It can add up to quite a bit if you consider everything:
- ICAEW fees (£200-£300) x2 years
- exams fees (£50-£70 x 5 otts, £80 x 4-6 application papers)
- college time (£800-£1800 x 4-6 application papers)
- paid leave (self study) (£80-£120 x X days)
Not sure if that's how they'd assess it.
Two things to consider.
- Could you as easily get the same job in 1.5/2 years time (assuming that's how long it would take to time qualify), then stick it out
- would you still pursue the ACA in the new job? if not they may not chase you for the money
- talk to the new potential employer: "really want to work for you guys but the fees..." can they meet you half way/cover all/make you a loan?
Personally, if you detest your present job then take the next one - work out the premium on the salary, be disciplined and cover a potential loan repayment asap.
I bad failed an exam, got the boot and joined a more commercial financial institution still doing the ACA (no repayments) and enjoy it a lot more than audit at big4.
All the best!