Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether ethnicity makes a difference to the level of respect given to teachers by tertiary accounting students. In particular, it examines whether ethnicity has an impact on students' perceptions regarding their teachers' attributes and behaviors, which in turn influences their respect for their teachers. Design/methodology/approach: First year accounting students, both domestic and international, were surveyed in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, using a purpose-designed online questionnaire. "Ethnicity" was categorized according to first language, resulting in three categories: Home, Chinese and Other International. Student responses to quantitative questions regarding attributes and behaviors were analyzed using MANOVA and ANOVA. Open-ended questions provided further insight into student perceptions. Findings: Regarding teachers' attributes, statistically significant differences are seen between the ethnic groups in qualifications, classroom control and professional qualifications or work experience, but not in teachers' behaviors. The open-ended questions provided student contributions regarding respect. These included "clarity" and "good English skills." Originality/value: This research contributes to debates over the impact of ethnic diversity in the classroom. It also contributes to the debate over the definition of the concept of "ethnicity." A comparison between three countries is unusual; all have significant numbers of international students. Value is added through the findings, which challenge often-held assumptions regarding stereotypical "Chinese learners." The findings will also assist teachers who have large numbers of international students in their classrooms.