Rules and standards for students

Being an ACCA student will bring you lots of benefits. But with those benefits come certain obligations.

Students are required to adhere to ACCA’s rules and standards as set out in the Rulebook, which includes the Code of Ethics and Conduct.

The ACCA Rulebook

The ACCA Rulebook contains the bye-laws, regulations and the Code of Ethics and Conduct with which members and students are required to comply.

The Membership Regulations can be found in section 2.1 of the Rulebook. The regulations set out essential information for members, students and firms, including practising arrangements, and regulatory and disciplinary matters. You should familiarise yourself with those sets of regulations that are relevant to you, and know where to look should you require more detail. Specifically, you should be aware of the structure and content of the Membership regulations, the Global Practising Regulations and all the regulatory and disciplinary regulations:

Membership Regulations – these set out the obligations for membership including eligibility criteria for membership and CPD.

Global Practising Regulations (GPRs) – the GPRs set out the eligibility requirements and continuing obligations placed on practising certificate holders.

Regulatory and Disciplinary regulations – in particular, we are referring to the Authorisation Regulations, Complaints and Disciplinary Regulations, Appeal Regulations, Interim Orders Regulations and Health Regulations.

It is important that you familiarise yourself with the contents of the ACCA Rulebook, and particularly Regulation 8 of ACCA’s Membership Regulations. This section outlines the activities you are permitted and not permitted to do as an ACCA student.

A summary of the key points are set out below, but this is only a guide. You must read the full text of Membership Regulation 8 in the ACCA Rulebook to understand precisely what your rights and obligations are, as failure to comply with them is likely to lead to disciplinary action.

ACCA Rulebook key points

  • You may provide basic book-keeping services, which includes preparing accounts to trial balance stage, payroll and VAT. The Am I in Public Practice? factsheet may be useful to you. 
  • You may advertise your book-keeping services as long as the nature of the advertising is not misleading and does not otherwise reflect adversely upon you or ACCA.
  • You may not carry on any work of a public practice nature, such as preparation of final accounts or income tax returns, unless that work is supervised and signed off by an appropriate person. If you are not sure whether your supervisor has the appropriate qualification or background, you must contact ACCA for advice.
  • You must keep ACCA informed of any changes of address.

For more information, see our guidance on exam time limits

Student disciplinary procedures

ACCA has public interest responsibilities, and we must ensure that our students and members act with integrity and to the highest standards. Consequently, students, as well as members, come within the jurisdiction of ACCA’s disciplinary procedures. The disciplinary procedures apply to students completing projects and internally-assessed courses as well as paper-based and computer-based exams.

Anything you do which falls within ACCA’s bye-law 8 will result in disciplinary procedures being brought against you. The Rulebook covers matters such as professional misconduct, misconduct in exams, criminal convictions and breaches of regulations which include any actions likely to bring discredit to you, ACCA, or the accountancy profession. As well as membership regulation 8 you should also familiarise yourself with ACCA’s Code of Ethics and Conduct, particularly the Fundamental Principles. The Code applies to students as well as members.

If you have fallen within bye-law 8 before you become an ACCA student, you must declare it on your application form, otherwise you are liable to be disciplined for it. All criminal convictions must be declared, even if they are ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Student disciplinary procedures key points

If you become the subject of a disciplinary investigation, you will receive a guide which explains the procedures. A summary of the key points is provided here:

  • The most common complaints for which students are investigated and disciplined are cheating in exams and carrying on public practice.
  • You must co-operate throughout the course of the investigation.
  • ACCA reserves the right to withhold the results of a student’s examination while a complaint against him or her is under consideration.
  • If there is evidence of misconduct, you will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee, which will hear the case in public. You will be invited to attend and bring witnesses.
  • If the case is proved, the Committee has a variety of sanctions it can impose upon you. The most serious is exclusion from ACCA, which is the guideline sanction for cheating in an exam. Other sanctions include being disqualified from any exam for which the results have not yet been issued and being barred from sitting exams for a specified period.
  • Publicity will always be given to the Disciplinary Committee’s decision.
  • You will normally be ordered to pay the costs of the case if it is proved.
  • There is an opportunity for you to apply for permission to appeal if you disagree with the Disciplinary Committee’s decision. In order to obtain permission, you have to demonstrate that your appeal would have a real prospect of success on specified grounds.

If you wish to make further enquiries about matters which may be subject to disciplinary procedures, please contact ACCA at