ICAS: Accountancy firms reap benefits from redefined approach to accountancy training

ICAS: Accountancy firms reap benefits from redefined approach to accountancy training

UK accountancy firms have praised the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) for its redefined and market-leading approach to accountancy training.

The new approach is already delivering impressive results for students and businesses alike through an evolved delivery model that gives students a more immersive experience and employers greater control.

ICAS launched a new syllabus and a new way of learning in March, marking the biggest shake up in how it trains accountancy students in its 170-year history. The new syllabus was created in response to demands from the accountancy profession for a qualification that meets their challenges and helps to attract the best talent. It came in conjunction with a UK-first training model that provides unrivalled flexibility for employers and improved outcomes for students.

Ben Sutherland of MHA, which has a cohort of students following the new syllabus, said: “The launch of the new ICAS syllabus has been a resounding success for MHA, with all our Edinburgh students passing their knowledge and skills subjects.

“The combination of self-study, interactive online courses and in-centre workshops has significantly enhanced the student experience, fostering deeper engagement with ICAS and more comprehensive learning.

“Additionally, the increased flexibility in subject enrolment allows us to better support our students’ study schedules, ensuring they can balance their educational and professional commitments. This approach not only meets our students’ needs but also maintains the high quality of service we offer to our clients.

“We’re looking forward to the next term, when our first set of students progress through the new Integration level.”

ICAS’ new student experience integrates state-of-the-art digital course technology with interactive, tutor-led workshops. In shaping the new syllabus, ICAS responded to requests from firms and business for greater flexibility in how accountants are trained to minimise business disruption. Students now have the option to choose between sitting their assessments at home or in the office with online invigilation, or at in an invigilated assessment centre. Students also now get their assessment results within two weeks, allowing them to rapidly progress to the next step of their training journey.

Jill Macdonald, assistant accounts manager at Saffery, said: “The new syllabus feels more modern with interactive material to work through rather than just pages of notes.

“There is a good mixture of digital courses, online drop-in sessions and in-person workshop days which gives the students a variety of learning styles. It is well structured in that home study days must be completed before the next workshop day to keep students on track.”

ICAS: Accountancy firms reap benefits from redefined approach to accountancy training

Gail Boag – ICAS executive director for learning

Early indications are that the new syllabus and experience are delivering positive results. The first cohort of students to complete courses at the initial Knowledge level of the new syllabus achieved an average pass rate of 94%. This represents a 14% increase on results achieved in 2023 by students at the comparable level of the previous syllabus.

Gail Boag, ICAS executive director for learning, said: “Our new, future-fit syllabus was launched to ensure that the CA qualification remains relevant in an evolving business landscape.

“We have reached another significant milestone as the first students to sit our new knowledge courses received their assessment results. The fantastic pass rates are an early indication that our efforts to improve the experience and promote more positive outcomes for students are already paying dividends.”

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