Friends, why I have decided to write on this topic because I believe that this is the need of the hour. Yes, structural changes are required in the Examination system of ICAI to save the reputation of this profession as I believe that if students in a country are not happy, then we cannot have bright future of the country.
All those who belong to CA Fraternity are aware of the fact that there are some issues with the examination system of ICAI. It all started when the Institute released two lists of pass students for CA Finals in Nov 2017 exams. Students were in fix whether they cleared or did not clear the CA Examination. Students raised the issue before ICAI but didn't receive any satisfactory response from their side.
However, after May 2018 CA Final and IPCC results, a lot of students again raised the issue of discrepancies in their marks and errors in the answer sheets checked. Now, a few days back we saw a countrywide protest by students and all the Frontline faculties of India demanding amendment of regulation 39(4) which don't allow rechecking in case any discrepancy is found in the checked answer sheet as we have seen that even MCQs were not checked correctly.
I will straight away jump to the reforms that I expect ICAI to bring based on my experience and errors seen in the checked answer sheets
1) Entrance should be made toughest:- What kind of Examination system we have that doesn't assure you a good career/Degree even after spending 5-6 years in it? We all know entry to CA Profession is easiest and result of CA-CPT comes somewhere around 30-40%. Why can't we reduce it to below 10% so that student's who don't deserve to be Chartered Accountant are eliminated initially and they don't waste precious years of their life doing this course and end up getting nothing.
Now private coaching huts will not support my views and reason is obvious -their 'Bread and Butter' and this may also reduce article assistant in market. But what's the use of pumping so many article assistants in market when there are not enough good firms. Why Can't we have entrance exam papers like CFA, UPSC, CAT etc.?
2) Duration of the Articleship: In my opinion, article ship period should be reduced to 2 years and industrial training should be made compulsory for students for 9 month to 1 Year as ultimately student has to work in Industry or even if wishes to set up his/her practice unit, the experience gained in Industry shall be fruitful. Most of the Companies coming in campus placement of ICAI do not hire students due to lack of Industry experience and presentation skills. Thus, I believe that splitting the Training period into Article ship and Industrial Training would be very much beneficial for students in getting good exposure and would improve his/her presentation skills.
3) Practical Assessment Test: ICAI has recently come up with practical assessment Test for students undergoing article ship. But if you see the Question Paper, it's again sort of theoretical based and student's who have taken CA Final Coaching can perform better than a student who is actually doing Article ship seriously.
Why can't we have an actual practical assessment test i.e. giving student's Questions related to Tax return filing/ROC Compliance/Balance sheet Finalization etc. instead of paper-based MCQs?
Another suggestion is to allot grades to CA Firms also based on the Student's performance and make a region-wise annual report public showing CA Firm grade/performance so that student's looking for article ship get a fair idea in selection of the firm. Let's make members also accountable!!!!
4) Introduce concept of Work Diaries: Yes, I am serious!! If we are really serious about article ship then this concept should be introduced wherein a student should be required to submit monthly summary of the work done by him and this should be certified by him. Obviously, a utility/structure can be decided by officials but this concept will make students and principals very much serious about article ship.
I am focusing so much on article ship is because this 3-year period will define a student's career and our profession's future.
5) Centralized Evaluation of Answer sheets across all Levels: Yes, this can be done as ICAI is no short of Funds as Annual Accounts for FY 2017-18 reflects a net surplus of more than 188 Crore and thus this is the right place to invest. All the big examination boards like CBSE and other examination bodies maintain a specific location as a center to Invite all the examiners at one place and check all the answer sheets. This totally works as Quality Check for the evaluation done by the examiner.
6) Rechecking of Papers should be allowed to students: Yes, this is should be allowed and why not? Paper Evaluators are also human beings and thus they are bound to commit mistakes. But this mistake can take a family's six months or might land a student in depression.
For God Sake make whatever amendments are required from legal point of view and give this right to students. ICAI may charge some amount so that only genuine cases make an application but this right should be given with immediate effect.
7) Objective/Open Book Exams should be encouraged: Why you want students to cramp law? Why can't there be 100% application oriented and case studies-based questions. Yes, ICAI has come up with MCQs and this is a welcome step but this % should increased from 30% to at least 50% so that human involvement is reduced. I am in favor of Open book exams also but this is not possible for all papers so more of objective questions-based papers should be encouraged.
8) More Soft Skills sessions (MCS): Everybody say that we chartered accountants lack in presentation skills. But do you think that saying this is enough or we need a solution? The solution is to have more MCS like sessions which actually improve your presentation skills. Just like we have CPE hours for members we should also think of presentation skills sessions for students.
These were certain suggestions which I would like to give to ICAI and reason why I am putting it in social media is because social media is a better medium to communicate with ICAI rather than Emails.
I invite suggestions as well as criticism by the readers.
The author can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org