The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA’s) Initial Test of Competence (ITC) revealed that the University of Pretoria’s students outperformed their peers.
The ITC is the first of two professional qualifying examinations an aspiring chartered accountant (CA) must pass on their journey to achieving the CA(SA) designation.
The ITC tests candidates’ ability to apply technical competence gained during the SAICA accredited academic programme, which consists of an undergraduate and a postgraduate programme.
To pass, candidates must obtain an overall pass mark of 50% and achieve a sub-minimum of at least 40% in three of the four professional papers.
In March, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) announced that 59% of candidates who wrote the first sitting of the 2022 ITC passed.
There has been a significant pass rate decline over the last five years, dropping 15% from 74% in 2017 to 59% in 2022.
The declining pass rate is partly a result of declining standards at the University of South Africa.
SAICA’s breakdown of the pass rate by university revealed a significant performance difference between institutions.
The University of Pretoria (UP) ranked first with a 99% pass rate, followed by the University of Stellenbosch with 96%, and the North-West University (NWU) with 95%.
UP’s excellent performance was in line with previous years. It has had consistent high pass rates over the last 15 years, with an average first-time pass rate of 94.6%.
“We pride ourselves in the quality of graduates that we produce. These excellent results attest to our teaching and learning quality,” said UP’s professor Margaret Chitiga-Mabugu.
On the other end of the scale, the University of South Africa (UNISA) performed the worst, with a pass rate of only 20%.
What is of particular concern is that UNISA’s pass rate declined by 40% over the last five years – from 60% in 2017 to 20% in 2022.
A SAICA panel led by seasoned accountant Sizwe Nxasana said these results do not bode well for UNISA accounting graduates.
The City Press newspaper reported that the panel warned that UNISA postgraduates might battle to become chartered accountants.
The panel found that UNISA’s postgraduate assessments were generally not of the expected standard.
UNISA’s postgraduate accounting programme remains accredited by SAICA, but UNISA was warned to take immediate steps to address the deficiencies in the programme.
“If appropriate action is not taken, this could result in SAICA withdrawing the accreditation of the programme,” the panel’s report stated.
Best and worst universities
The table below shows the performance of South African universities in the 2022 SAICA ITC.
|2022 SAICA ITC Performance|
|University of Pretoria||99%|
|University of Stellenbosch||96%|
|University of Cape Town||89%|
|University of the Witwatersrand||88%|
|Nelson Mandela University||83%|
|University of Free State||76%|
|University of Johannesburg||73%|
|University of Limpopo||71%|
|University of the Western Cape||66%|
|University of Kwazulu-Natal||59%|
|Institute of Accounting Science||47%|
|University of Fort Hare||44%|
|Regent Business School||33%|
|University of South Africa||20%|