Degree, degree hoti ha !!

Written by: Usama Ata ur Rehman

Have you seen three Idiots? Father of Ranchordas (the original one, not Aamir Khan) knew the importance of having a degree and knew his son may not cut it out. So on finding out the talent of “Chotay” (Aamir Khan) decides that chotay will get enrolled in the most prestigious university of the country by the name of Ranchordas, will study, get a degree in the name of Ranchordas and his family will finally have someone other than “Angotha Chap”, a degree holder!

“Paisay buhat kam hain” this was the main complain I had during the articles. I, like many trainee students, thought that this was the most important issue concerning the students and that it is highly unfair treatment of students by ICAP and the firms. We often discussed “sastay mazdoor milay huay inhain” and during the whole 3.5 years of training thought of ourselves as exploited, suppressed class of labors whose demands were not heard anywhere at all.

But was it really the biggest problem concerning the trainees? After my articles ended, I was welcomed by a harsh reality, there was a thing which we never thought of during the articles nor there was and is any guidance regarding it. The stipend paid to trainees was a trivial matter in comparison to another important aspect that was and is ignored by the trainee students.

“Beta tumne B.Com zarur karna he!” (Why would I care about that? I am about to start CA) then the Late Sir Ishfaq somehow realizing I would not get it, turned to my father and said “Isko B.Com zarur karwana”. My father listened to the advice and I did my B.Com and today I, a qualified Chartered Accountant, is doing this highly paid job and my VISA gets renewed on that B.Com degree which I hold (In U.A.E for a Manager Job, getting employment VISA is conditional with having a Bachelors Degree). This was the story told to me by a CA working in UAE after my articles ended and I was searching for a job and went to him for advice.

The nutshell and the conclusion, for me a realization, was that being a graduate was the most important thing that mattered while entering the job market. I thought “Why nobody made me realize it” we had many discussions with peers and teachers, nobody ever made me, and other students realize the importance and value of being a graduate and holding a Bachelor’s degree.

The fact is that CA is a professional certification program which is different from your academic or educational qualification. You must understand, the two are different things and are not an alternate or replacement of each other. All the students who start the CA program must not halt their academic qualification at F.Sc or O Levels. You will be left way behind the world. Everywhere outside Pakistan, the first thing, the first requisite, the first key to the door of the job market is the educational qualification you possess and by that I mean on the minimum, at the very least, Bachelors degree you possess. One may say this is ridiculous! You can’t get a job if you don’t have a degree?

Yes, I am not talking about labor jobs or low-level jobs but to be more specific the jobs relevant to us, accounts & finance-related jobs, be it entry-level or managerial level, it has gotten highly impossible to even get considered for the job without a Bachelors degree, all other things come later. Or in a case like U.A.E, you don’t get employment VISA of a Manager category (which has many perks with it) if you don’t have a degree! Your Institute, before the old scheme was abolished, didn’t recognize CA-Intermediate, the certificate every student holds after articles if he/she has not qualified, as any kind of qualification, so how can you expect the outside world to facilitate you on that?

Even talking about Pakistan, yes, the job market here is such that the people sitting in the industry are more familiar with the CA program and know what does CA-Intermediate means but do you know you cannot sit in a CSS exam without a Bachelors degree? I certainly didn’t know that until I made my mind to do CSS but found out I am not eligible for it. Apart from CSS, almost every Government Job’s basic requirement in Pakistan is also a Bachelors Degree.

But we are rarely guided about it. No one highlighted its importance when I was a trainee student. Trainee Students when gets inducted has at least 1.5 years before he becomes eligible to sit in the next level exam. So why not use that time to do graduation, even privately, and yes! Let me tell you that holding a degree is what matters, don’t think that doing it privately will have no value. It will!

So coming back, “Paisay kam hien” was not and is not the most important issue concerning a trainee student. Not having a Bachelors degree is and with it rather than complaining ICAP repeatedly about the stipend, why a coordinated effort has never been made to make ICAP think and work out a mechanism, a scheme, a gateway exam for the CA students who are at the final level to get a Bachelor’s degree. Why we cannot sit at a table and work out with HEC, or whichever authority needs to be convinced, in letting CA Students at the final level an equivalency degree for the CA-Intermediate certificate they hold. One may argue CA-Intermediate was never recognized by ICAP as any sort of qualification so giving equivalency based on that would jeopardize ICAP’s stance. The answer to that is ICAP would have at least worked out a gateway sort of exam for its student’s to get the degree.

Now the modular scheme has been abolished by ICAP and CA-Intermediate has been replaced with CAF – Certificate in Accounting & Finance which ICAP says is a stand-alone certification. My problem here is the same, why ICAP doesn’t make efforts to get this certificate equivalence to a Bachelor’s degree? Or again, at least devise a scheme, a gateway exam to facilitate CAF certificate holders to get a degree.

Having said all that, don’t wait for ICAP. Plan to do graduation alongside your path of becoming a CA. It’s a must if you want to compete rather survive in a job market after your articles. Don’t let your future on Ifs and Buts. Don’t let your future on the whims of luck. Secure your future by doing all the right possible things you can do, then put your faith in Allah to give you what He has written for you.

Once a politician said “Degree, Degree hoti hay, Jali ho ya asli” So, not the fake one, but yes Degree, Degree hoti hay! And it has value more than you think.

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