Expectations for CGA Students
Belonging to a Professional Association
Respectful Workplace Policy
Statement of Responsibility
Act, Bylaws and Code of Ethics
National Academic Integrity Policy
Restrictions on Students Offering Services to the Public
Reference to "CGA Student"
Use of the CPA Designation
Belonging to a Professional Association
There is a significant difference between acquiring an education through a professional association rather than through a post-secondary educational institution. Generally, your relationship with a college or university ends with graduation; however, your relationship with CGA-BC begins as a student and continues throughout your professional career as a CGA.
The CGA Program is a professional study program that requires commitment, self-discipline, organization and planning. CGA-BC’s comprehensive program takes a unique earning-while-learning approach. After certification, learning continues throughout the member’s career, with ongoing annual professional development requirements for members.
Respectful Workplace Policy
Existing legislation gives everyone equal opportunity to work and live without being hindered by discriminatory practices and requires that all employers provide a healthy and respectful work environment free from harassment. CGA-BC has adopted a respectful workplace policy. CGA-BC does not condone and will not tolerate any conduct, comment, gesture or contact that may discriminate on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religious belief, family or marital status, physical or mental disability, gender, sexual orientation or age or cause offence, humiliation or intimidation to any person. The policy applies to all dealings with Association staff, students, members, suppliers and the public.
CGA students are reminded that the online course forums and related features are to be used for collaborative study purposes only. Abuse of the course forums may lead to disciplinary measures. Users are encouraged to report any instances of inappropriate behaviour, such as plagiarism and derogatory or harassing comments, to CGA-BC. Further information on this policy can be found online in the course forums.
Statement of Responsiblity
Regardless of your educational background, the CGA Program will be different from your previous educational endeavours. While you will spend many hours completing the required CGA courses and examinations, the CGA Program is not primarily an academic program. It is a program that certifies your competence to offer services to employers and the public as a professional accountant – as a CGA.
There are many other important differences between post-secondary educational institutions and the CGA Program, including:
- CGA is a privately funded, non-profit professional association. We do not receive funding from provincial or federal governments.
- Examinations and course material development are national responsibilities of CGA-Canada. No provincial lecturer, marker or CGA-BC staff member has control over any aspect of the course materials or examinations.
- Course assignments prepare students for examinations. In Levels 1-4, course assignment work counts for up to 30 per cent of a student’s final grade. In the PACE Level, the final examination counts for 100 per cent of the final grade.
- Students do not have direct access to their examinations once they have been written, nor may students see their examination paper, which is the property of CGA-Canada. For a fee, students may request written feedback on an examination in the form of a re-grade, critique or a Professional Applications review.
- The CGA Program is an online, individual study program. Students are required to demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge required of a professional accountant.
As a result, students must:
- Accept the responsibility to make themselves aware of deadlines, regulations and policies that affect them as students. As a self-funded professional body, CGA-BC’s staff resources are limited in comparison with post-secondary institutions. CGA-BC staff make every attempt to ensure that the necessary information is available, either in print or on the CGA-BC website. This Handbook, for example, contains essential information about policies, procedures, examinations, regulations and guidelines. However, it is your responsibility to be aware of this information, and to act upon it as necessary.
- Accept the responsibility to comply with CGA-BC’s rules of professional conduct as described in the Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct. In addition, you agree to comply with CGA-BC’s Respectful Workplace Policy and all other policies contained in this Handbook.
- Accept the responsibility to be self-motivated and develop the personal resources necessary to complete the program and attain your CGA designation. Other people – markers, lecturers, examination reviewers, fellow students and Association staff – can only guide and assist you; you must lead yourself.
- Officially notify Student Services if you change your legal name after applying and being accepted into the CGA Program. You must provide notice in writing and with official documentation of the change (for example, a photocopy of a marriage certificate). Similarly, if you are providing documents to CGA-BC that have been issued under a previous name, you must also provide official documentation of the name change.
- Update all changes of employment, address, email, and telephone number under My CGA-BC, so that course materials, CGA publications, transaction confirmations, Education Certificates and any other correspondence reach you in a timely manner.
Your enrolment in the CGA Program signifies your acceptance of these responsibilities.
Act, Bylaws and Code of Ethics
The Accountants (Certified General) Act is the governing legislation for CGA-BC. Although CGA-BC was originally incorporated in 1951, the Act was amended in 1996 and is administered by the Ministry of Advanced Education. All students are required to comply with the CGA-BC Act, Bylaws and Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct. Students should also review the CGA-Canada Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct, which is available through Blackboard OLE. This resource is referenced in all CGA courses. CGA-Canada’s code is slightly different than CGA-BC’s.
National Academic Integrity Policy
CGA students are expected to display a high level of ethical behaviour and integrity. Students are expected to strictly adhere to the National Academic Integrity Policy, which specifically governs assignments and examinations. The policy outlines what is expected of students; identifies a list of academic integrity violations, which are not exhaustive; and identifies the consequences of not complying with this policy.
Assignment and Examinations – Expectations of CGA Students
Assignments and examinations delivered through the CGA Program of Professional Studies will help you develop the competencies required of professional accountants. Therefore, it is important that you put in the work it takes to be successful within the program, which requires commitment, self-discipline, organization and planning.
In terms of assignments, CGA-Canada recognizes that studying in groups is beneficial to students and is encouraged. However, answers to assignment questions MUST be produced on an individual basis, unless expressly noted. Therefore, all work you submit for any course assignment or business case MUST be your original work completed during the session for that course. Any work copied from another source is a violation of the National Academic Integrity Policy.
Plagiarism is another critical violation of the National Academic Integrity Policy. Plagiarism is a form of copying that occurs any time someone copies from published material without acknowledging the source. More specifically, plagiarism occurs wherever a student:
- Presents work authored in part or in whole by another person as their own.
- Presents the words, ideas, images or data of another person as their own, without reference to the original author or the original source.
- Presents work that contains unreasonably long quotes, even when properly cited.
- Presents work done for another course or program without the knowledge of or prior approval of the marker.
- Presents work that in any way compromises the integrity of the evaluation process.
- Presents work that is substantially similar to another person’s work.
Markers use computer software to check for plagiarism. This software highlights assignment answers copied from suggested solutions, textbooks, course module notes, marker comment sheets and other sources. Markers are required to report any incidence of a suspected assignment violation to the Association.
All examination work must be completed on an individual basis. All responses to examination questions must be original work done by a student during the examination. Cheating of any kind is a violation of the National Academic Integrity Policy. Exam invigilators are required to report any incidence of a suspected examination violation to the Association.
Academic Integrity Violations – Assignment Violations
CGA-BC considers the following to be assignment and/or examination violations. This list is not exhaustive and will not preclude consequences for other infractions.
Assignment violations include:
- Copying from another student's assignment.
- Copying from your own previously graded assignment.
- Copying materials from a marker's comment sheet, suggested solution or any other source.
- Inappropriate posting/distributing of answers from a marker’s comment sheet, suggested solution or any other source.
- Copying the words, ideas or data of another person/resource. This extends beyond the misuse of CGA course materials and includes the potential misuse of all intellectual property.
- Improper citing of external sources. In general, you are expected to respond to questions by expressing your thoughts in your own words. Any reference to external sources must be properly cited.
- Pretending to be someone else or attempting to have yourself represented by another student when submitting assignments or participating in group work.
Consequences for Assignment Violations
All violations are both unprofessional and unethical. If a student’s assignment or examination is found to have breached the National Academic Integrity Policy, CGA-BC may administer consequences against the student.
Consequences for assignment violations can include:
- An official reprimand letter of warning from the Association that will be placed in the student’s permanent file.
- A mark of zero on the assignment question and an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s permanent file.
- A mark of zero on the entire assignment and an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s permanent file.
- Failure in the course (DNQ – Does Not Qualify) and an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s permanent file.
- Failure in the course (DNQ), including an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s permanent file, and immediate suspension from the CGA Program. The student can only apply to be re-admitted into the CGA Program after the suspension period has expired; if re-admitted, the student would be required to complete the CGA Program in effect at the date of re-admission.
Academic Integrity Violations – Examination Violations
Examination violations include:
- Copying from another student’s examination.
- Allowing another student to copy from your exam.
- Using any electronic devices that allow transmission.
- Writing past the allotted examination time or attempting to complete examination questions before the start of the examination.
- Communicating with another student during the examination (regardless of the nature of the discussion) or exchanging notes.
- Using materials that are not identified as ‘allowable’ examination room materials.
- Neglecting to adhere to the ‘non-disclosed’ examination policy.
- Pretending to be someone else or attempting to have yourself represented by another person when taking an exam.
Students are expected to be aware of and act within the Canadian law of copyright: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/.
- An official reprimand letter of warning from the Association that will be placed in the student’s file.
- A mark of zero on the examination and an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s file.
- A mark of zero on the examination, including an official reprimand letter from the Association that will be placed in the student’s file and immediate suspension from the CGA Program. The student can only apply to be re-admitted into the CGA Program after the suspension period has expired; if re-admitted, the student would be required to complete the CGA Program in effect at the date of re-admission.
The application of academic consequences proceeds as follows:
- The Association is notified by a marker, examination invigilator, student or another credible source of the suspected academic integrity violation.
- The Manager, Education investigates to determine whether the complaint is valid. If it is a valid complaint, the Manager, Education will contact the student(s) in question.
- The student(s) have an opportunity to provide their facts against the complaint (if any).
- The Director, Education & Student Services determines if the application of an academic consequence is required and the nature of the consequence based on the severity of the violation.
- The student(s) are officially notified of the violation and the consequences being administered.
- The student(s) have the right to appeal the decision. This appeal must be submitted to the Director, Education & Student Services within 10 days of being notified of the Association’s decision.
- If the decision is appealed, the Association’s disciplinary policies and procedures will apply. The appeal body has the discretion to rescind the original applied consequence, allow the original consequence to stand unchanged, or administer another consequence based on the facts of the case.
There is no time limit on the retroactive nature of the application of these consequences.
The National Academic Integrity Policy is specifically related to assignment and examination violations. Detailed information regarding general assignment and examination procedures, such as submitting assignments and allowable examination room materials, is included in this Handbook. In addition, all students are required to comply with CGA-Canada’s Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct and the Ethics Reading Handbook, available in Blackboard OLE. These resources are referenced in all CGA courses. Other forms of student misconduct are beyond the scope of this National Academic Integrity Policy. Issues such as theft, defamation, lying and other misconduct fall under the direct authority of the CGA-BC Act, Bylaws and Code of Ethical Principals and Rules of Conduct.
CGA-BC expects that students will choose the right path on their journey to become CGAs and build a solid ethical foundation while they work through their studies. CGA-BC hopes that students will sidestep any temptation to breach any of its regulations. As the preamble to the Ethics Reading Handbook states:
“To do the right thing requires both knowing and choosing what is right …Thoughtful attention to ethics during your studies will help prepare you for the ethical challenges you will face as a CGA.”
Starting in 2011-2012, CGA-BC began posting concluded cases of plagiarism on its website. No personal student information is disclosed – only general facts, violation details and the consequences applied. Our intent is to raise students’ awareness of what constitutes a violation and the consequences of various violations. CGA students are strongly advised to take the necessary time to review the National Academic Integrity Policy of violations and consequences that may apply to ensure they are familiar with the CGA policy on plagiarism.
Restrictions on Students
Offering Services to the Public
Students are governed by the CGA-BC Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Conduct (the Code), which limits the type of services they can offer to or perform for the public. What defines these limitations is based on several rules within the Code as well as the Code’s definition of the practice of public accounting.
The Code, as of September 24, 2011, defines the practice of public accounting as:
(a) Providing or offering to provide one or more of the following services to the public
- an assurance engagement;
- a specified auditing procedures engagement;
- a compilation engagement;
- an accounting service insofar as it involves summarization, analysis, advice, counsel or interpretation but excluding an accounting service which is incidental to the provider’s primary occupation which is not public accounting;
- forensic accounting, financial investigation or financial litigation support services;
- advice, counsel or interpretation with respect to taxation matters; and
- the preparation of a tax return or other statutory filing.
(b) A member who is employed in the practice of public accounting is not considered to be engaged in the practice of public accounting. This exemption does not apply to employees of firms that are owned, operated or controlled by a non‐arms length person or persons, and that are not CGA, CA or CMA firms registered with, and regulated by, their respective associations.
Students in Public Practice Firms
Part (b) of the definition of the practice of public accounting differentiates between being “engaged” and “employed” in public practice. While being employed is self-explanatory, being “engaged” means ownership of a public practice firm. Students are not permitted to own a public practice firm, per Rule R523:
Rule R523 Students in the Practice of Public Accounting
A student shall not engage in the practice of public accounting independently or in association with others. This Rule shall not restrict a student from being an employee of a firm. This exemption does not apply to employees of firms that are owned, operated or controlled by a non-arm’s-length person or persons, and that are not CGA, CA or CMA firms registered with, and regulated by, their respective associations.
Students employed in a public practice firm are not restricted to the services listed below in the “Students Providing Bookkeeping Services to the Public on a Self-Employed Basis” section, as their employer, rather than the student, is responsible for these services.
Per Diem Work in Public Practice Firms
Students who work on a per diem basis for CGA, CA or CMA firms are remunerated based on an hourly rate and for a specified period of time. Although the student’s status is not that of an employee, this work arrangement is permitted due to the accounting firm’s responsibility for the work performed by the student.
Students Providing Services to the Public on a Self-Employed Basis That Do Not Require Registration in Public Practice
Note that while some services not requiring registration in public practice may be provided to the public by a student, providing these services on a self-employed basis is not encouraged and is not considered acceptable practical experience for the CGA Program of Professional Studies. An employee arrangement is far more beneficial at the student level.
If you are an employee rather than self-employed, your employer carries responsibility for your work. However, if you are a student who is self-employed, you are responsible for the work performed. The lists below outline the work you are and are not allowed to perform if you are self-employed:
- data-entry to trial balance,
- bank reconciliations,
- accounts receivable reconciliation and ageing,
- accounts payable reconciliation and ageing,
- inventory reconciliation,
- payroll calculations with no filings,
- preparation of personal tax returns, if competent to do so, for family members and close friends only, and
- preparation of personal tax returns on a voluntary basis, if competent to do so, for low-income taxpayers, if provided through a Not-For-Profit organization.
- preparation of any financial statements,
- preparation of a tax return or other statutory filings (for example, filings of GST, HST, PST, payroll filings T4s, T4 summaries, Record of Employment forms, WorkSafeBC Employer Payroll and Contract Labour Reports, T5s, Not-For-Profit information returns, etc.),
- any involvement with the performance of assurance engagements (audit or review engagements),
- any involvement with performance of a specified auditing procedures engagement (Legal or Real Estate Trust Examination),
- any involvement with the performance of a compilation engagement,
- accounting service insofar as it involves summarization, analysis, advice, counsel or interpretation but excluding an accounting service that is incidental to the provider’s primary occupation which is not public accounting,
- charging a fee to undertake preparation of personal tax returns, even if competent to do so,
- preparation of personal tax returns, on a voluntary basis, for the public, except for that listed in the permitted services section above,
- forensic accounting, financial investigation or financial litigation support service, and
- advice, counsel or interpretation with respect to taxation matters.
On a self-employed basis, a student can provide data-entry services to their clients. Is it acceptable to provide financial statements to them as well?
No, a student is not permitted to provide financial statements to their clients because this type of service requires registration in public practice, which is denied to students. This applies to software program generated statements as well as those prepared manually. Clients may erroneously associate the provider of the financial statements as the party who has the capability to prepare them therefore, this association must be reserved for the client’s public practitioner.
Many software programs have the capability to arrange the trial balance into a financial statement format. Only members who are registered in public practice on a full basis may provide financial statements to their clients. Students should limit themselves to providing clients with a trial balance.
Please note, as part of the annual enrolment process, students will be required to indicate whether or not they are employed in the practice of public accounting.
For further information, please contact our Public Practice Division staff:
Brigitte Ilk, CGA
Manager, Public Practice Research & Development
604.629.8363 or toll free 1.800.565.1211 extension 363
Reference to "CGA Student"
Students are not allowed to make any reference to the Certified General Accountants Association, its name or its designation in any way except on their curriculum vitae (resumé), and then only by referring to themselves as a “student currently registered in the CGA Program of Professional Studies” or as a “PACE Level CGA student” or “Foundation Level CGA Student” – whatever is appropriate – as this wording is descriptive and meaningful to employers. However, a student can never refer to themselves simply as a CGA. Students should note that approved applicants are not considered CGA students until they have officially enrolled in the CGA Program.
Rule R614 Use of CGA Reference by Students states:
“Students shall not make any reference to the Association, its name or its designation on stationery, business cards, business announcements, business directories, office signs or advertising.”
Use of the CPA Designation
In B.C., CGA students with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation are not permitted to use this designation after their name. However, when a student graduates and becomes a CGA member, and the CPA designation is from the United States, they may officially register this designation with CGA-BC to receive permission to use it after their name. The CPA designation may only be displayed in B.C. by designated CGAs (and Chartered Accountants) and must be accompanied by the name of the state or territory of the United States of America where the CPA designation was granted, as specified under Section 14(4) of the Accountants (Certified General) Act, and Bylaw B118. It must be used or displayed together with and follow the designation “Certified General Accountant” or “CGA” and can only be used if the jurisdiction where the CPA designation was granted authorizes the person to use and display CPA in that jurisdiction.