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Factors Influencing the Students Choice

of Accounting as a Major
Sharifah Sabrina Syed Ali*and Michael Tinggi**

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) introduced a new program named Bachelor of


Accountancy in September 2012. It would be interesting to find out what had influenced
the students to accept the offer of accounting as a major. Thus, the objective of this
study is to identify the factors related to the choice of students in accepting the offer of
accounting program in UNIMAS. The study examines the influence of variables such as
past achievements, personal interest, job prospect, family members and peers, and
media on students decision to accept the offer of accounting program, by analyzing the
first batch of accounting students in UNIMAS. The findings reveal that only job prospect
has a significant influence over the students decision to opt for accounting as a major.

Introduction
Accounting program, a specialized professional programincluding financial accounting,
accounting information system, cost and managerial accounting, taxation, auditing, financial
statement analysis, accounting theory and practices including professional standards such as
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
(GAAP), financial management and public sector accountingprepares the students to practice
the profession of accounting and perform any related business function.

The Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) introduced Accounting program in


September 2012. This study examines the impact of factors like past achievements,
personal interests, job prospect, media, family members and peers on the choice of
students in accepting the offer of Accounting as a major in UNIMAS.

Literature Review
There are several reasons that may influence students to choose accounting as a
major. For example, those who excel in playing with numbers or are good at
mathematics would consider choosing accounting as a major. Past studies show that
personal interests, peer influence, family background, career opportunity and job
availability are some of the factors that influence students decision.

1*

Lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan,
Sarawak, Malaysia; and is the corresponding author. E-mail: sassabrina@feb.unimas.my

1*

Lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan,
Sarawak, Malaysia. E-mail: tmichael@feb.unimas.my
StudentsReserved.Choice of Accounting as a Major

Factors2013 InfluencingIUP.AllRightste

25

Students perception towards their major was examined by Giladi et al. (2001), who found
that most of the students decide on their major during the high school years and the reason for
the selection is the job prospect. Thus, a large proportion of students are expected to opt for
accounting as major. Other studies like Sabot and Wakeman (1991) and Walstrom et al. (2008)
examined factors like job or income prospect as important criteria for the major selection.

Didia and Hasnat (1998) and Bauer and Dahlquist (1999) showed that personality plays
an important role in the choice of the major. Worthington and Higgs (2004) also observed
that the students choose the major that matches their personality and personal interest. In
addition, the role of characteristics may also be statistically significant in determining the
choice of major. Furthermore, many studies identified that various family members, peers,
and other significant persons also have an impact on an individuals choice in many ways
(Hanson, 1994). Kenny et al. (2003) showed that peers persuasion help students to decide
whether to study overseas or in their home country. It however, is effective only after the
original intention to study abroad is established. Further, Pearson and Dellmann (1997)
found that the importance of siblings, friends and the media combined was less than that of
parents. According to Dynan and Rouse (1997), media influence and past achievement
lead to the students choice of major.

Past Achievements
Savolainen et al. (2008) suggested that reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling are
predictors of past achievement, which may influence the students choice of major. Using a
sample of 1,700 students, the authors examined through a related assessment their skills and
knowledge and then compared the results with the choice of major of those students. They
found that the previous achievement had strong influence on the students choice of major.
Olitsky (2009) also showed that individual academic achievement plays a significant role in
determining the choice of major among the students. Moreover, Turner and Bowen (1999) and
Montmarquette et al. (2002) used the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) as a measurement of
academic achievement to examine its influence on the choice of major among the students.

Personal Interests
Many studies showed that students interest in the subject is one of the significant factors that
influence their choice of major. Dynan and Rouse (1997) and Lewis and Norris (1997) identified
the importance of interest and perceptions of the profession as the factor determining the choice
of economics major, while Easterlin (1995) identified preferences as the key factor in the
generational switch to business studies. Fortin and Amernic (1994) concluded that interest
and aptitude for the subject matter appear to be the driving forces behind the students choice of
accounting as a major intrinsic values such as independence in action and solving
challenging problems (intellectual stimulation) are also the key factors motivating students
choice of concentration. Other studies confirmed that personality plays a key role in the choice
of a major. Lawrence and Taylor (2000) found that students with sensing, thinking and judging
personality types were more likely to select accounting as major. Wolk and Nikolai (1997) also
obtained similar results. Further, Geiger and Ogilby (2000) and Mauldin et al.
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The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &
Audit Practices, Vol. XII, No. 4, 2013

(2000) found that the decision to major in accounting was made in the first accounting
course. Geiger and Ogilbys analyses for selection of accounting as a major indicate that
the decision depended on initially intending to major in accounting, performance in the first
course, and individual instructors, but not on changes in perception regarding the first
course, while Mauldin et al. found that the largest percentage of students (41%) chose
accounting as their major during the first accounting course in college.

Job Prospect
Many studies indicated that students choice of business major is influenced by higher earnings,
prestige and career advancement (Kim and Markham, 2002). Montmarquette et al. (2002)
examined the previous studies on the determinants of the major choice, which linked it to the
expected earnings. Lowe et al. (1994) discovered that compensation, career opportunities and
prestige are significant factors that influence students choice of accounting as their major,
whereas students who choose business major are more influenced by personal and normative
factors. There should be a general awareness among students on the career opportunities
available in Malaysia and overseas and the level of compensation for accountants as it has
been widely publicized in the local newspapers. With the amount of news publicity given to a
particular profession, it would be interesting to find out if these job-related factors are the key
factors influencing students choice of accountancy as a major. Besides, Galotti and Kozberg
(1987) investigated five factors that may influence the choice of major among the students, i.e.,
qualification policies to enter the major field of study, employment opportunities, university or
college reputation, past academic experiences, and the characteristics of the courses. They
found that the job prospect or job opportunity is the most significant factor influencing the choice
of major. The students were aware of the growing salaries and potential in the related field,
which led them to enroll in the related field, i.e., finance.

Furthermore, the studies by Francisco et al. (2003) and Simons et al. (2003) also
concluded that factors such as future job opportunity, income potential, type of
profession, earning perks, bonuses and so on, play the most important role in
determining the major of the students. Tan and Laswad (2006) also inferred that the
choice of students major is significantly influenced by income prospects, prestige and
job advancements due to earning potential and marketability or scope of opportunities.

Influence of Family Members and Peers


Parental influence has been identified as an important factor affecting students achievement,
their future study as well as their choice of major, particularly in Asian countries. However,
studies examining the importance of family members and peers regarding the choice of major
showed mixed results. With the exception of Cohen and Hanno (1993), the influence of parents,
counsellors, or friends was not generally found to be important in the decision. However, some
studies suggested that other than family members and friends, college professors also
influenced the choice of accounting as a major (Albrecht and Sack, 2000; Geiger and
Factors Influencing the Students Choice of
Accounting as a Major

27

Ogilby, 2000; and Mauldin et al., 2000). Mazzarol and Soutar (2002) concluded that
family members, peers, and advisors such as teachers, agents and seniors may have
an influence in the students choice of the major. On the other hand, Kim and Markham
(2002) confirmed that parents do influence students choice of business major, except
for those who chose accountancy as their major. Moreover, students choice of their
major can also be influenced by their parents occupation.

Media
Macionis (2000), in his study, also included the factor of mass media as a significant agent
influencing the students choice of major. He found that besides the influence of the family
on determining the choice of major among the students, mass media also showed
significant influence. Pearson and Dellmann (1997) also examined the impact of factors,
including parents, relatives, peers, teacher, and media, and found that the mass media has
a positive influence on students choice of major. Linda (2006), in her study explained how
the media influences the students choice of major. She stated that media in the form of
television, advertisement, Internet and so on affects the behavior of students, because the
students usually browse through media to access information about universities, courses
offered and the potential fields before choosing their major.

Objectives and Formulation of Hypotheses


The primary objective of the study is to identify what factors influence the students to
accept the offer of accounting as a major. The secondary objective is to see whether
there is a significant influence of parents educational level on the factors influencing
students to accept accounting as a major. The five major factors that have been
chosen in this study which may lead and influence students perception in choosing
the accounting program in UNIMAS are past achievements, personal interests, job or
income prospect, family and peers, and media (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Conceptual Framework


Past
Achievements
Personal Interests
Accepting the
Offer in Accounting
Program

Job or Income
Prospect
Family and Peers
Media

Independent Variable

Students
Perception in
Choosing the
Program
Moderating Variable

Dependent Variable

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The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &
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The following hypotheses were formulated to identify the factors influencing


students decision to accept the offer of accounting as a major.
Hypothesis 1:
H01: Past achievements do not have a significant impact on students choice of
accounting major.
Ha1: Past achievements have a significant impact on students choice of
accounting major.
Hypothesis 2:
H02: Personal interests do not have a significant impact on students choice of
accounting major.
Ha2: Personal interests have a significant impact on students choice of
accounting major.
Hypothesis 3:
H03: Job prospect does not have a significant impact on students choice of
accounting major.
Ha3: Job prospect has a significant impact on students choice of accounting major.
Hypothesis 4:
H04: Family members and peers do not have a significant impact on students
choice of accounting major.
Ha4: Family members and peers have a significant impact on students
choice of accounting major.
Hypothesis 5:
H05: Media does not have a significant impact on students choice of accounting
major. Ha5: Media has a significant impact on students choice of accounting major.

Data and Methodology


The primary data was collected through questionnaire (see Appendix). A total of 50
questionnaires were distributed to target respondents, who were the first batch of
accounting students in UNIMAS. However, 40 questionnaires were returned and
validated. For data analysis, descriptive statistic, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA),
Pearson correlation test and multiple regression analysis were used. The output from
the above analyses were tested and confirmed for their reliability and consistency.
The questionnaire consists of three parts:
Part A Demographic Profile: It consists of factors that are measured in nonparametric
form. This part was used to obtain information regarding respondents background, gender,
age, race, parents educational level, parents income, and parents occupation.
Factors Influencing the Students Choice of
Accounting as a Major

29

Part B Factors Influencing Choice of Accounting as a Major: These factors are


measured by means of Likert scale, ranging from the lowest scale 1 (strongly disagree) to
the highest scale 5 (strongly agree). Five factors were identified and tested to determine
whether they can influence the enrollment of students in accounting program, i.e., past
achievement, personal interest, job prospect, family and peers, and media.

Part C Students Perception in Accepting the Offer of Accounting Major: These


factors are also measured using the Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5 to indicate the
respondents interest that led them to accept the accounting program.

Results and Discussion


Pearson Correlation Test
Correlation refers to a broad class of statistical relationships involving dependent variable
and independent variables. It is observed from the correlation results given in Table 1, that
at 99% confidence level, the average job prospect has a positive and strong relationship
(0.683) with the dependent variable, which is student accepting the offer in accounting
program. There is also a significant relationship between student accepting the offer in
accounting program and past achievements (0.337 at 95% confidence level) and personal
interest (0.412 at 99% confidence level). The other factors such as family and peers and
media do not show a significant relationship with the dependent variable.

Table 1: Results of Pearson Correlation Test


Dvavg
AvgPA

Pearson Correlation

0.337

Sig. (2-tailed)

0.034

N
AvgPI

AvgFMP

Sig. (2-tailed)

0.008

AvgMP

40
**

Pearson Correlation

0.683

Sig. (2-tailed)

0.000
40

Pearson Correlation

0.075

Sig. (2-tailed)

0.645

N
**

0.412

Dvavg

40

Pearson Correlation
N

AvgJP

Dvavg

40

Pearson Correlation

0.301

Sig. (2-tailed)

0.059

40

Pearson Correlation

Sig. (2-tailed)
N

40

Note: ** Correlation is significant at 0.01 level; and * Correlation is significant at 0.05 level.

Multiple Regression Analysis


Regression analysis is conducted to see how strong is the relationship between dependent
variable (accepting the offer in accounting program) and the independent variables (past
achievements, personal interest, job or income prospect, family and peers and media).
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The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &
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The equation is:


Dvavgi 0 1PAi 2PIi 3 JPi 4FMPi 5MPi i where
Dvavgi = Dependent variable (accepting the offer in accounting program)
0

= Unknown parameter that, for example, minimizes the distance


between the measured and predicted values of the dependent variable

PAi

= Past Achievements

PIi

= Personal Interest

The results of the regression


analysis show that there is a fairly
strong linear relationship (Figure 2)
between the independent variables
and the dependent variable.
Table 2 shows that overall, there
is significant influence of the
independent variables on the
dependent variable as depicted by the
F-statistic (6.790, p= 0.000 < 0.01).

Expected Cum.

.Prob

JPi
= Job Prospect
FMP = Family and Peers Figure 2: Normal P-P Plot of Regression Standardized
i
Residual (Dependent Variable: Dvavg)
MPi = Media
= Error term, and
i
the subscript i indexes a particular
1.0
observation
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0

0 0.2 0.4

0.6 0.8

1.0

Observed Cum. Prob.

Table 2: Results of ANOVAb


Model

Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

Regression

5.658

1.132

Residual

5.666

34

0.167

Total

11.324

39

Note:

F-Statistic
6.790

Sig.
0.000a

Predictors: (Constant), AvgMP, AvgFMP, AvgPI, AvgJP, AvgPA; b Dependent Variable: Dvavg.

Table 3 indicates only job prospect has a significant influence (at p-value = 0.000 < 0.01)
over students accepting the offer of accounting as a major. Each one unit factor change in job
prospect may lead to 4.461 unit significant change in the choice for accounting as a major.
Factors Influencing the Students Choice of
Accounting as a Major

31

Table 3: Regression Results


Coefficients
Model

Unstandardized Standardized
Coefficients
Coefficients
B

(Constant)

t-Value

Sig.

Collinearity Statistics

Beta

2.147

Tolerance

VIF

4.275 0.000

AvgPA

0.217

0.222

1.251 0.220

0.469

2.132

AvgPI

0.016

0.023

0.136 0.893

0.525

1.903

AvgJP

0.608

0.771

4.461 0.000

0.493

2.030

0.063

0.089

0.677 0.503

0.856

1.168

0.096

0.150

1.035 0.308

0.704

1.421

AvgFMP
AvgMP

Regression Summary
Model

Adjusted-R2

0.707

R2

Std. Error of the Estimate

0.500

0.40822

Note: Tested at 99% confidence level or p = 0.000<0.01.

The correlation analysis (see Table 1) also showed a significant relationship between
job prospect and students accepting the offer of accounting as a major. Thus, the
regression result supports the ANOVA and correlation results. The Variance Inflation
Factor (VIF) of all variables is below 5, implying no collinearity exists among the
independent variables. Thus, the independent variables are considered suitable for the
purpose of estimating the dependent variable.
The R2 (= 0.500) value seems to be reasonable, implying that the independent variables
account for at least 50% of variation in the dependent variable as proxied by the students
accepting the offer in accounting program in UNIMAS, Session 2012-2013, Semester 1.

Reliability Test
Cronbachs is used to measure the reliability. Table 4 shows that the value of Cronbachs
(0.856) is larger than the critical value of 0.5. Thus, the reliability of coefficients is fairly
high. Therefore, the internal measurement is consistent (Hair et al., 2006).

Table 4: Reliability Statistics


Cronbachs Alpha

Cronbachs Alpha Based on Standardized Items

No. of Items

0.856

0.867

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Audit Practices, Vol. XII, No. 4, 2013


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The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &

One-Way ANOVA
The one-way analysis of variance is a technique used to compare means of two or more
samples using the F distribution. This test is conducted as authors are of the opinion that
the students parents educational level may influence the decision-making process. To see
whether the influence is significant or not, ANOVA test is conducted.
It is observed from Table 5 that there is no significant difference between the means of
students parents education and the factors: past achievements (F = 2.087, p = 0.103),
personal interests (F = 1.069, p = 0.386), job prospect (F = 2.130, p = 0.098), family
members and peers (F = 0.629, p = 0.645) and media (F = 0.860, p = 0.497). Thus, from
the above analysis, it is concluded that parents education has no significant influence over
the independent variables influencing students choice for university program.
The findings reveal that there is a significant relationship between job prospect and
students choice of accounting program. The Pearson correlation test results, however,
show that other than job prospect, factors such as past achievements and personal interest
also have a strong and significant relationship with students choice of accounting program.
Based on the results of hypotheses testing, job prospect is found to be the only factor
influencing students decision to accept the offer of accounting as a major. Thus, except
null hypothesis H03, we fail to reject the remaining null hypotheses. The findings of the
present study is consistent with that of Giladi et al. (2001).

Table 5: Results of ANOVA Between Parents Educational Level


and the Independent Variables

AvgPA

AvgPI

AvgJP

AvgFMP

AvgMP

Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

F-Value

Sig.

Between Groups

2.265

0.566

2.087

0.103

Within Groups

9.494

35

0.271

Total

11.759

39

Between Groups

2.343

0.586

1.069

0.386

Within Groups

19.173

35

0.548

Total

21.516

39

Between Groups

3.563

0.891

2.130

0.098

Within Groups

14.641

35

0.418

Total

18.204

39

Between Groups

1.517

0.379

0.629

0.645

Within Groups

21.114

35

0.603

Total

22.631

39

Between Groups

2.449

0.612

0.860

0.497

Within Groups

24.907

35

0.712

Total

27.356

39

Factors Influencing the Students Choice of

Accounting as a Major

33

Conclusion
The objective of this paper was to identify the factors influencing the decision of the students of
UNIMAS to accept the offer of accounting as a major. Apart from this, it also examined whether
parents education influences the factors influencing the students decision to accept the offer
accounting as a major. The findings reveal that there is no significant difference between the
means of students parents educational level and the factorspast achievements, personal
interest, job prospect, family members and peers and media. Thus, parents education does not
have a significant influence on the students decision to accept the offer of accounting as a
major. The regression analysis shows that overall, there is a fairly strong relationship between
the independent variables and the dependent variable as evident from the R2 value. Among the
independent variables, only job prospect has the highest and significant influence on the
students choice of accepting the offer of accounting as a major. However, other factors, tested
by previous researchers such as Sabot and Wakeman (1991), Dynan and Rouse (1997) and
Worthington and Higgs (2004), also obtained high reliability factor. Perhaps due to the limited
sample size of this study, which specifically examined the accounting students in a public
university, UNIMAS, the result is different slightly. The result might not be the same if the study
is extended taking into account other non-accounting major students in this university or other
private universities. Furthermore, there are other variables that influence students decision to
accept the offer of accounting as a major, such as the reputation of the university or college,
nature of the courses, parents income and government policy. Therefore, future research can
be done by considering increased sample size as well as various other kinds of variables in
order to get a more accurate result.

Besides, based on the results of Pearson correlation test which clearly show that media
and publicity do not have a significant relationship with the students accepting the offer in
accounting program, the government particularly for this university can play a role in order
to help improve advertising by using intense publicity or media campaign to encourage
students to enrol in accounting program. Road show and other types of promotion may
also be useful in attracting students to this new accounting program. Further, the industry
can be involved in recruiting strategies, giving scholarship and other incentives to students
who are qualified for this program.

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Appendix
Questionnaire
The purpose of this questionnaire is to collect information. The information collected is
absolutely confidential and only used for academic purpose. Your cooperation in completing
this questionnaire is very much appreciated. This questionnaire consists of three parts: Part
A: Demographic profile; Part B : Factors influencing choice of accounting as a major; and
Part C : Students perception in accepting the offer of accountancy program.

Part A: Demographic Profile

Please answer by placing a tick () or filling in the blank where necessary.

1.

Highest

qualification

before

enrolling

into

UNIMAS ( ) Matriculation
( ) STPM
( ) Diploma
( ) Other, please specify:______________

2.

Gender
( ) Male

( ) Female

3.

Age
( ) 18-19
( ) 20-21

( ) 21 and Above

4.

Race
( ) Malay
( ) Chinese
( ) Indian

( ) Other, please specify: __________


Factors Influencing the Students Choice of
Accounting as a Major

37

Appendix (Cont.)

5.

Please state the highest level of education achieved by your


parents ( ) Secondary School or Lower
( ) Diploma
( ) Degree

( ) Master or Higher

6.

Fathers Occupation
( ) Own Business
( ) Private Sector Employee (
) Government Servant

( ) Other, please specify: __________

7.

Mothers Occupation
( ) Own Business
( ) Private Sector Employee (
) Government Servant

( ) Housewife or other, please specify: __________

8.

Parents Total Monthly Income


( ) RM1,000 or Below
( ) RM1,001-RM2,000 ( )
RM2,001-RM3,000 ( )
RM3,001 and Above

9.

Financing

for

tuition

fees

in

the

university ( ) Parent(s)
( ) PTPTN Loan (
) Self Financing

( ) Other, please specify__________


38
The IUP Journal of Accounting
Research & Audit Practices, Vol. XII, No. 4, 2013

Appendix (Cont.)

Part B: Factors Influencing Choice of Accounting as a Major


Please circle the appropriate number that indicates your level of
agreement. 1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly Agree
I chose accounting as my major because:
Strongly
Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly
Agree

I always perform well in my academics.

I seldom fail in business subjects

It is my ambition to become an
accountant/auditor.

It is my decision to major in accounting.

1. Past Achievements
I always get good marks in Math
or Accounting.

or courses.
My foundation studies are related
to business or accounting subjects.
My previous achievements led
me to my future choice.

2. Personal Interests
I like calculation-based subjects rather
than memorization-based for subjects.

Factors Influencing the Students Choice of


Accounting as a Major

39

Appendix (Cont.)

I had planned to enter accountancy

Strongly
Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree Strongly
Agree

program before entering the university.


I am willing to continue my studies in
accountancy after I finish my degree.

3. Job Prospect
I expect my degree is marketable after
I graduate from this university.
I expect to earn high income after
I graduate in Bachelor of
Accountancy program.
I believe accounting field is in demand
these days.
I will not be exposed to danger
(physical) if I work in
accounting field.
I would like to create my own business,
and majoring in accounting may help
me in this regard.

4. Family Members and Peers


My family always involves and
advices me in selecting my academic
subjects or major.
My family background and access to
education influence me in selecting
my major.
My family persuades me to major
in accountancy program.

40
The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &
Audit Practices, Vol. XII, No. 4, 2013

Appendix (Cont.)

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Major in accountancy is encouraged

Neutral Agree Strongly


Agree

and recommended by my peers.


My friends and peers also selected
their degree in accounting or in
same university.
5. Media and Publicity
I always get the offer letters from
various institutions which guide
me to further my studies.
The road shows and education fair
drive me to choose major in accounting.
The information and offers from the
institutions website kindle my interest.
The banners about the course offered
by the institutions on the road motivate
me in selecting accounting as my
choice of major.
The advertisements on television/radio/
newspaper influence me to choose
accounting as my major.
Note: * Institutions may refer to any IPTA or IPTS in Malaysia or Overseas.
Part C: Students Perception with Regard to Accepting the Offer of Accountancy Program

Please circle the appropriate number that indicates your level of agreement with
each statement for Accounting program in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
1 = Strongly Disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly Agree
Factors Influencing the Students Choice of
Accounting as a Major

41

Appendix (Cont.)

Strongly
Disagree

Disagree Neutral Agree

I am satisfied and willing to


accept accounting course as a
major in the university.
I will accept and recommend this
accounting program to my family
members, peers and others.

I will spend more time and work


on accounting course to get
better results.
I will continue to enhance my
knowledge in accountingrelated subjects.
I will enter accounting field after
I graduate in accounting major.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Reference # 09J-2013-10-02-01

42
The IUP Journal of Accounting Research &
Audit Practices, Vol. XII, No. 4, 2013

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited


without permission.