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Students' responsibilities

Students must register with us, apply for any credit for prior learning, enter for and pass the ACA exams, complete professional development, ethics and professional scepticism and practical work experience.

The ACA training agreement requires the student to take much of the responsibility for their development during training. This helps reduce the administrative time for employers.

Student registration

It is a students’ responsibility to register with us. They should only do this once your organisation has carried out any required checks and then instructed the student to register. When a student registers they are effectively registering their ACA training agreement with ICAEW and that their training has begun. Students must register well in advance of any exam entry deadlines.

We prefer students to register online. For this they will need your training office number. This allows only your students to register against your organisation. The QPRT of your organisation will be sent written confirmation of the students who have registered with your organisation.

Students can also register by hard copy form. There are different versions available according to which entry route students have come from.

Apply for credit for prior learning

Where students have previous relevant professional qualifications or experience they may be eligible to apply for credit for prior learning (CPL). You may also know this as exemptions. As an employer, you can decide whether you are happy for your student to apply for any available credit. You may decide that your students, irrespective of any previous qualifications of experience, should complete all exam modules. Students should therefore only apply for CPL with your permission.

Pass the examinations

Students are responsible for studying for and passing exams. Employers should provide encouragement and support as defined within the training agreement. There are exam resources available that your students will find useful when studying for their exams.

Practical work experience

Practical work experience is gained as part of a student’s training agreement. They are required to complete at least 450 practical work experience days (or 300 if eligible), which normally takes between three and five years. The knowledge, skills and experience they gain as part of their training agreement enable your students to put what they are learning into practice.

Students working in audit registered firms who wish to record audit experience must maintain a record of their audit days. Students log their practical work experience and audit experience within their online training file.

For more on gaining audit experience and the Audit Qualification go to icaew.com/aq.

Professional development

Professional development is made up of seven ladders, which your students will work their way through while training for the ACA. Each ladder represents a theme, or related set of skills. Where they start and how fast you progress up each ladder is flexible and will be managed by you. The seven ladders are:

  1. Communication
  2. Team working
  3. Decision making
  4. Consideration
  5. Adding value
  6. Problem solving
  7. Technical competence

Each ladder contains seven or eight steps, each representing a skill. Students are required to demonstrate each skill by providing an example from their practical work experience. Students log their progress within their online training file unless they are following your accredited professional development programme.

Ethics and professional scepticism

Ethics is more than just knowing the rules around confidentiality, integrity, objectivity and independence. It’s about identifying ethical dilemmas, understanding the implications and behaving appropriately. Ethics is integrated throughout the ACA qualification to develop your students’ ethical capabilities – so they’ll always know how to make the right decisions and justify them.

Six-monthly reviews

All students must have a review meeting with their employer at least every six months throughout their training. These reviews are to discuss the student’s progress and development and identify any further support they may require. Six-monthly reviews are not optional - they are a requirement of the ACA training agreement.

Ultimately it is a student’s responsibility to arrange these reviews. However, as an employer you should do everything to facilitate these meetings. Failure to do so could affect the authorisation status of your organisation.

For more information, please contact the main employer helpline on +44 (0)1908 248 250 or email studentsupport@icaew.com