Since the mid-1980s, professional accounting bodies, employers of accounting graduates and academics alike have lamented the failure of universities to equip accounting graduates with the competencies required for the modern business environment. Changes to accounting education have been made but the gap between the competencies which employers expect—and perceive—accounting graduates to possess has not previously been examined holistically. Based on a review of the literature, a framework of accounting education's expectation-performance gap (comprising an expectation gap, a constraints gap and a performance gap) is proposed. The paper also reports an exploratory study designed to test the proposed framework. Following a document study of the accounting programme of a New Zealand university, interviews were conducted with students, academics, graduate trainees and employers associated with the programme. The research provides support for the proposed framework and resulted in identifying ways in which the gap may be narrowed.