Research in Higher Education

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 739–767 | Cite as

International Postgraduate Students’ Cross-Cultural Adaptation in Malaysia: Antecedents and Outcomes

  • Azadeh ShafaeiEmail author
  • Nordin Abd Razak


This study develops and empirically tests a conceptual model capturing the factors impacting students’ cross-cultural adaptation and the outcomes resulting from such adaption. Data were obtained from a sample of international postgraduate students from six Malaysian public universities using a structured questionnaire. Structural equation modelling using SmartPLS was utilised to analyse the data. The results indicate that amongst the antecedent variables (i.e. the individual and situational factors); only two relationships are not significantly supported; (a) media usage to psychological adaptation; and (b) attachment attitude to sociocultural adaptation. All the other relationships in the proposed model are significantly supported. The findings of the study further support significant and positive influence of psychological and sociocultural adaptations of international postgraduate students on their perceived psychological well-being and perceived academic satisfaction and ultimately on positive word of mouth in recommending the host country’s educational institutions to others. The findings of this study provide insights into the Malaysian higher education policymakers especially those associated with expanding market potential as well as university administrators to manage the changes and accommodate the needs of international students in order to retain and attract more international students. This paper also elaborates the theoretical, empirical, practical and managerial implications of the findings of the study.


Cross-cultural adaptation Psychological adaptation Sociocultural adaptation Conceptual framework International students Internationalization of higher education 



Azadeh Shafaei Darastani is the recipient of USM Global Fellowship. The authors also acknowledge the support of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) through Research University Grant (Grant Number: 1001/PGURU/816267).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Educational StudiesUniversiti Sains Malaysia (USM)PenangMalaysia

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