The purpose of this paper is to ascertain the perceptions of New Zealand high school and tertiary students regarding accounting and accountants, as well as the perceptions of high school accounting educators and career advisers who potentially influence these students.
The methodology used here is qualitative, including semi‐structured interviews and focus groups.
The paper finds that the majority of the high school students and first‐year tertiary students have little understanding of the tasks accountants perform, and their image of an accountant was the typical “boring” stereotype. However, the final year tertiary students have a good understanding of what accounting entails and do not have a negative image of an accountant. The high school accounting educators have a favourable view of accounting and are positive about a career in accounting, in contrast with the career advisers who view an accounting career as dull and boring or a backstop to other more exciting careers.
Recently, there has been a decline in the number of New Zealand accounting graduates, which may in part be caused by negative stereotyping and limited accurate knowledge about accountants. The challenge for the local professional accounting body is to attempt to change this stereotype and find new ways of promoting accounting careers to the current generation of New Zealand high school and tertiary students.
The paper integrates the study of students' perceptions of accounting in New Zealand with that of the high school accounting educators and career advisers to provide a comprehensive qualitative study of the current New Zealand situation.
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