How the ICAS Foundation is creating future CAs
Eleanor O’Neill finds out how the ICAS Foundation has been changing the lives of students and helping them realise their dreams.
The ICAS Foundation supports academically talented young people from disadvantaged communities through their university studies in accountancy and finance related fields.
Thanks to the donations of generous CAs and corporate partners, the ICAS Foundation has offered assistance to over 100 students and school leavers since the first bursary was awarded in 2013.
Gemma, currently in her fourth year of an accountancy degree, was one of the first to benefit from the charity.
"I set my heart on going to university and had an ambition to study accountancy," she explained. "I began to research how I could make that a reality. I was lucky enough to find the ICAS Foundation advertised on a university scholarship page.
I set my heart on going to university and had an ambition to study accountancy.
"The ICAS Foundation made attending university possible for me by providing the financial support I so desperately needed to relocate from my remote Highland village to Edinburgh."
Gemma has always maintained a record of academic excellence and was recognised as the top performing student of accountancy in her second year.
"A brighter future, which I used to only dream of, is now becoming a reality," she said.
The Foundation accepts applications from school leavers who have been accepted onto accountancy and finance courses and college students that are preparing to advance and gain a university degree.
The funds awarded through bursaries and grants go towards books, travel, living expenses and equipment like laptops, making a higher education possible for gifted young people who would be denied the chance otherwise.
"I originally talked myself out of ever going to university," admitted Lewis, a second year student at the University of Stirling. "I always thought there was no point in trying as I was never going to be able to afford going further."
Lewis relocated to Stirling from the Isle of Mull and adjusted to city life with the help of the Foundation.
"There's two other people I know on my course who are part of the ICAS Foundation. You feel like you are a part of something and that there are expectations for you.
"It has given me confidence in the work I have done at university so far. My mentor and the people at the Foundation believe in me and hope that I do well. That drives me to achieve."
The benefits of experience
In addition to financial support, the ICAS Foundation helps students secure internships and provides mentors for guidance through their academic career.
Ryan was raised in South Ayrshire by his grandfather, alongside two brothers, and worked hard to attain high grades all through school.
Now in his third year at the University of Strathclyde, he acknowledged the networking opportunities that come from being part of the programme.
"The ICAS Foundation has opened up doors to me that I never could have been able to open up myself. I wouldn't have had the chance to meet and network with employers and influential individuals," he said.
Dean, who spent much of his high school career balancing exams with an early-morning delivery job, is just starting out at university. He is looking forward to also making full use of the advantages the ICAS Foundation offers.
"As well as the financial support and peace of mind having that assistance provides, I feel like the Foundation will make a big difference through the dedicated mentoring scheme.
You have the opportunity to reach out a helping hand, to help aspiring CAs into a brighter, more promising future.
"I can see great benefit in CAs helping students in their studies. Taking the time to share their real-life career experiences helps put our studies into a better context."
Ryan agreed: "CAs get a lot out of the profession themselves and I feel like most of them want to give back in some way. Donating to the ICAS Foundation or becoming a mentor is an excellent way to do that."
According to Gemma, the impact of offering such support can be immense.
"You have the opportunity to reach out a helping hand, to help aspiring CAs into a brighter, more promising future.
"Small gestures have the power to change lives. We will commit to giving back and helping future generations in the way we were helped."
The next generation of CAs
For many ICAS Foundation students, studying for the CA qualification with ICAS is the logical next step after university.
"The knowledge and experience gained through attaining the CA qualification will be priceless," said Gemma. "Becoming a CA will help me to achieve my full potential and having the highly regarded CA letters after my name it will open doors globally."
"Gaining the CA qualification is my main career goal," added Lewis. "It's definitely what I see myself doing after university. From what I've heard from my mentor, a retired CA, it seems to open so many doors into so many different sectors."
I feel like the ICAS qualification is the oldest and most respected in accountancy. Employers know that.
"The CA is such a recognised qualification," noted Dean. "It will help me create a platform into the profession and open up possible job opportunities."
"I feel like the ICAS qualification is the oldest and most respected in accountancy. Employers know that," said Ryan. "If you know that you want to go into accountancy or finance or business, and you have the ambition to succeed in your studies and career, then there are people who want to help you do that."
"I would recommend the ICAS Foundation to every single individual whom it might benefit," Gemma agreed. "I have shared with several people how it has transformed my life and how it could do the same for them."
Linda Jamieson, Head of the ICAS Foundation, said: “The work that we do is immensely important and beneficial to academically talented individuals who deserve the opportunity to study what they are passionate about and get ahead in life.
“We rely on the generosity of CAs to help us support an education in accountancy or finance for these young people who could very well shape the future of ICAS.”
For more information about the ICAS Foundation, to become a mentor, offer an internship or to make a charitable donation, visit the dedicated website and find out how you can change a life.
The ICAS Foundation is a charity registered in Scotland SCO34836.