How long will it take to qualify?

Some 184,642 accountancy students are still trying to ‘get qualified’ five years after they started their professional studies. That is 31.54% of all the PQs signed up with ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, ICAEW, CAI, ICAS and the AIA.

The concern must be that this percentage seems to be creeping up each year. Back in January 2022 the number of students who had been studying over five years was 30%.

The figures compiled by the Financial Reporting Council each year show there are 585,385 students studying worldwide with these seven bodies, which are based in the UK and Ireland.

And, while ACCA may have the most student still studying with them and paying their subscriptions after half a decade at 143,609 (or 32.79%), this is not the biggest percentage. That honour goes to CIPFA, where 51.93% of its students (3,209) are still trying to get qualified five year after starting their journey.

At CIMA the figure of 31,861 represents 36.38% of the student base.

In the past some experts had ventured that the rise in the length of students studying was due to the pandemic, however post-pandemic the number still seems to be rising.

It isn’t taking everyone five years to get qualified either.  CAI, ICAEW and ICAS have over 85% of their students complete their training in four years or less. Only 14%, 12% and 12% of their students were registered for more than four years as at 31 December 2022.

The key facts and trends survey also show that since 2018 all the accountancy bodies, except CIPFA, have increased their percentage of female members worldwide. That said, at the ICAEW just 31% of members are women. Meanwhile, CIPFA has 33% members who are female and ICAS 35%. At ACCA some 48% of its members are women. It all means over four years, between 2018 and 2022, overall female members increased just one percentage point – from 37% to 38%.

However, the overall percentage of female student (50%) is greater than the overall percentage of female members by some distance. ACCA has the largest percentage of female students in 2022 at 60%.

There are significant differences in the age profiles of worldwide members of the seven accountancy bodies in 2022 too. ACCA, CAI and ICAS had relatively high proportions of members aged under 35 at 24%, 27% and 22% respectively, while CIPFA had the largest percentage of members aged 45 and over, at 74%.

Professional accountancy students are also getting younger with 77% under the age of 35, compared with 78% in 2018. ICAEW, ICAS and CAI had the highest percentage of students aged 34 or under at 97%, 96% and 89% respectively in 2022.

Interestingly some 97% of AIA and 84% of ACCA students were based outside the UK and ROI. In contrast ICAS and CAI had 1% or less of students based outside the UK and ROI. In all some 27% of all students from the seven accountancy bodies surveyed were studying in the UK and ROI.

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