CA Magazine Dec 2021 / Jan 22 - New Year's Resolution (Support)

ICAS Foundation is on a mission to make accountancy accessible to all – and you can help provide the necessary support throughout 2022 and beyond

While 2021 has proved another eventful and restless year, one thing that has remained steady is the ICAS Foundation commitment to improving the accessibility of the accountancy profession. Launched in 2012, the foundation offers bursaries of up to £2,500 a year, as well as mentoring, to help in opening the door for young people from less privileged backgrounds who want to study  accountancy and finance at university.

And it is support that has powerful real-world impact on careers and lives, enabling opportunity, promoting social mobility and encouraging talent. Recent research by the independent think tank Institute for Fiscal Studies found that two-thirds or more of graduates from all socio-economic and ethnic groups are better off financially as a result of a university education. However, when structural and socio-economic inequality can seem to provide insurmountable barriers, this could feel like a case of “statistics for the privileged”.

The difference the foundation’s support can make in lowering barriers to those who have talent but might lack resources or support is huge. To date, it has helped more than 290 students to complete their studies and progress their careers with confidence. As the profile of the foundation’s work has risen among ICAS members, so too have its ambitions to enable opportunity for all and broaden the industry pipeline. Encouraging a diverse and inclusive workforce is also key to keeping the financial industry relevant and agile for a future in which myriad perspectives will be needed to create solutions and keep up with digital progress.


What many ICAS members might not know, though, is that the foundation’s work relies on members’ donations to keep it operating and growing as a charity. Although ICAS contributes generously to the foundation each year, it is a separate entity – which also means that ICAS members need to give their permission to be contacted by the foundation. This year, for the first time, a question will be included in the annual renewal to ask members to opt in to receive direct communications.

It’s easy for ICAS members to help support the next generation of accountants, whether as a mentor, with opportunities found on the foundation website, or by donating. They can do this when completing their ICAS annual renewal, via the foundation website or by setting up a standing order (remembering to tick the Gift Aid box for maximum tax relief). Even a small donation can make a significant difference to a new career, helping someone with talent to complete their studies and fulfil their potential – surely one of the best investments for 2022.


Dean Scobie

Dean Scobie is an ICAS Foundation graduate, with a first-class honours degree in accountancy from Glasgow Caledonian University.

I had always been good at exams at school and thought university would be a good path to take. In my fourth year, I took a business management course that featured some accounting. I enjoyed it, so I carried it on to my highers.

I found out about ICAS Foundation at a school career talk and applied for and received the bursary. If you’re studying and have a commitment to working a part-time job as well it can be really hard – so that bursary definitely helped relieve some of the financial pressure on me at university. I am also the first person from my family to go to university, so no one knew what the experience entailed. Neither of my parents has an academic background, my dad is a taxi driver and my mum has a part-time job. So having a foundation mentor there, someone who had already been down this route and knew what was expected, was really useful. It gave me the advantage of having someone to get advice from – and I got the chance to attend events I wouldn’t have otherwise, including the ICAS annual dinner.

I graduated in 2020 and have joined a Glasgow firm as an audit assistant, working towards becoming a CA. When I pass my exams, I’m definitely going to give back to the foundation. I’ve been in the position of its students and I know first-hand how much it helps.


Chris Campbell CA

Chris Campbell CA qualified in 2008 and is a member of ICAS Council. He makes a monthly donation to ICAS Foundation.

ICAS Foundation didn’t exist when I started my accountancy journey. And I spent much of my childhood in a single parent household, where money was tight, so I can easily relate to the challenges that some young people have to face – and see the benefits of the foundation’s support.

I’ve been donating monthly over the past couple of years by direct debit, which was quick and easy to set up on the website. Of course, significant donations are always appreciated by the foundation but even a small donation makes a difference and can help the pipeline of talent to come through. Many students say that the support they received made all the difference between the door opening for them and its remaining shut.

Having come through the process of becoming a CA themselves, ICAS members are in a unique position to help others to do the same. Supporting talent in this way is equally crucial for the profession’s long-term future. So, I encourage any CA to think about giving back, whether by donating or becoming a mentor, which is an equally important part of the help that foundation students receive.

If a young person has the talent and the willingness to invest the hard work necessary to gain the professional qualification, then a career as a CA could be for them. We need to continue to make sure that the profession is open to everyone, regardless of their background.


The ICAS Foundation is a registered Scottish charity No SC034836.

You can support the work of the ICAS Foundation by donating, volunteering to mentor a student or providing an internship or work placement. You can also contact us to discuss a specific area where you would like to help.

This article was originally published in the ICAS CA Magazine, December 2021 / January 2022.