass rate of 53.2 percent, which was also an improvement from the previous sitting. 

The Certified Tax Advisors and Certified Public Accountants both posted 44.7 pass rates, which improved from 26.6 and 35.5 percent respectively from the December sittings. 

One student online asked the body to find ways of helping students who repeatedly fail some papers. 

“Can the institute help people who have failed the papers like four times? It is demotivating and demoralizing,” said a student on anonymity.

They also queried why the most ‘stubborn’ papers are maintained as part of the examinations, including Quantitative Techniques, Management Decisions, and Control as  well as Public Sector Accounting. 

CPA Byamugisha, the chief examiner, said the institute always gets comprehensive reports from examiners after the examination diet, and together with experts, they invite the students to go through the areas that were most challenging. 

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On the high failure rate, CPA Mayende, the President,  said there is nothing they can do because they cannot compromise the quality of the profession by setting easier exams since it is internationally affiliated. 

He says instead that the candidates should do more while preparing for the exams. 

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