Higher Education

, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp 651–666 | Cite as

‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ Do international students’ acculturation attitudes impact their ethical academic conduct?

  • Azadeh ShafaeiEmail author
  • Mehran Nejati
  • Ali Quazi
  • Tania von der Heidt


International students undertaking higher education in foreign countries bring with them some perceived beliefs about academic conduct. These beliefs are often in contrast with the host countries’ academic practices, which may generate confusion and frustration among international students, affecting their learning behaviours. As a consequence of intercultural interactions in a foreign country, international students’ beliefs and behaviours may change. Since Malaysia has emerged to be a hub of educational excellence in the region by transforming its higher education, thereby attracting increasing number of international students, this paper aims to investigate whether international students’ acculturation-oriented attitudes impact their ethical academic conduct pertaining to research, exams and assignments in a public university in Malaysia. The results reveal that students adjusting to the local academic norms demonstrate significant positive commitments to host country’s academic norms concerning research, exam and assignments. However, students upholding the norms of their home countries tend to show non-significant attitudes towards host country’s academic norms. These findings have strategic policy implications for the host educational institutions that are highlighted in the paper. The paper also identifies its limitations and explores future research potential.


Acculturation Adjustment attitude Attachment attitude Academic conduct International students Malaysia 



Azadeh Shafaei is the recipient of USM Global Fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azadeh Shafaei
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mehran Nejati
    • 2
  • Ali Quazi
    • 3
  • Tania von der Heidt
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Educational StudiesUniversiti Sains Malaysia (USM)PenangMalaysia
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessUniversiti Sains Malaysia (USM)PenangMalaysia
  3. 3.School of ManagementUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Business SchoolSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

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