The new qualification program, dubbed the Singapore QP, is a three-year program that will cost S$5,100. Open to all post-graduates, it will become a prerequisite for students wanting to become certified accountants after July 2013.
The programme is a one of the newly-established Singapore Accountancy Commission’s (SAC) cornerstone objectives.
SAC hopes that the programme will raise the capabilities of the accounting profession, and added that the programme will also open up overseas working opportunities.
All this is part of Singapore's drive to transform itself into a leading accountancy hub in the Asia-Pacific region, said the commission, adding that it wants to grow Singapore's accountancy profession through stricter regulations and higher standards.
“Training is not only becoming a lot more rigorous, it's becoming much more formalised... Your work has to be certified and reviewed that you have obtained the right level of work,” said Michael Lim Choo San, chairman of SAC.
Mr Lim pointed out that more than one-quarter of the 400 registrants that attended a Singapore QP information and networking session two weeks ago were students from non-accountancy backgrounds.
"This demonstrates the enormous potential that we at the SAC hope to develop," he said.
SAC also said that the new qualification will also be internationally recognised, allowing Singapore accountants to work abroad, something that they are not able to do now.
“This opens up opportunities to them that didn't exist before and I think it's this growth and opportunities that is exciting, and will create the momentum for the accountancy sector to grow further,” said Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo.
Certified accountants and existing students are exempt from the qualification programme. However, they will not be internationally recognised.
Certified accountants will also undergo a name change. An accountant - now known as a CPA - will soon be called a Chartered Accountant of Singapore. All CPA Singapore holders will be automatically converted to the CA Singapore designation in July 2013.
Students who matriculated in 2012 or earlier will be given until 31 December 2016 to complete their studies and the current Institute of Certified Public Accountants examination or ICPAS. If they pass, they will be given the CPA designation. They will then be automatically converted to the CA Singapore designation.
Male Singaporeans who have been accepted into the accountancy degree programmes and are currently serving their full-time National Service will be given an additional 2 years until 31 December 2018 to complete the ICPAS exam.
Holders of recognised professional qualifications, including full members of Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and CPA Australia will have until 31 December 2016 to complete the ICPAS examination.