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The Relevance of Business Law Education for Future Accountants: A New Zealand Perspective

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Document pages: 16 pages

Abstract: The importance of business law education is emphasised by the fact that there is a compulsory commercial law topic in the academic requirements for a chartered accountants programme of study. However, researchers over time have pointed out that there was a gap between the legal awareness and understanding expected of graduate accountants and the legal education offered at a tertiary level. This study attempts to determine whether the current business law curriculum offered at two New Zealand universities is adequate in terms of preparing accounting students for the wide variety of legal issues that they may be exposed to throughout their careers. A mixed methods approach was used. Specifically, quantitative data was obtained through an online questionnaire which was distributed to accounting students at two New Zealand universities. The purpose of these surveys was to gain information on students perceptions of the adequacy of the business law curriculum at their universities. Overall, the findings indicate that gaps currently exist between what is currently taught and what students believe ought to be taught. Specifically, the results reflect accounting students belief that each of the 11 business law topics identified in the survey should be explored in greater detail. In particular, taxation law, employment law and trust law have the largest disparities between the level of detail taught and the level of detail expected by students. The key change recommended by students is that of a shift from the traditional law approach (which focuses on the technical details of contracts and other traditional legal topics) to the legal environment approach (which places more emphasis on understanding how the legal system operates and the role of the law in business). This is a recommendation which many academics have advocated since the late 1960s but which business schools have only instituted piecemeal and what appears to be on an ad hoc and inadequate manner.

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