The study investigated the perceptions of accounting undergraduate students at Nigerian varsities towards professional accounting examinations.
The study employed the descriptive survey design because it enables the researcher gather diverse opinions and responses from respondents through the administration of research instruments like questionnaire and opinionnaire.
The study revealed that; There is no significant difference in the perception of accounting undergraduates in private and public universities that job prospects influence their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications; There is no significant difference in the perception of male and female accounting undergraduates that career development influences their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications; There is no significant difference in the perception of accounting undergraduates at 300 and 400 academic level that industry requirements influence their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
The study concluded that Nigerian accounting undergraduate students consider professional certifications and membership with relevant accounting bodies highly imperative and essential due to benefits attached. The study further recommended that; universities, stakeholders in tertiary education as well as government through the Ministry of Education and Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) should effectively discharge their responsibilities towards motivating accounting undergraduate students to pursue professional certifications; universities accounting educators in Nigeria to utilize teaching methods that foster students’ self-efficacy and establish a belief that student can further on this area; faculty or departmental advisers in the university system should provide educational guidance and assistance for undergraduate accounting students such as recommending professional courses and planning schedules in future career; professional accounting bodies such as ICAN, ACCA and CIMA could play their role by organizing seminars, training and development sessions, to attract more accounting students to the body.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nigeria is working towards becoming a high-income nation and one of the main economic drivers of a high-income nation is its financial markets. For the country to achieve this goal, partnering with foreign countries will help to attract foreign investments and foreign trade. Useful financial reporting may help to ensure that the process of allocating capital for productive economic purposes will be done effectively. Thus, to achieve this goal, professional accountants are needed (The Star, 2013). Nigeria will need to double the number of accountants to be able to achieve the nation’s projected economic growth. However, Nigeria is still struggling in attracting its graduates to pursue professional qualifications.
One of the initiatives made by the Nigerian government is to help increase the number of professional accountants and also to provide a pool of potential candidates by issuing degrees, diploma and other school certificates in accounting through colleges and universities. However, most accounting graduates tend to not pursue their professional qualifications; preferring to remain in jobs that do not require professional qualifications. The percentage of accounting graduates who eventually further to become professionals in the accounting field is low considering the fact that these group of graduates deviate into non-accounting field.
The accounting profession is experiencing a lot of changes as a result of globalization. Accountancy is now a well-established and the most recognized professional occupation in most parts of the world and most of this recognition given to accounting has been afforded through an association and collaboration with educational qualifications. Many researchers have analyzed a lot of aspects of students’ intention to pursue careers in accounting. The research conducted by Jackling and Calero (2006) is a reference for subsequent research analyzing the intentions of accounting students to become professional accountants. They analyzed the factors that influence accounting students in Australia to pursue a career as a professional accountant. The results showed that the role of the accounting lecturer was important in molding student opinions about the importance of a career as a professional accountant, especially for early students. There was a process of creating the mindset during the learning period that the lecturer had a dominant role. Furthermore, they suggested that the internal factors, passion or genuine interest in accounting influenced the intention of students being professional accountants. Then, Sugahara, Hiramatsu, and Boland (2009) analyzed the intentions of accounting students in Japan to pursue a career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The results concluded that education and experience affected students’ intention to become CPA. This means that students who studied accounting and those who had working experience related to accounting, had a higher intention to be CPA (Certified Public Accountants) than students who did not study accounting and had no working experience related to accounting. Other research in China was carried out by Wen, Hao, and Bu (2015). They replicated research from Jackling and Calero (2006). They suggested that both internal factors such as interest in accounting and external factors such as the influence of family, friends, and lecturers affected the intention of accounting students to pursue the career as professional accountants.
The corporate scandals in the US and Europe, is now a challenge to the accounting professional conducts, profession’s integrity and responsibility to the public. For that reason, there will be a need for the accounting industry to make sure that a strong reputation and high standard of professionalism is continuously maintained and handled. To provide solution to these challenges, the accounting education must be in check and order with these changes, in order to make sure that the student is ready to face the world upon graduation. In addition, accounting graduates are persuaded to take professional accounting examination to increase their proficiency to be on the same level and playing field with foreign accountants. This perspective is supported by Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). MIA is a statutory body formed to regulate and take to another level the accountancy profession in Malaysia.
Thus, this study is being conducted to analyze the factors that influence accounting students’ career intention to become professional accountants in Nigeria. This study can provide information to the universities to help them to set up and make arrangements for training sessions to encourage graduates to take the professional examination. In addition, this study also can be a source for the professional bodies to make decisions on the strategy on how to increase the number of professional accountants in Nigeria. This will also help to contribute to the future viability of professional bodies because it is claimed that the future viability of any professional body depends on their ability to continuously attract new members, ideally the best and the brightest new tertiary graduates (Malthus, and Fowler, 2009).
The purpose of this research is to investigate the perception of the accounting students’ towards pursuing professional qualifications and in specific, students from different Nigerian Universities.
STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The 21st century generation youth are seen as youths with no purpose and this eventually leads to some reasons why most accounting graduates of today tend to look away from the accounting profession as a result of lack of discipline to read, fear of trying(failure), and being unaware of the benefits of being professional accountants. The issues of shortage of qualified accountants has been a major issue all over the world and one way to increase the number of professional accountants in Nigeria is for the Professional accounting bodies in charge of accountants to come together with the government and create various possible means.
There are certain problems associated with the reduced number of professional accountants over the years. Some of these problems are lack of awareness and understanding of professional accounting, lack of information on accounting profession and no clear communication and opportunities on this. The past studies of Yusoff et al. (2011) found out that students will have more intention toward public accountants only if they received more knowledge or information regarding the professional accounting.
There is the problem of internal factors such as interest in accounting and external factors such as the influence of family, friends, and lecturers affected the intention of accounting students to become professional accountants(Srirejeki et al., 2019). The internal factor which is having interest in accounting, is a factor to be looked into. A student who is willing to further their accounting career to become professional accountants have to have a strong interest for accounting related matters. In preparing for accounting professional examination one has to have an idea or an in-depth understanding of what accounting entails, and by this way has indirectly shown interest in wanting to know some basics in accounting.
Another problem associated with why students may feel reluctant to write professional exams are external factors. External factors such as influence of family, friends and lecturers. Some students who may have come from families with no educational background might not have the motivation that will trigger them into writing professional exams and by so doing, lead to that student not wanting to become a professional in the accounting field. This factor is also the reason why there is a reduced number of professional accountants in Nigeria.
The issue of taking into consideration the advice of friends may influence a student’s decision to write professional examinations. Students who may have had experience of writing a professional exam, particularly an accounting related exam may be able to influence the decision of another student in writing the professional examination. But on the other hand, students who don’t have interest in becoming certified professional accountants may be able to also influence the decision of other students, which lead to their lack of interest in writing this professional examination.
Lecturers on the other hand, also influence student’s decision on whether a student will choose to write an accounting professional examination or not. Lecturers fail to enlighten their students on the benefit of writing accounting professional examination and so once these set of students graduate; they leave the institution with no understanding of what the examination entails.
There is little or no enlightenment centers for students or other interested individuals to go to for understanding what these professional exams requires of them. Though there are centers in place to enlighten people on the benefits of writing this examination and also those same centers serve as tutorial centers used to teach students on these professional examinations.
Writing accounting professional examination should not only be for the purpose of just having a certificate but should be because of the present and future benefit associated with being a professional accountant.
Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is to empirically investigate the perception of Nigerian accounting students towards pursuing professional accountancy qualifications. The specific objectives of the study are enumerated as follows:
- To determine whether job prospects influences accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
- To determine whether career development influences accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
- To determine whether industry requirement influences accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
The study attempts to provide robust, comprehensive, and fact-finding answers to the following questions:
- Does job prospects influences accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications?
- Does career development influences accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications?
- Does industry requirement influence accounting students’ decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications?
The study developed three operational hypotheses in consonance with the research objectives and questions. The hypothesis is meant to serve as a basis to make valid conclusions about the subject matter, after carrying out statistical analysis and test. The hypotheses are expressed in their null form.
- H01: There is no significant difference in the perception of accounting undergraduates in private and public universities that job prospects influence their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
- H02: There is no significant difference in the perception of male and female accounting undergraduates that career development influences their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
- H03: There is no significant difference in the perception of accounting undergraduates at 300 and 400 academic level that industry requirements influence their decision to pursue professional accountancy certifications.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
This study is very important and is significant to the following parties:
- The economy: The introduction of accounting professional examination into the economy enhanced
- The government: This study tends towards ensuring that the government is adequately providing an enabling environment and all necessary materials and equipment such as past questions for easy study and also to make teaching and learning of accounting professional examination easier.
- Accounting professional bodies: This research work is aimed at making this accounting professional bodies more effective so as to ensure people are encouraged to write accounting professional examinations. The individuals who serve as tutors in the tutorial centers provided to encourage people write the professional examination are also professional accountants which are also part of this professional bodies. This professional bodies are charged or saddled with responsibility of setting guidelines for their members concerning all aspects of accounting. Example of professional bodies are ACCA, ICAN, CIMA, ANAN, AICPA, AAT etc.
- The university: The introduction of accounting professional examinations to students in the university encourages the students to want to participate in the examination and thus, lead to increase in the number of professional accountants in Nigeria.
- National Universities Commission (NUC):
- The students: The benefits attached with becoming a professional accountant has helped to ensure that other students who haven’t taken this examination will be encouraged and motivated to do so.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This is the coverage of the research; it majorly elaborates on the study. This study examines accounting student’s perception on pursuing professional examinations. In carrying out the objectives of this research and in order to answer adequately the research questions, the study considered the undergraduates of four (4) different universities, preferably from 300-400 level.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Limitations to the study refer to those factors which could serve as constraints to the carrying out of this research work. These may be inadequate time frame, unwillingness of respondents, financial constraints etc. In this research work, the researcher envisages that there may be a short time frame, reluctance of some students to respond to questionnaires.