n Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - An investigation into students' perceptions of accountants




Prior accounting education literature documents that stereotypical images abound of the accountant as introverted, systematic, antisocial and boring. Although these stereotypes clash with the skills required of modern professional accountants to be problem solvers who regularly interact with people, the question is whether students wishing to become accountants still have these stereotyped perceptions. The purpose of this article is to investigate the preconceived notions of students in South Africa about accountants and whether these perceptions differ because of gender, home language or ethnical differences. A comparison is also made of the perceptions of school-leavers and final-year students to determine whether these perceptions change during students' formal period of study at universities. This research, which is currently highly relevant, given the shortage of students pursuing careers as accountants, could contribute to the debate surrounding the concerns of the future of the accounting profession and the implications for contemporary accounting education. It was found that students perceive accountants as structured, precise and solitary individuals. However, students considered it to be an interesting profession. Significant differences were found between the perceptions of different ethnic groups. No significant differences were found between the perceptions of male and female students, or between Afrikaans- and English-speaking students.


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