1.1 Background to the Study
The institutionalization of Accounting started in Britain, from where Accounting was imported to Nigeria. During the pre-independence period, in Nigeria, especially before the establishment of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences (particularly the one in Ibadan), people who wanted to enrol into the Accounting profession had to be trained through articleship. This meant that, they had to be attached as apprentices to those in the profession already. When the College of Arts and Sciences in Ibadan (now university of Ibadan) was established, it offered courses in Accounting; students were prepared for the intermediate level of ACCA (Chartered Association of Certified Accountants), a British Accounting Body, (Obi2icez, 2012).
In 1960, the University of Nigeria Nsukka started offering courses in Accounting, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Lagos joined in offering Accounting courses form 1962. Other Nigerian Universities (most of them) and many polytechnics follow suit in the later years. Together they produce large number of Accounting graduates (B.Sc. and HND holders, (Obi2icez, 2012).
In 1960, specifically on 17th November, some Nigerians who had some professional training in Accounting from different parts of the world, got together and formed an association called Association of Nigerian Accountants. This was the first attempt at forming a national and indigenous accountancy professional body in Nigeria. It included people working in companies, industries, government offices and the likes. The Association was formed with the view to providing and maintaining a high standard of Accounting in Nigeria, (Obi2icez, 2012). Accounting Education in a higher institution incorporates a package of instructional programmes designed to educate “would be” accountants, to make them versatile and adaptable to any of the numerous roles they may be called upon to play after graduation, (Anao, 2009). This training of becoming accountant is not only anchored by Higher institutions but also professional Accounting bodies like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), which was Chartered by an Act of Parliament in 1965, and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), which was incorporated in 1993. There are others like Chartered Institute of Taxation in Nigeria (CITN), Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Nigerian (ICPAN), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
The apparent demand for Accounting education, as evidenced by the number of students has continued to grow significantly since Nigeria universities started offering complete undergraduate Accounting courses.
Business Education was divided into three areas and Accounting education is one of them, others are marketing, distributive education and secretarial education. In every business establishment, be it government, parastatals, private companies, banks and other financial institutions, the importance of Accounting cannot be overemphasized. (Umunnah 1992)
However, Accounting education is not only for ‘would be’ accountants but regarded as an area of study needed to equip the youths with knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for efficient financial calculation required for occupational competence, and economic activities of an organization are measured, recorded and communicated to interested parties for analysis and interpretation. Everyone should be required to study Accounting because Accounting is very essential for our daily life. There are many importance of studying Accounting. Asking an accountant why Accounting information is important is similar to asking why fish need to live in water. This is because Accounting is the backbone of the financial world. Different levels of society need Accounting information for different purposes, (Chakma, 2012)
First of all, Accounting is indirectly associated to our day to day life. If there is no Accounting, we may not be able to communicate with each other in the financial world because as what we know Accounting is the language of business. For example, when we want to spend money on something, we will determine the value of the thing and think whether it is worth to buying or not. We will decide whether we will gain any profit or loss from that particular thing. From our real life example, if we wish to buy a laptop, we will ask all the information about the price and function of the laptop. After that, we decide whether the laptop is necessary for us and worth to buying or not before we make any decision to purchase it, (Chakma, 2012).
Additionally, not only business students but it is vital for others stream of students to have fundamental knowledge about Accounting for their personal advantage. This is because as they grow up they will need more Accounting information such as personal income tax. Moreover, nowadays accountancy has emerged as a profession, together with the professions of medicine and law. The study and practice of accountancy requires a broad understanding of concepts and in-depth knowledge of specialized Accounting areas. Accounting is essential to prepare them to face their work in the future, (Chakma, 2012).
Accounting is known as the language of business and as such it benefits management in many ways, (Shanker 2012).
As a man without a language turns out to be somewhat useless or as a mute man cannot be understood clearly, so also, a business without the accounts of its activities becomes meaningless. A language is the representative of the progress of the people of that language group. A developed language reflects a developed society. Socio-economic progress has always depended on its linguistic advancement. In other words, human culture and economic activities have always been depending on language and literature for their nourishment and advancement as well, (Chakma, 2012). A business unit also has got its own language is which it expresses the results of its activities and that language is “Accounting” With the help of this language, i.e., Accounting, it prepares its future plans, programmes and projects. Accounting, the language of the business, is always effectively used for analytical consideration of the present activities and for reporting the results to various interested persons as well. As the language of The Sun is no sunrays, as that of a flower is its fragrance, and as the same of a thunderbolt is its lightning, so also the language of a business is Accounting. As a human being expresses thoughts through language, so the results of the activities of a business are expressed through Accounting in the form of final Accounts with Reports and Statements. The success or failure, the profits or losses and the daily activities or transactions of a business get life when they are transformed and translated into accounts, (Chakma, 2012).
Accounting, the language of business, helps us to know its profitability or profit earning capacity. Not only this, the language of Accounting also expresses the financial stability, strength of the Capital Structure and the inner worth or the real net worth of the business. The future prospects of a concern also can be clearly known from the published accounts. In fact, all interested persons in a society, like Debtors, Creditors, Investors, Money-lenders, Bankers, Governments, Tax-collectors, Economists, Researchers, etc., can go through the activities of a business with the help of its language, i.e., Accounting. One can thus have a complete, true and fair view of the business through the language of Accounting, (Chakma, 2012).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Accountability is needed in virtually all organisations be it public, private, profit and not-for-profit organisations, therefore Accounting as the language of business is very essential to all students, both business and non-business alike.
The problem of not identifying the unique characteristics of Accounting to non-business students and not knowing the best strategies to encourage these students to embark on being Accounting literate has not been solved. So this research work was about solving this problem and also helps to knowing the perceptions of students about Accounting.
1.3 Justification for the Study
Different studies and research works have been embarked on perception of accountants, accounting educators and practices of accounting but little or nothing has been said on perception of business and non-business students about the subject. There are many reasons that led some to study Accounting, and some not to consider it as worth studying, others don’t even like it as a course. Therefore, this research work has gone a long way to finding out the perceptions of both business students and non-business students and to show whether they (perceptions) affect their interest level.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objective of this research is the comparison of business students and non-business students’ perceptions on Accounting education. Other objectives are:
a). to find out if business students perception of Accounting education affects their interest level on Accounting education and
b). to find out if non-business students perception of Accounting education affects their interest level on Accounting education
1.5 Research Questions
In order to achieve the outlined objectives in 1.4, the following research questions are posed:
i. Does the perception of non-business students on Accounting education differ from that of business students?
ii. Does the perception of business students affect their interest level on Accounting education? and
iii. Does the perception of non-business students affect their interest level on accounting education?
1.6 Hypotheses of the Study
The following hypotheses were tested:
Ho: Non-business students’ perception on Accounting education is not significantly different from that of business students.
H1: Non-business students’ perception on Accounting education significantly different from that of business students.
Ho: There is no relationship between the perceptions of business students and their interest level on Accounting Education.
H1: There is relationship between the perceptions of business students and their interest level on Accounting Education.
Ho: There is no relationship between the perceptions of non-business students and their interest level on Accounting Education.
H1: There is relationship between the perceptions of non-business students and their interest level on Accounting Education.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study focuses on the comparison of perceptions of non-business students and business students of Lagos State University, Nigeria, on Accounting Education. The Business students as far as this research work is concerned are the 100 level, 200, 300 level and 400 level students of Economics, Accounting, Finance, Marketing and Business Administration whereas the non-business students are Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Geography students.
1.8 Limitation and delimitation
The limitations of this study are the use of questionnaire as an instrument because the respondents could be bias; the sample was taken from small portion of the populations, unavoidable errors in the procession of questionnaire, time factor and errors resulting from a total lack of responses to some of the question in the questionnaire.
However, efforts were made to ensure that these limitations did not hinder the effective completion and quality of this work.
1.9 Definition of Terms
a) Accounting: is the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgement and decision by users of the information. (American Accounting Association) (Corado, Jose and Christian 2009)
b) Education: A process of teaching, training, learning, especially in schools, ` colleges, to improve knowledge and develop skills.
c) Business Students: Students who offer at least one Accounting course.
d) Non-Business Students: Students who do not offer any Accounting course in the Faculty of Social Science in Lagos State University.
e) Perceptions: The way things are noticed, especially with senses.
f) De-articled: this is a situation where a trainee is sacked or sent away because of one reason or the other.