The Department of Finance and Taxation at the University of Cape Town (UCT) recently held a celebratory event to mark its 10th anniversary. The department was born from the merger in 2012 of several other units of the Faculty of Commerce. The original sections of the department were located in the College of Accountancy, School of Economics, and School of Management Studies, among others.
Speaking at the celebratory event, department head Dr Lucian Pitt identified three themes for the anniversary: celebration, transformation and collaboration. Dr. Pitt is a graduate of UCT, having attended the Faculty of Commerce as an undergraduate in the 1980s, when the faculty was a very different place. He was appointed head of department in January 2022.
“We are not celebrating as we should. Going forward, I’d like us to be a little…more serious about celebrating our successes,” Pitt said.
Other speakers included Professor Suki Goodman, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce; Tracy Johnson, Tax Section Chief; Associate Professor David Taylor, Director of the African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM); and Associate Professor Chun-Sung Huang, Head of Postgraduate Studies. Dr. Ezelda Swanepoel acted as program director for the evening.
Despite its small size, the department quickly established international connections and was involved in multiple funded research projects. He participated in the research project entitled Sustainable Tax Governance in Developing Countries through Global Tax Transparency, which was funded by the Research Council of Norway. The department also participated in the international Marie Curie staff exchange programme, funded by the European Union. This has led to the achievement of many research publications.
Professor Goodman took the opportunity to congratulate Professor Emeritus Jennifer Roeleveld on her appointment as Resident Professor at the International Office of Tax Documentation. She is only the 11th person to be elevated to the position since its inception. Associate Professor Ryan Kruger was also recognized for his Distinguished Teacher Award, which he received in 2016.
Additionally, staff members have published in highly reputable journals and have achieved National Research Foundation ratings.
Collaboration, partnerships and achievements
Barely a year after the beginning of the existence of the department, the master’s program in international taxation was launched. This later became an interdisciplinary program in cooperation with the Faculty of Law in 2015.
In 2014, the Tax Unit for Tax Research was launched. This unit was intended to enrich research already underway in various departments at UCT and is a collaboration with the Faculty of Law’s Commercial Law Department. Later that year, the department organized a research conference to mark 100 years of income tax in South Africa. This collaboration resulted in the publication of a peer-reviewed book, Income Tax in South Africa: The First 100 Years 1914-2014. The department has also entered into a cooperation agreement with the International Bureau of Tax Documentation, which has resulted in substantial benefits for tax researchers and students at the university.
AIFMRM was launched in 2014 and incorporated into the department in 2020. The aim of the institute is to create opportunities for masters students to enter the financial services industry. It has produced over 250 master’s graduates over the past six years, as well as six doctoral graduates. The institute has published 68 journal articles over an eight-year period since 2014. The AIFMRM has also organized the annual Financial Mathematics Team Challenge in partnership with University College London since 2014. This has resulted in the creation of partnerships research and exchange with leading universities. of the whole world.
Top performing students
UCT’s Tax Honors program has been accredited by the South African Institute of Taxation (SAIT), which is the oversight body for tax professionals. Over the past several years, many members of the department have served as examiners for SAIT’s board examinations, and Johnson has been appointed as a moderator and academic advisor by SAIT.
“We’re very proud that our tax students are consistently among the top performers on the SAIT board exams,” Johnson said, “with a pass rate of 100% or close to it every year.”
“Our department teams have won eight out of 13 local competitions to represent South Africa in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.”
As the only African entrant in the GTTC Universities Project Competition, the UCT student team won the competition in 2017 and 2020. The Tax Section will host the Tillinghast International Conference in April 2023. Section members tax will also be part of the organization. committee of the 2024 congress of the International Fiscal Association (IFA), to be held in Cape Town (a first on the African continent).
Associate Professor Huang said that each year the department enters groups of fourth-year finance students in the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge, which is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentorship and intensive training. in financial and professional analysis. ethics.
“Our department teams won eight out of 13 local competitions to represent South Africa in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and qualified for the global finals once, meaning they were one of the four best teams in the world. ”
The department has also had success in supervising postgraduate students, which has led to the publication of numerous research projects in leading academic journals. “Our postgraduate and undergraduate degrees in finance are in demand. With constant review of our programs, we aim to ensure they remain relevant,” Pitt said. “These degrees have opened local and international doors for our students. We are proud of the contributions our graduates make to the growth of their businesses and to society.
Goodman added: “The first decade was all about building. The department is perfectly positioned to grow more and more. »