The Supply of Accounting Graduates in New Zealand

Author: Paul Wells, Auckland University of Technology

Abstract: The decline in enrollments in accounting programmes in the United States of America and the United Kingdom has been well documented for over a decade, and it is suggested that accounting as a career choice is becoming less attractive to students. An Australian study (Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia 2002) supported this conclusion but further noted that the trend of declining domestic students is being masked by an increasing level of enrollments in these programmes by international students. This study reports on an analysis of data from New Zealand tertiary education organisations. Its objectives were to identify graduation trends for the period 1997-2002 and to consider the impact of international student enrolment on these trends. The findings suggest that there have been significant fluctuations in the number of accounting graduates since 1997, with domestic graduate numbers rising between 1999 and 2001 and then declining in 2002. During this time the total number of business graduates has remained constant. This decline in graduate numbers coincides with the introduction of the four-year programme of study. These findings have implications for the tertiary education organisations, the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and employers.