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University degree or training straight after completing A-Levels? watch

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    Right okay, I know that this subject has been talked about a lot, as I have been researching before posting. But none of the topics really relate totally to my situation.

    I'm in sixth form at the moment in Year 12 and I finish in 18 months. I'm studying Business, English Literature and Finance. (Also planning on taking up Maths as an AS in Year 13 too; I dropped it this year because I got all stressed with personal issues). My business course is a BTEC Award and my Finance is an IFS (Institute of Financial Services) course but both are equivalent to AS and A Levels and carry the same UCAS Tariff points. My predicted grades are high, like a Distinction for Business and A-B's for the rest. I'm also doing an IAB computerised accounts level 2 course at college on one evening a week.

    I've always been interested in Accountancy and I'm sure that's what I want to do. However, I'm completely confused by all the talk of whether to go for a degree then train to be an accountant or go straight into training for ACCA, CIMA etc etc straight after A-Levels with a 'Big Four' company. My Dad's forever like 'No, you have to go to University to get a degree, that's the only way you're ever going to be successful' - but I think he's a little ignorant to the fact that there's more options around nowadays.

    I always thought I wanted to go for Management Accountancy due to my interest with business and economics, but since doing my college course dealing with figures has appealed to me, so now I'm open to all accountancy sectors.

    So, has anyone ever been in this situation, or one similar? And what did you decide to do? Do you think your decision was for the best? Also, help on how difficult it is to get sponsored in a Big Four company would help a great deal too

    P.S. I live in England, UK, so anyone with experiences who also live in the UK would be more helpful than people living in other countries.
    Cheers!

    Edit: Also, would not having a degree stop me from going really far in accountancy? Like I really want to get as high in the accountancy career ladder as I can. Would other people with a degree plus ACCA etc have a hold over me?
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    They may be an equivalent level qualification - however the top universities will not accept them in place of a levels - so you would need to find a university that does.

    If you do decide to do a degree it doesn't have to be in accounting - they take all disciplines but if you do an accounting degree you will be exempt from some professional exams when you do ACCA etc.

    Big4 tend to do CIMA for a very limited number of roles, ACCA tends to headstart/technician roles.

    You have no chance of getting directly onto ACCA with a big4 from college, you will have to do AAT with them first (other companies may accept you direct onto ACCA but most will ask for you to do AAT/CAT first)

    University isn't just about education it is also a social experience and a chance to get more independence from your parents (and also costs a lot!!)

    To be honest as you don't have a degree or actual A levels (which most of the other candidates will have) your chances of getting a job at a big4 are quite slim - you will have more luck at smaller companies

    Once you have finished your ACCA the sky is the limit - degree won't matter too much
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    I would recommend going to Uni and using your time wisely - like getting lots of experience in accounting with local companies, this will not only give you ideas of what area of accounting you want to go into but also will look good on your cv. By doing extra curricular activities and volunteer work etc will greatly help your chances of getting into a big 4 firm. If this is your career aspiration it is not essential that you get on an ACA approved course as most of the big for (if not all?) do not allow you to simply claim your exemptions - you will have to do the course and if you pass the mock you wont have to sit the very end exam. The advantage of an ACA approved course is that it builds your accouting knowledge up and means u dont have to sit that final exam.

    I would look into what 456789 said regarding unis and your qualifications.
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    when i went to an interview a few weeks ago, a girl was doing some kind of accounting degree at exeter and her modules made her exempt from 8 of the aca exams so there are degrees out there that would help you into a career!

    completely from my point of view i wish i knew that accountancy was what i wanted to do before i went to uni. ive finished now and have accepted an offer to start in september but it wouldve been nice to not have spent £18,000 on uni fees and accomodation!
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    My bf has decided to do this kinda thing with KPMG.
    He has applied to uni, but has decided he is going to reject all places to go on the course.
    He had to send off an application, do an online test and soon he has to go for an interview.

    No I am not happy he is not going to university.
    I don't really care about the university experience ad what not, but if he decides half way through it he hates accountancy, wtf is he going to do?!
    In the rest of the world I just don't think an accountancy course holds the same weight as a degree.
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    8 is the maximum amount of exemptions - though most courses give less I think
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    Thanks for all the advice guys . Seems like it's off to University I go.

    They may be an equivalent level qualification - however the top universities will not accept them in place of a levels - so you would need to find a university that does.
    Cheers for raising the issue, I'll speak to my Head of sixth form and ask her about it, if she knows. And also I'll check and e-mail a few top universities. Although, I doubt my sixth form would offer these courses if a lot of universities wouldn't back them up in offers. I'll come to that obstacle when/if it arises I guess :eek3:
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    You're options are so varied depending on what you want to end up doing. If you want to be a practice/tax/audit accountant, I would suggest going to uni, entering a graduate program with a large practice and going into ACA or ACCA from there, but bear in mind you're in for about 6 years of study if you do it that way. Also, if you get a big practice to sponsor your study, you will be tied into a contract, usually a 5 year contract and should you wish to leave the firm early or they fire you (for failing exams perhaps) you will liable to pay back the study fees they paid out for you. If you're interested in management/industry accounting as well as the above, then go out and get a job (a good job ), do the AAT (you'll most likely only have to do Intermediate & Technician - max 2 years study) whilst working, gaining invaluable experience. Also because of your age, you should be able to get partial if not full funding for the AAT from the government, then from there you will have some exemptions from CIMA or ACCA, and you are an attractive applicant for a better job.

    In the wide accountancy world, a degree doesn't always count for much. The majority of the time you need practical experience and an accounting qualification such as the AAT, then CIMA/ACCA/ACA in order to gt a good position/a good salary.

    All the accountants I know, which is many, (one of whom is a senior at Grant Thornton en route to a partnership) advise that in this profession, degrees aren't necessarily the best way to go.

    Sorry, I realise what I've said is a little ambiguous and maybe not helpful.

    I'm an AAT Technician student, set to finish next month (I took a year out of study about 18 months to go spend some of my hard earned cash ). I left school after my GCSEs and I'm now the management accountant for a manufacturing firm, and I earn a very good salary for someone my age. I've never paid a penny for studying the AAT, and each exam I've passed has earned me a pay rise or opened a door into a new & better job. I'm 21 now and have decided to pursue my secondary career, and am applying to start uni in September 2010, my AAT & practical experience means that I will always be able to get a good job, and that I'm able to do a range of part-time work as well. It's going to pay my way through uni now, but if I'd done A-levels and gone to uni, I'd have graduated this summer and would probably still be trying to find my first job whilst being faced with the realisation that if I want to be an accountant, I'd need to do another 3 years of study. Urgh.

    Hope this is somewhat helpful, sorry for rambling.
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    (Original post by xSezx)
    Edit: Also, would not having a degree stop me from going really far in accountancy? Like I really want to get as high in the accountancy career ladder as I can. Would other people with a degree plus ACCA etc have a hold over me?
    Just seen your edit, as previous posters have said, once you've achieved your ACCA or ACA a degree won't count for much. Also what you may find for alot of posts, is that as a graduate with little experience applying for the same role as an MAAT with 3 years work experience, the MAAT is likely to have the upper hand. If you decided uni is the way for you, do as another poster has said, get as much relevant experience as you can.
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    (Original post by maryob)
    usually a 5 year contract and should you wish to leave the firm early or they fire you (for failing exams perhaps) you will liable to pay back the study fees they paid out for you.
    If you leave you have to pay back

    But usually if they sack you then you don't have to pay back
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    Oh sorry, my mistake!
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    If you want to go into industry after qualification then a degree is an advantage (and sometimes a requirement). If you want to stay in practice then the AAT route is probably better.
 
 
 
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