Andersen students allowed to qualify up to three months early

Accountancy students at Andersen have been admitted as members by the ICAEW up to three months before the end of their training contracts.

The unusual circumstances surrounding the demise of Andersen has meant that the institute has had to use its discretion and allow those students unable to complete their training experience for the ACA course to be entered as members.

According to Kristin Watson, director of marketing and communicationsin the education and training department of the institute, the situation with Andersen meant that 'redundancy was the inevitable outcome for several students, and it was going to be very difficult for them to find another training contract just to complete, say, four or six weeks.'

The institute felt it was necessary, therefore, to exercise a degree of flexibility for those students who had completed all of their examination and work experience requirements but were still short of their training experience.

A monitor is often used in unusual circumstances such as these to make sure the institute is being consistent with its decisions and practices.

'Any students who were coming to the end of their training contract, but had not managed to complete their examinations, or had not managed to get their requisite work experience would not receive the same preferential treatment', Watson emphasised.

Normally the institute would expect the training contract to be completed because that is a commitment on both sides, but because of the difficulty of the situation with Andersen, the institute decided to make an exception for the students.

Students near the end of their training contracts, but made redundant due to unforeseen circumstances, is something the institute has seen before, but never on the same scale as Andersen.

Andersen's successor Deloitte & Touche said it was unaware of such practices and could not cite any instances within the firm where such leniency was awarded to any of their students.

ACCA UK executive director, Andrew Harding, explained his body qualifies its students based on reaching competency levels rather than reaching a certain number of hours. He argued: 'There is a danger that by cutting the structure of their training, some of the students might not have reached the standards required.'

Harding indicated that issues such as these at Andersen are not a problem for the ACCA because it does not bind students to a three year period and therefore has the flexibility to deal with such matters.

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