Accounting Science students up in arms about ‘unfair’ exam

Students say that they were set up to fail auditing supplementary exam.

A group of over 50 third-year BAccSci students who failed their supplementary auditing exam fear that they will not be able to secure funding and register for the upcoming academic year.

In a meeting organised by the students with the Head of School of Accountancy, Professor Nirupa Padia, on Wednesday, January 23, the students claimed that the ACCN3015 paper which they wrote on November 27, 2018, was “identical” to that written by the fourth-year class during the same period and that is the reason for their failure.

Padia told the students that she would consider their complaints and try and come up with a solution before their next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, January 31. The students have also written to the Vice-Chancellor’s office and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Sifiso Mduli, who was repeating third year, fears that he will lose his bursary if these grievances are not resolved soon. The students are demanding a review of their exam or possibly even a second sitting because they say these results cast a doubt on their future at the university.

“I’ve communicated with my bursar but it’s difficult to explain. They’ll believe that I am incompetent especially because of last year. So it seems like I might be forced to fund myself if I want to continue studying.

The students also alleged at the meeting with Padia that some of their classmates had been allowed to view their scripts and review their marks while others were not permitted. Those who had viewed their scripts were said to have subsequently passed.

The situation has gained national attention with the issue being discussed on SAfm early last week. The requirements of the course were highlighted in the radio discussion with Professor Jason Cohen, the deputy dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management. The requirements are that third-year students have to pass all four of their subjects (management accounting and finance, taxation, auditing and financial accounting) to progress to fourth year.

“This is not a qualification requirement to receive the Bachelors of Accounting Science degree, it is an entry requirement into the fourth year or, so-called CTA year,” Cohen said. “So a number of students managed to pass through by obtaining credits in a more piecemeal manner. It is only in trying to access that fourth year that we require those students to pass through.”

Cohen argued on air that, despite these demands, most students had performed reasonably well, saying that nearly three quarters of the student body had passed three of the four courses, while auditing had a pass rate of 60%.

“I understand the frustrations of the students who were not able to succeed this time around but nearly 500 students passed that particular course being referred to,” Cohen added.

Third-year BAccSci student, Rudelle Pillay, said that she had been left with very few options and hoped the situation would be resolved before the academic year began.

“I feel that they have been inconsistent; there’s no transparency in this course. We have been talking to them for weeks so this could get resolved sooner rather than later.

“I’ve had to convert to a BCom because I wanted to register. My parents cannot afford to pay for those four subjects again, considering that I still owe money,” Pillay added.

FEATURED IMAGE: The School of Accountancy is wrapped in controversity as students claim to have disadvantaged in supp exam Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

RELATED ARTICLES:

KPMG relationship with Wits students remains unaffected

STATE CAPTURE: KPMG is under investigation by South Africa’s Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors. Photo: Kayleen Morgan

WITS ACCOUNTING students should not worry about the relationship the firm has with the accounting faculty as sponsorships, internships and employment opportunities will still be available to them.

This is according to KPMG spokesperson, Nqubeko Sibiya, who told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We are looking forward to welcoming them to a strong team of 3 400 skilled professionals committed to take KPMG forward.” He also said that although Wits, along with other entities, has decided not to extend its contract with KPMG, the firm is working “tirelessly to enhance the business”and to repair its reputation.

This follows the announcement by Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib that the university would not renew its contract with the auditing firm at the end of the 2017 financial year.
Habib said in a statement released on Wednesday, October 4, that, “The company should have embarked on programmes to correct the wrongs that have been done to individuals and institutions and an independent investigation should have been initiated at the outset.”

The auditing firm has been on the ropes ever since revelations from leaked emails
that work it had done for companies owned by the politically-connected Gupta family facilitated state capture.

KMPG also withdrew a report it had prepared for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on a so-called rogue unit, that had pitted SARS
Commissioner Tom Moyane against then minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan.

Newly-appointed CEO of KPMG, Nhlamulo Dlomu, has committed the firm to donate R40 million to education and anticorruption, not-for-profi t organisations.
The figure is based on the total fees earned from Gupta related entities to which KPMGSouth Africa provided services from 2002.Dlomu also said that, “These events do
not represent KPMG, our people or the values we have adhered to over decades of committed client service. My pledge and promise to the country is that we can  will regain the public’s confidence.”

Fourth-year accounting science studentShivant, who preferred not to have his surname published, said that if KPMG offered him a position he would not accept it because of personal reasons but felt that other students may accept an offer from them because KPMG is not a growing risk. However, he added that student graduates would not be able to make a huge change at the firm because, “The culture of the firm comes from the board and as a graduate you’d start at a junior position with very little influence.”

Shivant said that he believes the only way to bring change in South Africa’s auditing field is for young auditors to start their own firms and challenge the monopoly of the “big four” – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG.

The Accountancy Head of School could not be reached for comment regarding the relationship between KPMG and the faculty by the time of going to print.

*The quote by Shivant has been altered in the above article from “Fourth-year accounting science studentShivant, who preferred not to have his surname published, said that if KPMG offered him a position he would not accept it because independence is key in the auditing fraternity.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Wits Vuvuzela, October 2017,Wits drops KPMG as internal auditors

Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017Wits council to review its relationship with KPMG

ASC candidates hopeful for election success

UPDATE: ASC Election results announced

Kerosha Reddy
Nelisa Metula
Buhle Mayatula
Aseza Matanzima
Sewela Makgolane
Sphindile Gumede
Regis Majawa

The Accounting School Council student elections were held today on Wits West campus. The candidates are hopeful for increased student support and intend to continue building a stronger relationship between the students, the new council and lecturers. 

Students at the School of Accountancy casting their vote for the Accounting Student Council Photo: Riante Naidoo

Students at the School of Accountancy casting their vote for the Accounting Student Council Photo: Riante Naidoo

Seventeen students are standing in the Wits Accounting Student Council elections which started earlier this week at Wits West campus.

There are 11 positions available on the Council and candidates are hoping a spot on the structure will help to increase cohesion between staff and students in the school.

Phiwe Fongoqa and Sewela Makgolane, both 2nd year BComAcc, students are standing as members of a group called “The Connect”. “The Connect is a group of 10 individuals who share the same vision and goals for the ASC,” Fongoqa said.

Makgolane said she encouraged students to vote to create the platform for change that a new council will offer. “We want to diminish the gaps between the different levels in the school,” she said.

“There is a huge gap between the students, the ASC and the lecturers,” he said, “We want to form one tight bond and work as one school,” Fongoqa said.

“The ASC are here to make sure students have the right support structures, influences and networks for when they leave,” Fongoqa said, “provided we get the student support, we can make a change”.

One of the individual candidates, Nilendri Naicker, 2nd year BAccSci, is hoping to secure the position of chair or vice-chair of the Council. Despite running against a large group like The Connect, Naicker feels she has a good chance of success but expressed disappointed at the low voter turnout.

The election process began on Tuesday, and culminated in voting this afternoon. It is still unclear when the final results will be made public.