Higher Education

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 235–249 | Cite as

The international student experience: three styles of adaptation

  • Jean RussellEmail author
  • Doreen Rosenthal
  • Garry Thomson


The subjective well-being of a sample of 979 international students attending a large metropolitan university in Melbourne, Australia, was investigated. A person-focussed approach was used to determine whether different ways of adapting, based on patterns of well-being, could be discerned. Cluster analysis of responses on 21 measures identified three different patterns: positive and connected (58.8% of students), unconnected and stressed (34.4%), and distressed and risk-taking (6.7%). Tests of the concurrent validity of the typology were significant. Demographic factors were not particularly helpful in distinguishing among the three patterns of well-being. The results provide universities with knowledge pertinent to provision of appropriate international student support.


International students Student needs Styles of adaptation Well-being 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Post-compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, Faculty of EducationThe University of MelbourneVICAustralia
  2. 2.Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society, School of Population HealthThe University of MelbourneVICAustralia
  3. 3.Academic Services (Health, Counselling and Disability Services)The University of MelbourneVICAustralia

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