Academic Adjustment Issues in a Malaysian Research University: The Case of Cambodian, Laotian, Burmese, and Vietnamese Postgraduate Students’ Experiences

  •  Rany Sam    
  •  Ahmad Zain    
  •  Hazri Jamil    
  •  Thongma Souriyavongsa    
  •  Le To Do Quyen    


The Malaysian government aims to help the bottom billion countries, which are its neighbouring countries in the South East Asian region, for their human capital development through providing university postgraduate scholarship projects. Those countries include Cambodia, Laos PDR, Burma or Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV), which are favourite countries for its technical assistance. Due to the countries’ various educational systems, postgraduate students have experienced some academic difficulties during their studies and research in Malaysian universities. A qualitative research method is employed to investigate students’ living strategies, perception of academic success, and academic adjustment problems in a Malaysian university.  Research samples were conducted conveniently selected from a total of 17 students made up of 6 Cambodian, 4 Laotian, 2 Myanmar, and 5 Vietnamese postgraduate students (47, 05% females and 52, 94% males) who have studied in the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) so called the Research University in the academic year 2012/2013, where they have attended the schools of educational studies, social science, and materials and mineral resource engineering. The result showed that the most difficult problem in term of academic adjustment which is English language difficulty in their new learning environment. In order to remedy such matters, they must strive to study hard, to improve English proficiency, and to make good relations with their academic staff, thesis supervisors, and other postgraduate students. In other words, social adjustment is considered as one of the important strategies that enable them to cope with the context of Malaysian culture. Based on the findings, the researchers provide recommendations to facilitate CLMV students to make better adjustments in a Malaysian research university and to achieve their academic endeavour.

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