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Success factors for international postgraduate students' adjustment: exploring the roles of intercultural competence, language proficiency, social contact and social support

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young, Dr Peter Sercombe, Rola Naeb, Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD



Abstract The enormous growth in the number of ‘international’ students in higher education is a phenomenon of increasing importance to educators, educational and intercultural researchers and to policy makers worldwide. This study considerably widened the scope of previous investigations in the area by integrating associations between a broad range of adjustment indices – academic grades (here, measured as the products of both taught and research assignments), psychological wellbeing, and satisfaction with life in the new environment – and contributory factors such as participants’ intercultural competence, language proficiency, and the degree, quality and patterns of social contact during their sojourn. The investigation was multimethodological, involving a questionnaire with both quantitative and qualitative responses, and semi-structured interviews over the period of study. Participants were 108 non-UK postgraduate students from a variety of countries undertaking Masters programmes in the humanities or social sciences at a British university. Findings provided empirical foundation for a model of international student adjustment which adds to our understanding of the interrelationships between contributory factors and outcomes. Implications of these findings, and a future research agenda, are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Sercombe PG, Sachdev I, Naeb R, Schartner A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Higher Education

Year: 2013

Volume: 3

Issue: 2

Pages: 151-171

Print publication date: 21/12/2012

Date deposited: 05/03/2013

ISSN (print): 2156-8235

ISSN (electronic): 2156-8243

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/21568235.2012.743746


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