Accountancy continues to be one of the most popular options for young people who are considering their career options. In Malta the accountancy profession can boast full employment.
There are various routes that an individual can take to become an accountant. In Malta the main qualifications are ACCA (offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants - ACCA), ACA (offered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales - ICAEW) and the Masters in Accountancy. The former are UK qualifications that are offered in Malta by ACCA and ICAEW in collaboration with the Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA), whilst the latter course is offered by the University of Malta (UoM). These qualifications are recognised by the Accountancy Board for registration as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in terms of Maltese law.
Part 1 – The International Passports to an Accountancy Qualification
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), is a globally recognised qualification. ACCA has over 110 years of experience, innovation and excellence. The association champions opportunity within accountancy, demonstrates excellence through their suite of qualifications, and acts as a driving force within the accounting profession to constantly improve working practices.
In order to become a qualified ACCA member, a student must complete:
- The professional level of exams
- The ethical requirements as outlined by ACCA
- Three years practical, relevant work experience.
On the other hand, studying ACA will allow the student to become a Chartered Accountant. The ICAEW chartered accountancy qualification, the ACA, is one of the most advanced learning and professional development programmes available. The ACA has as four key components:
- Professional development
- Ethics and professional scepticism
- Practical work experience
- Accountancy, finance and business modules.
MIA - ACCA joint examination scheme
For those ACCA and ACA graduates who are then interested in obtaining the local certificate to practice accountancy, the Institute would be their next port of call. The MIA - ACCA Joint Scheme was established in 1973 and brought about International recognition of the Institute's own qualification by virtue of which MIA graduates would be granted exemptions when pursuing ACCA studies overseas. MIA's relationship with ACCA was fully consolidated in 2003 through the ACCA-MIA Joint Examination Scheme agreement (JES) with which graduates obtained both ACCA and, subject to them sitting for the local variant papers, an MIA qualification. In 2013, ACA students started benefiting from this scheme in view of a multi-lateral agreement between MIA, ACCA and ICAEW.
The JES includes two main subjects, advanced Maltese tax and Maltese law that are required by the Accountancy Profession Act (CAP 281 of the Laws of Malta) before qualified individuals are given a certificate to practice the profession of accountant in Malta. Additionally if the individual wishes to register as an auditor, then he or she would need to pass the relevant audit and assurance papers.
Part 2 – The changing face of accountancy education at the University of Malta
The year 1978 symbolised a very important change in the status of accounting within the Maltese archipelago. Indeed not only did the Department of Accountancy offer another possible route to qualification complement the then existing route provided by the MIA but it also represented the upgrading of accountancy as a discipline eligible to be studied as an academic subject within a university.
Until 1987, the Department of Accountancy offered a five year under-graduate course in accountancy. In May 1987, then rector the late Professor Rev. Peter Serracino Inglott introduced a general under-graduate three year course in commerce. This created the B.Com course but it also triggered a spin-off whereby those eligible and thinking of pursuing a career in accountancy would immediately join the stream labelled as 'major in accountancy'. So subsequently to obtaining an overall 65% or better in the B.Com (major accounting stream), students would then have been eligible to further another two years and obtain a B.Accountancy (Hons) degree.
Following the Bologna Process, the UoM had to review all of its under-graduate programmes in such a way that a first degree does not straddle over three years. Consequently, the B.Accountancy (Hons) degree changed to an M.Accountancy (Hons) degree. This also meant that students had to prepare a 25,000 dissertation (Min 20,000) rather than a 10,000 one.
Accountancy is an illustrious career choice, and the accountancy qualifications available in Malta all offer a passport to success. A qualified professional accountant joins the ranks of peers in other professions too, such as lawyers and doctors. And the public wants to be assured that the lawyers, doctors and accountants we rely on for expert advice are tested, trained, and developed to their full potential, in a fair, balanced and robust way. Being an accountant demands expert knowledge, immense responsibility and someone who recognises their own strengths.
 The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries designed to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher education qualifications.
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