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

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Wits council to review its relationship with KPMG

THE WITS management council is reviewing its relationship with audit company KPMG.

An online campaign started last week calling on the chairpersons of the internal audit committee and the council to honour its commitment to social justice and sever ties with KPMG as the university’s auditor.

According to Koketso Moeti, the founder of Amandla.mobi, where the petition is hosted, the initiators of the campaign preferred to remain anonymous.

A researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (a partner of Wits), who signed the petition, said that it is important that people sign. “At this time all organisations should decide what they stand for and who they stand with in society, and Wits needs to do the same,” he said.

In the petition, Wits is asked to join organisations such as investment management company Sygnia, energy investment company Hulisani, and financial services firm Sasfin, among others, in letting go of the services of KPMG and to introduce a policy of ethical procurement.

According to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tawana Kupe, the university’s official external auditors are PriceWaterhouse-Coopers, but Wits secures its internal audit functions from KPMG.

University officials have been engaging with KPMG, and an announcement will be made next week [this week],”said Kupe, in a note sent out late last Friday.

Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba said in a statement last week that the events surrounding KPMG have weakened the reputation of good governance and audit independence in a major division in our economy.

He also said, “As a measure to restore confidence in audits, all of government and its entities must consider reviewing their work programmes with KPMG.

KPMG has recently come under fire following a report, based on emails posted by investigative journalism non-profit amaBhungane, for failing to oppose the irregular treatment of the Gupta wedding expenses in 2014.

The emails showed that KPMG was aware that Gupta owned companies were classifying wedding costs as business expenses, which could be deducted for tax purposes, but did not raise concerns.

Eight senior executives, including CEO Trevor Hoole, resigned and KPMG

has announced that a full, independent investigation into its South African branch’s dealings with the Gupta family, and its involvement with a controversial South African Revenue Service report will be conducted by a “senior South African legal figure, who is completely independent of both KPMG South Africa and KPMG International”.

The petition demanding that Wits withdraws from any dealings with KPMG had reached 84 out of 100signatures at the time of going to press on Thursday.

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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.

 

 

Students tackle e-tutoring

An exciting new online teaching initiative is taking Wits by storm.

Students can now get help online, with IQMate.com. Third year applied maths student, Houston Muzamhindo created the teaching website.

“Students can watch video tutorials online that are relevant to their courses. They can post questions and get answers,” enthused Zandi Keebine, Computational Applied Maths Masters student. She is one of the students who contributed to the site.

www.IQmates.com is targeted towards any student who is struggling with maths, accounting, physics and engineering.
“We are specifically trying to get first years and undergrads involved as we feel it will be a great help to their studies.”
In fact, “Any person, from any school, in any country can access the website and get help,” said Keebine.

The tutorials are structured according to the syllabus, so it stays relevant and up to date.
The website can also be a useful way for students to get in touch with tutors who could give them extra lessons or one-on-one guidance.

There are group discussions on the site where anyone can contribute by providing useful information.
This space provides a free market of ideas where students get access to various sources.

“Sometimes notes given in class aren’t enough and students need more practice and explanation in order to understand,” said Keebine.

By getting a variety of opinion, students can grasp ideas better and receive information that is more comprehendible.
Gone are the days of having to search Google or YouTube for hours, trying to get answers. Now a quick and easy portal gives students access to help any time of day.

The Science Teaching and Learning Centre’s, Dr Ann Cameron, had been involved in researching innovative education methods and helped to connect students to other lecturers.

Head of Schools for Computational and Applied Maths, Prof Ebrahim Momoniat  supports the initiative. He helped the students set up the online teaching tool. There are plans to expand the website to include more subjects from other faculties.

The website IQmates.com is up and running and ready to help. For online tutoring go to www.IQmates.com and sign up.

Witsies dominate accountancy test

Wits students dominated an annual competency test for accountants by obtaining 5 of the 10 highest results nationally.

 

The students participated in the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) ‘Initial Test of Competence” (ITC) on Wednesday.

 

The test is written yearly as a prerequisite for all prospective Chartered Accountants. SAICA is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes and provides support services to more that 34 000 members who are Chartered Accountants and hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in their spheres of business operation.

 

Mandi Olivier, SAICA’s Senior Executive: Professional Development said in a media release:  “Most of these members operate in commerce and industry, and play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.”

 

This year the results show that 73% of the 3117 candidates who wrote the test passe, a score that has increased by 14% from last year.

 

Olivier said: “There continues to be a good growth in the number of African candidates writing the ITC with their proportion of the exam population increasing from 27% to 30% (933 candidates), the majority being first timers.

 

The Wits SRC caused some controversy on Thursday when they congratulated the top Wits students by tweeting: “#SAICABoardExams The top five are Wits students. Well done Witsies!!”

 

This tweet caused outrage amongst students as it was in fact incorrect.  Although five students made it into the top ten, they were not all part of the top five.

 

The SRC later apologized for the error.

 

The top ten results are as follows:

 

1. Shaun Brett Croock; University of Johannesburg

2. Gordon Bradley; University of Witwatersrand

3. Jithen Vadival Pillay; University of Cape Town

4. Muhammed Munshi; University of Witwatersrand

5. Steven Marc Hurwitz; University of Witwatersrand

6. Gene Amor Samuels; University of Cape Town

7. Johann Steyn; university of Johannesburg

8. Christopher Eric Guattari- Stafford; University of Cape Town

9. Martin Lawrence Richman; University of Witwatersrand

10. Kishan Govan; University of Witwatersrand