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Acculturation stress and social support for international students' adjustment in Malaysia: does language proficiency matter?

Sana Anwar Lashari (School of Applied Psychology, Social Work and Policy, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia)
Rosna Awang-Hashim (Institute for Excellent Teachers and Leaders in Education (IETLE), Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Malaysia)
Tahira Anwar Lashari (School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Amrita Kaur (College of Liberal Arts, Wenzhou-Kean University, Wenzhou, China)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 21 April 2022

Issue publication date: 28 February 2023

693

Abstract

Purpose

International students with low proficiency in the English language remain at high risk of academic, social and psychological maladjustment. Using an acculturation theoretical framework, this study aims to show that acculturation stress and social support mediate the relationship between language proficiency and academic, social, and psychological adjustment among 675 international postgraduate students in Malaysian public universities.

Design/methodology/approach

Correlational research design was employed to gather data from 227 females and 448 males aged between 22–45 years belonging to Asian, Middle Eastern or African countries. Out of these, 292 students were enrolled in master's degrees, and 383 students were enrolled in Ph.D. Self-administered questionnaires were used which includes Student Adjustment to the College Questionnaire (SACQ) to measure students' academic adjustment, Kwak to assess students' English language proficiency, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) to assess perceived availability of social support from friends and Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students (ASSIS) to measure acculturation stress.

Findings

The hypothesized model was tested using path analysis with manifest variables in Analysis of Moment Structures (AMOS) 23.0. The findings suggest that language proficiency is a significant predictor of academic, social and psychological adjustment of international students, and this relationship is partially mediated by acculturation stress and social support.

Research limitations/implications

The article concludes with implications and recommendations for international student offices and program organizers to ensure conditions for successful academic, social and psychological adjustment of the international students.

Originality/value

The manuscript has not been published or submitted elsewhere.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Research and Innovation Management Centre (RIMC), Universiti Utara Malaysia for providing funding under the grant Insentif Pascasiswazah (SO Code 15985).

Citation

Lashari, S.A., Awang-Hashim, R., Lashari, T.A. and Kaur, A. (2023), "Acculturation stress and social support for international students' adjustment in Malaysia: does language proficiency matter?", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 496-508. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-07-2021-0285

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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