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Nelson Mandela University School of Accounting graduates Hayley Ward and Charis du Plessis did not let national lockdown take the fizz out of festivities on Friday when they learnt they were top and fourth placed students in the national South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) standard setting exam.

School of Accounting academic trainees Ward, 22, placed first and Du Plessis, 22, fourth in the 2020 SAICA Initial Test of Competency (ITC) examination written at the end of January. The ITC is the first of two professional examinations required for qualification as chartered accountants.

These results, together with the performance of the Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences’ Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA-CTA) class of 2019  helped Nelson Mandela University to achieve the highest pass rate in the country for first time candidates.

“It was definitely a shock, I didn’t expect it at all and it was just such a good way to close off the year. We celebrated - at home of course! It was weird because normally you’d go out for a big lunch,” Ward said.

Ward, who stays in Woodlands, was a pupil at Collegiate Girls High School and Du Plessis went to Alexander Road High School.

“I heard my results on Friday 27 March but we couldn’t go anywhere to celebrate because we were all locked in our houses,” Du Plessis said from her parents’ home in Framesby. 

“I probably would have just done something fairly low key, but significant, anyway. Luckily, we had a bottle of champagne and I popped it outside on the lawn with my family.

“It was very nice to get the news in the midst of all that is going on, it really helped to brighten the mood!”

Ward and Du Plessis were also part of the Pinnacle Leadership Programme from their first year – a holistic development programme for top achievers in the School of Accounting.

An impressive 93% of the 2019 PGDA-CTA graduates passed the 2020 SAICA ITC examination on their first attempt – this compares very favourably with the national pass rate of 68% for first time attempts.

The pass rate of black African students is 87%, which is considerably higher than the national pass rate of 56% for first time attempts by black African candidates. Based on this achievement, Nelson Mandela University places second countrywide.

Head of Department Professor Amanda Singleton said “these outstanding results confirm the high quality of the programme offered by Nelson Mandela University to educate students wishing to become Chartered Accountants (SA). The School of Accounting is extremely proud of these graduates.”

This article was written by Gillian McAinsh, 071 850 1662, and appeared in The Herald of 1 April 2020