This letter is prompted by the picture of the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) hoarding in front of the ICASL (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka) head office, which appeared in the Sunday Times.
CIMA has found an innovative way to attract chartered accountancy students, especially after the introduction of the new ICASL syllabus and in the light of ICASL exam results.
According to unconfirmed reports, only 15 out of more than 600 students have completed the Strategic Level 2, which itself is a record of sorts. Usually, the ICASL passes 100 students per exam. And only five students have passed in the subject Financial Management.
All this begs questions about the purpose of holding an exam that has a pass rate of less than 1 per cent. Strangely, the ICASL had not made its pass list public, which raises further doubts about an organisation that is not transparent about its exams.
The rule of passing students who score more than 50 marks is a direct copy of the CIMA exam style, but there is a striking difference in the quality of the study materials and exam papers of the two institutes. ICASL questions are known to be vague and ambiguous, and ICASL study texts are rife with misprints and other errors. Meanwhile, the ICASL holds cocktail parties for its members and puts up six-storey buildings, causing raised eyebrows, if not indignation, among the students and the parents who pay the ICASL fees. The ICASL has no moral right to cry foul at CIMA, an organisation that has found opportunities in the frustrated ICASL student community.
With chartered accountancy student registration numbers rapidly falling, the only way for the ICASL to survive is to have its current students perpetually enslaved to the institute, its audit firms, and its tuition classes. The partners and the owners of these audit firms and those who run these tuition classes are ICASL members.