The role of cultural dimensions of international and Dutch students on academic and social integration and academic performance in the Netherlands

B.C. Rienties*, D.T. Tempelaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A common belief among educators is that international students are insufficiently adjusted to higher education in their host country, both academically and socially. Furthermore, several groups of international students experience considerable amounts of stress while adapting to the culture of the host-institute, but limited research has addressed whether and how transitional issues influence academic performance. In a cross-institutional comparison among 1275 students at nine higher educational institutes in the Netherlands, differences in academic performance between Dutch and international students were identified by focussing on their levels of academic and social integration. Students’ academic integration was measured with the Students’ Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ), while students’ social integration was measured by the Social Integration Questionnaire. Afterwards, 757 international students from 52 countries were clustered into nine geographical clusters using Hofstede's cultural dimension scores.

The results indicate that some groups of international students experience considerable personal-emotional and social adjustment issues, while other groups of international students adjust fairly straightforward. In particular, international students from Confucian Asia score substantially lower on academic integration than their Western peers, with moderate to strong effect sizes. The cultural dimensions of Hofstede significantly predicted academic adjustment and social adjustment, in particular power-distance (negative), masculinity and uncertainty avoidance (both positive). Follow-up multi-level analyses show that academic adjustment is the primary predictor for academic success. The results imply that higher educational institutes should focus on facilitating academic adjustment of (Bachelor) international students, in particular non-Western students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-201
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Acculturation
  • Academic integration
  • Education
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Cognition
  • Academic performance

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