The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Icai) plans to make its entrance test tougher to ensure only serious students get through, after less than 4% of students managed to graduate this year.
The institute runs two parallel chartered accountancy (CA) courses, a traditional course and another updated course that was introduced in 2006.
Of the 13,242 students of the old course who took the final year examination in June, only 458 passeda mere 3.46%the lowest since 2004. The success rate for the updated course was slightly better at 6.56% of 7,424 candidates.
One reason that we can see for the lower number of successful candidates is a shift from theoretical kind of papers to (an) application-based (examination), Icai president Amarjit Chopra said. But I would say this is something that students will have to get used to.
Another reason why the success rate was low was the relative ease with which admission seekers cleared the common proficiency test (CPT) to enter the institute.
Around 25-30% of candidates appearing for the CPT managed to get through, and many of them are not serious about making chartered accountancy their career.
The institute is also considering making the CPT tougher, so that only capable students go in for CA, said Chopra.
A 4-6 August meeting will discuss measures to make the CPT tougher and better geared to select students who will go on to graduate from the course as well, he added.
But a Rajasthan-based chartered accountant said Icai was simply bowing to pressure from the industry.
The institute is deliberately churning out a lower number of CAs so that there is no glut in the market, especially when companies are just getting out of the grip of a recession and are going slow on recruitment, the CA said, asking not to be named.
The Chartered Accountants Act of 1949 lays down that results announced by Icai cannot be challenged, allowing the institute to have its way.
But Chopra denied the charge. There has been no deliberate attempt to moderate the results. The impact of moderation anyway will be a favourable one, he said, adding that the success rate was a high 25% in 2008, when the economic slowdown was at its peak.
This years poor result also follows a move three-and-a-half years ago to allow students passing class XII to appear for the CPT, and letting students pursue CA and BCom degrees simultaneously.
New Delhi-based education counsellor Geetanjali Kumar said instead of making the CPT tougher, Icai should look at selecting candidates with an aptitude for the profession and design the question papers accordingly.
It has also been seen that students pursuing CA are focusing more on other things like articleship (where they help practising CAs in their work) and taking help of private tutors rather than attending regular colleges and studying for CA, which results in changing their orientation, added Kumar. So I would say every link has to be strengthened.