The purpose of this paper is to identify the major transition issues experienced by first-year students in Malaysia. In so doing, the authors compare the findings to those drawn from western contexts.
This study applied a focus group method, conducting seven focus groups with a total of 35 business students.
This study identified five skills that are central to quick adaptation to university learning: independent learning, research, time management, English and critical thinking. Unlike findings in the western literature, the findings of this study do not indicate social aspect as a major adjustment issue.
The generalisability of the findings is limited due to the study’s small sample size. To overcome this, future researchers should consider a national study using a survey-based research method. To test whether students in a relationship-based culture are less prone to challenges related to social aspects in their transitions into university, cross-national or cross-cultural studies are needed.
The study’s findings point to the need for Malaysia’s universities to strengthen their transition programmes, and proactively form closer relationships with high schools to help their students identify suitable courses and develop their curricula.
This study highlights the inadequacy of private education in bridging the gap between high schools and private university education in Malaysia. As most first-year-experience studies have used western samples, this study provides much needed data addressing the development of higher education and its relationship with the school systems of developing countries.
This study is funded by a seed grant awarded by the School of Business, Monash University, Malaysia.
Terpstra-Tong, J. and Ahmad, A. (2018), "High school-university disconnect: a complex issue in Malaysia", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 851-865. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-10-2016-0214Download as .RIS
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