Academic journal article Business Education & Accreditation

Model to Evaluate Attrition/retention Decisions by Accountancy Diploma Students: Case Study Evidence from Sudan

Academic journal article Business Education & Accreditation

Model to Evaluate Attrition/retention Decisions by Accountancy Diploma Students: Case Study Evidence from Sudan

Article excerpt


Research to date which has analyzed attrition at universities and community colleges has tended to focus on clusters of factors which may or may not impact attrition. This paper extends the current literature and develops a model to evaluate attrition. Three core groups of factors which impact attrition are developed into a model. These are external factors, internal faculty factors, and demographic factors. The model was then tested on accounting students and the departmental head of a public institution offering accounting diploma programs in Sudan. The model identified many impacting factors from the three core groups. Satisfactory explanations were also available as to why other factors were not found significant, in this particular testing environment.

JEL: I20, 129, M10

KEYWORD: Attrition, Accountancy Diploma Students, Attrition Model, Sudan


The demand for accounting trainees has increased in recent years. Accounting governing bodies such as AICPA (2004), note how current business and legal environments should be encouraging an expansion of the accounting profession. However, evidence suggests the supply of competent accountants is insufficient to meet the current demand. Fielding (2005) notes a UK research study by RHI (2001) which found that 40% of respondents reported their accounting firm had faced difficulty in recruiting staff with the right accounting skills, to fulfil their increased workload. Similarly, in Australia, difficulty in recruiting competent accountants is noted by CPA Australia (2011).

According to Glass and Oakley (2003) this lack of supply can be attributed in part to the shortage of accounting graduates. According to Byrne and Flood (2005) and French and Cappage (2011) in several developed countries, whereas the demand for business studies has increased, the number of accounting graduates has decreased. Bean and Bemardi (2005), and Sullivan (2006) stated that there is a lot of negative publicity surrounding the profession Rogers, Dillard and Yuthas (2005) noted that the accounting profession's appearance and reputation is based upon it being seen to act with the "highest sense of integrity". Enron and subsequent accounting scandals emanating from the global financial crisis, have contributed to the accounting profession's poor image and a loss of public trust in the profession. Heiat and Brown (2007), explained that this has led to a reduction in students considering majoring in accounting. Diamond (2005) stated that the accounting profession is heavily reliant upon accounting programs to produce trainee accountants any reduction in the number of accountancy graduates will impact the profession. Wilkerson (2010) further added that the accounting education can be viewed as underpinning the whole accounting profession.

Attracting potential students to study accounting is however only part of the issue. Retention of students within accounting programs during their studies, and to completion, is a separate and equally critical issue. Accountancy attrition has become gradually more significant in higher education. In this study, the term attrition is used to refer to a student dropping out completely, transferring to a different college, or changing their major. Definitions of what exactly attrition is can vary, so this definition is selected as it is consistent with Dera (2004, p. 3) among others.

Bowler (2009) notes that attrition rates for universities and community colleges average 30% in the first year. Whereas a certain percentage of students can always be expected to drop out Mulverry (quoted in AAP (2005) considered a rate of 10-14% to be acceptable for an institution). This percentage should be minimised as much as possible. The purpose of the current study therefore is to develop a comprehensive model with which to evaluate factors which impact upon attrition rates in accountancy programs. Such a model will contribute to the extant literature in several ways by:

(i) Adding to our understanding of the problems facing management of accounting training institutions, concerning low retention and high attrition rates among students;

(ii) Investigating the factors that cause high attrition rates in accounting programs; and

(iii) Comparing the attitudes of students to those of management, as to the most significant factors impacting attrition. …

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