South Africa

Best and worst South African universities to become a CA

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 Pass Rate
University of Pretoria 99%
University of Stellenbosch 96%
North-West University 95%
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%
Milpark Education 70%
University of the Western Cape 66%
University of Kwazulu-Natal  59%
IIE 49%
Institute of Accounting Science  47%
Rhodes University  45%
University of Fort Hare 44%
Regent Business School  33%
University of South Africa 20%


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