A University of South Wales (USW) student has become the second in two years to win a ‘first in the world prize’ in professional examinations.
Bryony Lewis, 27, from Raglan, Monmouthshire, scored the joint highest mark worldwide in her Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) September 2020 Advanced Taxation exam, recording a score of 91%.
Bryony’s success follows that of another USW ACCA student, Nicola Lloyd, who last year achieved the highest mark worldwide in ACCA’s Strategic Professional Level exams and joint highest mark worldwide in her Advanced Financial Management exam.
As with everything in 2020, Bryony’s path to the success was not straightforward. When the pandemic took hold in March 2020, students and tutors had to quickly switch to online tuition, which was a new experience for all of them.
At the time Bryony was preparing for her Advanced Taxation exam in June, but the lockdown restrictions meant that ACCA cancelled all but a few of the exams to be held that month. As a result, ACCA tutors worked remotely with students throughout the summer to prepare them for exams in September.
Bryony, who completed a MSci in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Bristol before starting her ACCA studies at USW in 2016, works for the Monmouth office of accountant and business advisory firm Azets.
“In spite of all the challenges and difficulties that came with our sessions switching part way through the course to remote learning, we still had regular online sessions,” Bryony said.
“My Advanced Tax lecturer, Teresa Marsh, would always answer my queries, big or small, it was always nice knowing that kind of support was there.
“Having started a new job with Azets in March this year just as the country went into lockdown, the situation probably helped with my revision, as that was the one normal and constant thing at the time, with the exams’ postponement also allowing me to take advantage of the extra revision time.”
Nicola Gilbert, ACCA course leader at USW, said: “More than 5,200 students worldwide sat the Advanced Taxation paper in September 2020, so to have a prize winner from our ACCA course is simply amazing.
“Despite all the challenges faced this year, Bryony’s diligence and hard work has been rewarded. We couldn’t be more proud of her.
“Thanks must also go to our Advanced Taxation tutor, Teresa Marsh, who supported Bryony through her tax studies.”
Teresa Marsh, ATX tutor, added: “Bryony’s result is remarkable and I’m extremely proud of what she and her fellow students have accomplished in such challenging circumstances.
“She has a natural ability but has worked extremely hard and in a very focused way to achieve this accolade. I’m sure I speak for the class of 2020 in sending her congratulations from us all.”
Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Cymru Wales, said: “On behalf of ACCA Cymru Wales, many congratulations to Bryony on her fantastic achievement in the recent Advanced Taxation paper – we are very proud of your amazing result.
“Thanks also to the staff at the University of South Wales for the high-quality support you give to your students – particularly at this very challenging time – this is demonstrated in the recent exam recent results and especially in Bryony’s prize-winning result.”
Sarah Case, partner at Azets, said: “As is the norm these days, the news that Bryony had achieved 91% and scored joint top in the whole world came via our office Teams chat one evening. Fantastic news to brighten up 2020.
“The ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’ comments came in thick and fast from the team. We are all delighted that Bryony has achieved so much and proud to have her working with us. To achieve a score like that in a year that is challenging for so many reasons is fantastic.
“Bryony started with us just as the UK locked down and yet has become an integral team member, seamlessly bonding with the wider office despite for a long time never having met them.
“In addition, she has studied hard and that hard work has paid off with this incredible result. The work ethic that Bryony displays, along with her eagerness to learn and excellent client skills, will ensure that she has a successful career as an ACCA professional.
“With one exam remaining, still in challenging times, we are confident that Bryony will not only pass but excel and go on to qualify as ACCA with flying colours.”