A life-changing opportunity: Asim Raza explains what the AAT Bursary means for him

AAT Bursary recipient Asim Raza started studying with AAT in 2019 after arriving in the UK from Pakistan a few years earlier.

He was overjoyed when he learned that he had been awarded the Bursary for the 2021-22 academic year and could therefore continue studying for his Level 4 Professional Diploma.

“I found out about the Bursary scheme from my AAT Level 3 tutor, with whom I was studying at my local college in Stoke-on-Trent,” Asim said.

“I was surprised to be chosen because I thought there must be lots of applicants like me. I even burst into tears of excitement when I found out I has been chosen, as without the Bursary I would not have been able to progress to Level 4. “It’s truly a life-changing opportunity for me.”

Asim’s story:

Born in Pakistan, Asim, 39, completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in his home country before going on to work in Accountancy in the Middle East for the next 10 years or so. “I have always been good at numeracy and had a passion for working in the accounting field,” he said.

He built up lots of work experience but did not have a specialised accounting qualification at that time. When his work in the Middle East suddenly came to an end, he and his family could not stay in Pakistan due to security concerns.

“Unfortunately, I could not risk staying in my home country with my children,” said Asim, who now lives in Stoke-on-Trent with his family. “The stressful and unsafe circumstances forced me to take a decision to migrate to the UK in September 2016.”

Once settled in Stoke-on-Trent, Asim looked for accountancy courses and was accepted on AAT Levels 1, 2, and then 3, all of which were funded by the college.

“The Stoke on Trent college management supported me so much, especially when it came to studying for the Level 3 qualification,” he said. “Funding for Levels 1 and 2 is quite widely available, but at that time funding for Level 3 was only possible via a government advance loan or through the college on case-to-case basis, which is what I was awarded.”

Today, having successfully completed the first three levels, he’s well into his Level 4 course. And he doesn’t intend to stop there. “Receiving the AAT Bursary is a huge opportunity for people experiencing difficulties in funding their studies,” Asim added.

“It opens a number of doors to building a successful career in the accounting field. “Personally, I would like to go on to do my Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualifications and become a chartered accountant if I can.

“Ultimately, my dream then is to work for a big professional accountancy or finance management company and utilise my work experience and learning to serve the organisation and the wider community, perhaps going on to set up my own company one day.”

The AAT Bursary scheme

The AAT Bursary scheme is designed to increase diversity and social mobility in the accounting sector by helping financially disadvantaged students to study for an AAT qualification regardless of their personal circumstances.

Open to UK residents aged 16 or over, the Bursary scheme is available to fund a range of AAT accounting, bookkeeping, and business qualifications – from the Access Award in Bookkeeping (Level 1) and the Foundation Diploma in Accounting and Business (Level 2) for 16 to 19-year-olds to the Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4).

For successful applicants, it covers all the costs involved in taking the relevant qualification (including one set of re-sits if required) – up to a maximum pay out of £5,000.

“This Bursary provides a whole bunch of advantages because it covers not only the tuition fees for the whole course but also the exam fees and a year’s AAT membership fees,” Asim said.

Find out more about the scheme

You can read more about apply for the AAT Bursary and the eligibility requirements via the AAT website.

“When you apply for the AAT Bursary, you have to provide true picture of your financial situation and explain in detail why you cannot fund your studies,” Asim said.

“I would recommend applicants are as open and honest as possible about their circumstances, especially when it comes to detailing why this bursary is the only possible option to support their course fee. In my view, that’s the best way to have a chance at being accepted.”

AAT is proud to have been changing lives for more than four decades. We thank Asim for sharing his inspirational story with us and wish him all the best with his future career.

Further reading

Jessica Bown is an award-winning freelance journalist and editor.

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