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Stress is a common health problem among university students despite being a socially advantaged group. Therefore, the purpose of the paper is to explore the prevalence of stress among university students, specifically among the Bachelor of Accounting students from three universities in Malaysia. The sample consisted of 183 students and the data were obtained through the distribution of the questionnaire. The results suggest that students in private university experience stress higher than those in the public universities. The results also indicate that the possible sources of stress are related to the academic environments such as assessment format, academic load and subject difficulty. This study has added a new knowledge to the educational and psychological literature area particularly in developing economic setting especially in the Malaysian education environment. In addition to that, this study also has practical contribution by providing a cogent argument for universities to implement interventional strategies to reduce the stress level. Effort to mitigate student stress levels may decrease the likelihood of health and mental problem.
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Journal of Business and Social Development e- ISSN: 2600-9668
Volume 7 Number 1, March 2019 ©Penerbit UMT
Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
STRESS AMONG ACCOUNTING STUDENTS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF MALAYSIAN
UNIVERSITIES
MOHD NAZLI MOHD NOR1*, HAIRUL SUHAIMI NAHAR2, BAKHTIAR ALRAZI3, ROSHAIZA TAHA1
1School of Maritime Business and Management, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, 21030 Kuala Nerus,
Terengganu, Malaysia.
2Department of Accounting, College of Economics and Political Science, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat,
Sultanate of Oman.
3Department of Accounting, College of Business Management and Accounting, Universiti Tenaga Nasional,
26700 Muadzam Shah, Pahang
*Corresponding author: nazli@umt.edu.my
Abstract: Stress is a common health problem among university students despite being a
socially advantaged group. Therefore, the purpose of the paper is to explore the prevalence
of stress among university students, specifically among the Bachelor of Accounting
students from three universities in Malaysia. The sample consisted of 183 students and the
data were obtained through the distribution of the questionnaire. The results suggest that
students in private university experience stress higher than those in the public universities.
The results also indicate that the possible sources of stress are related to the academic
environments such as assessment format, academic load and subject difficulty. This study
has added a new knowledge to the educational and psychological literature area particularly
in developing economic setting especially in the Malaysian education environment. In
addition to that, this study also has practical contribution by providing a cogent argument
for universities to implement interventional strategies to reduce the stress level. Effort to
mitigate student stress levels may decrease the likelihood of health and mental problem.
Keywords: Stress, Student, Accounting, Education, University
Introduction
Stress is referred by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) as
“a condition or feeling experienced when a person
perceives that demands exceed the personal and social
resources that the individual is able to mobilise (as
cited in Zhenghong, Shinde, & Willems, 2013, p. 1).
While stress can act as motivation to some, failure to
manage stress effectively could result in feelings of
fear, incompetence, uselessness, anger, and guilt (Eva
et al., 2015). Excessive stress imposes a negative
effect on one’s physical and psychological health as
well as productivity (Zhenghong J. Hou, Shinde, &
Willems, 2013). According to World Health
Organization (WHO), depression one of the many
effects of stress is the main cause of disability across
the globe and a major contributor to the overall global
burden of disease (WHO, 2018). In fact, more than
300 million of the world’s population suffer from
depression (WHO, 2018).
Research has shown the prevalence of stress among
students of higher learning institutions, mainly due to
the needs to adapt to various psychosocial changes
and to cope with the academic and social demands of
their respective fields (Uehara, Takeuchi, Kubota,
Oshima, & Ishikawa, 2010). Some of the causes of
stress suggested include meeting grade requirements,
test taking, volume of materials to be learned, and
time management (Beiter et al., 2015). In Malaysia,
the Ministry of Health has issued alarming statistics
which shows the worsening trend of Malaysian
students suffering from mental health problems. The
ratio of 1:10 in 2011 had increased to 1:5 in 2016
(Bernama, 2016). Recently, a student was found dead
after shooting himself in the toilet at a private college
in Subang Jaya citing prolonged depression as the
possible reason (Zolkepli, 2018). This tragic incidence
attests to the severity of the problem and the
importance of addressing it sooner, rather than later.
Indeed, four out of 10 Malaysians claim to have
mental issues and psychologies believe that the
numbers will continue to increase (Kanyakumari,
2017).
Stress has an adverse impact on the quality of
student life and academic success. However, except
for Gabre and Kumar (2012) and Zhenghong J. Hou et
al. (2013), there has been a limited number of studies
which specifically investigated the level of stress
faced by accounting undergraduate students.
Accounting has been increasingly a popular choice
STRESS AMONG ACCOUNTING STUDENTS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITIES
Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
among students to pursue their tertiary education
which is in line with the national aspiration to produce
60,000 professional accountants by the year 2020
(Bernama, 2015). However, the abundant job
opportunities available comes together with the need
to masterhighly technical and quantitative courses as
well as to adapt to the rapid changing environments
pertaining to accounting and auditing standards as
well as taxation regulations has triggered the stress
issue among the accounting students. Furthermore,
there has been a critique by the industry that the
current graduates are lacking in term of soft skills
(Hoffelder, 2018) hence demanding them to spend
their time with various co-curricular activities.
Consequently, there is anecdotal evidence to support
that the attrition rate among accounting students has
been increasing significantly (Gabre & Kumar, 2012).
Finally, differences in the governance of public and
private universities (Khalid, Irshad, & Mahmood
2012; Volkwein and Parmley, 2000) are expected to
cause different levels and causes of stress among the
accounting undergraduate students.
Drawing upon the facts and arguments, the
objectives of this research are twofold. First, it
examines the level of stress among accounting
undergraduate students in selected universities in
Malaysia. Second, it aims to delineate the sources of
stress among these students. This research extends our
understanding of stress and its sources among
accounting undergraduate students across different
types of universities. Additionally, since stress could
bring about devastating effects, the findings from this
research are hoped to create awareness among the
higher education providers, parents, and students
themselves to search for ways to manage stress among
students in a more effective manner.
The remainder of the paper is structured as follows.
Section 2 reviews relevant literature. Section 3
presents the methodology. Section 4 discusses the
results and Section 5 concludes.
Literature Review
The stress literature provides various specific context
of stress definitions. In the science context for
instance, stress refers to physical responses to
pressures upon which the body will release a complex
mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline in
preparing the body for physical action (Bruess &
Tevis, 1985). The general perspective of stress takes a
more universal definition by relating it to the unique
individual’s perception disequilibrium whereby the
demand practically exceeds the resources available to
be utilized in achieving certain targets in life (Lazarus
& Folkman, 1984). Such definition effectively
suggests that stress represents both the exante and
expost feelings of not having the desired resources in
meeting the expected objectives in life and/or not
meeting the expected life targets itself.
In the specific academic context, prior stress
studies have attempted to identify myriads of
sources (Hodgson & Simoni, 1995) as well as
reactions to stress (Misra & Castillo, 2004). The
extant of literature relating to the former noticeably
covers two broad elements of academic related and
others. Majority of past studies provide that
academic challenges are major factors that lead to
students feeling stressed, anxiety and depressed,
which subsequently affecting student’s life. These
include various elements affecting students’ learning
activities such as pressures of meeting grade
requirements, assessment structure, learning loads
and time management (Beiter et al., 2015; Crocker
& Luhtanen, 2003; Kumaraswamy, 2013; Misra &
McKean, 2000).
Besides the above factors, academic subject
difficulties further influence student’s stress level
and severity. It refers to the difficulty level of the
academic subject, practically arising from the
subject’s complexity level which commonly relates
to the subject’s technical parts. It has been argued in
the literature to provide a direct impact on student’s
stress level as high subject’s difficulty level
effectively requires a high level of student’s
comprehension ability in understanding the subject
matter (Bruhn et al., 2002). This systematically
generates pressure and psychological stress within
students. The propensity is argued to be even higher
when it is coupled with other factors such as
academic load, academic assessment complexity as
well as other external pressures from peers and
family.
Academic load has also been identified in the
literature to have created stress among students as
the required knowledge base and the time available
to develop it might be unmatched (Carveth, Gesse,
& Moss, 1996). High academic load systematically
causes time constraint on the part of the students
especially in completing certain academic tasks or
activities (Guo, 2011; Koh, Scully, & Woodliff,
2011). This is further confounded by the presence of
complex academic assessment, conceptually refers
to a specific assessment structure as an objective
medium to measure student’s performance.
Student’s performance is commonly assessed
through various evaluation techniques such as
continuous quizzes, tests, assignments, presentation
and report. These were reported by Clift and
Thomas (1983) as major sources of students’ stress.
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Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
Non-academic factors include elements indirectly
related to students’ learning activities which cover
issues such as social transition to a new university
life which could be in a different country
(Robotham, 2008), family lacking the financial
stability which subsequently contributes toward
stress creation and accumulation (Eisenberg,
Gollust, Golberstein, & Hefner, 2007). A study by
Cahir and Morris (1991) identifies three sources of
stress among graduate students covering academic,
emotional and financial. It discovers that student
may be sensitive to stress because the transition to a
new environment in a college setting could be
different and demanding as many college life related
tasks potentially warrant students to have the
necessary specific skills and life techniques which
can be stressful and challenging. These effectively
represent a combination of both internal (individual)
and external (environment) factors.
A recent research by Beiter et al., (2015)
provides evidence identifying sources of depression,
anxiety and stress among students. It includes
academic performance, pressure to succeed, post-
graduation plans, financial concerns, quality of
sleep, relationship with friends, relationship with
family, overall health, body image and self-esteem.
The study indicates that the top four concerns by
students are on academic performance, pressure to
succeed, post-graduation plans and financial
concerns which collectively related to students’ life.
The study also finds that students who lived off-
campus, transfer student and upper class-men
(senior) were the most stressed, anxious and
depressed. Prior studies have also identified
individual specific internal elements such as low
selfesteem and life satisfaction which
systematically lead to the state of an inferiority
complex as potential stressors (Beiter et al., 2015, p.
91); Goswami, Sachdeva, & Sachdeva, 2012).
Another individual factor which contributes to the
stress includes poor sleeping habits (Orzech et al.,
2011) which subsequently shapes an individual’s
life arrangement associated with a disorganized life
setting.
The implication of stress could be numerous.
Prior research investigating the negative effects of
depression, anxiety and stress indicate that stress is
linked to various poor behaviours critically harmful
to individual health such as poor sleeping habits and
diet, lack of exercise and smoking (Doom &
Haeffel, 2013). Anxiety disorders individuals have
also been reported to have a poor quality of life
(Barrera and Norton, 2009). These suggest that
academic stress could provide multiple adverse
impacts on students’ performance and their life in
various ways. It includes physical and mental health
conditions (Macgeorge, Samter, & Gillihan, 2005;
Roberts & White 1989) and academic performance
(Blumberg & Flaherty, 1985).
Stress management and its research are therefore
important particularly in an education setting as
stress among accounting students is practically
critical in view that it forms an important
component of an individual’s success or failure
factor academically. The severity and timing of
students’ stress would systematically affect their
well-being including that of academic, mental and
general health, as well as social aspects. Arguably,
the existing academic loads for accounting course in
Malaysian universities requires stable emotions as
the course is undeniably heavy, having critical
subjects relevant for industry needs, whilst its
subjects’ offerings are almost fixed given the
stringent monitoring from various accreditation
bodies specifically the Malaysian accounting
profession.
Based on academic and non-academic factors
mentioned above, it is worthwhile to explore the
stress level and stressor to deeply understand the
real issues which relevant towards producing good
quality accounting students. In addition this study
may shed a light in supporting the national agenda
of Malaysian governments to produce 60,000
professional accountants as so far, although
Malaysia does produce significant number of
accounting graduates only low percentage of them
pursues their careers requires in the accounting
field. Given the strategic role of stress as important
“noise” factor affecting individual’s well-being
aspects particularly the academic performance
among accounting students, it is thus imperative that
individual’s stress levels and stressors are
empirically examined and explored in this study.
Therefore, the study attempts to fill the gap in
existing research by focusing upon the academic
stress of accounting students to measure their stress
levels and drivers, caused by the identified stressors.
Methodology
Respondents for this study includes Bachelor
Accounting students from three universities in
Malaysia. Participating universities are the Research
University (rename as UA), a well establish
government funded university in Malaysia, New
University (rename as UB), a new university funded
by the Malaysia government and finally, Private
University (rename as UC), a leading private
university in Malaysia. Self-administered
questionnaires were distributed to students in three
universities and respondents were informed that
participation was entirely voluntary and the
information provided will be kept confidential and
the data would be reported in aggregate form. As
this was a preliminary study, a convenience
11
STRESS AMONG ACCOUNTING STUDENTS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITIES
Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
sampling technique was used where the researchers
solicited the aid of contact lecturers to co-ordinate
the research within the university.
The questionnaire was divided into 3 sections:
demographic information, stress and stress factors.
Information obtained in demographic section
includes gender, race, age, year of study, current
cumulative grade point average (CGPA), university
entrance, financing and family income. The study
used Kessler10 Psychological Distress instrument
(K10) developed by Kessler et al., (2002). The
instrument has been widely used in different
countries to measure the level of stress and has good
psychometric properties (Abdulghani, Alkanhal,
Mahmoud, Ponnamperuma, & Alfaris, 2011). This
instrument consists of 10 questions and was scored
using a Likert 5 point. The score will be
accumulated and was interpreted as follows: a score
of less than 20 was considered not to represent stress
while a score of 20-24 represented mild stress, 25-
29 represented moderate stress and 30-50
represented severe stress (Brooks, Beard, & Steel,
2006). The three categories of stress are group as
one and named as “presence of stress”.
Result
Questionnaires were sent to 350 students and 183
questionnaires were returned (52% response rate).
Specifically, 100 questionnaires were sent to UA
and UC, whereas 150 to UB. The number of
questionnaires return for UA, UB and UC were 72
(72%), 58 (39%) and 53 (53%), respectively.
Table 1 shows the characteristics of the respondents.
It revealed that the majority of the students were
female (72.7%), Malay (72.1%) and aged below
than 23 years old (77.6%). They were either in their
3rd year of study (53%) or in their final year
(45.9%). Most of the students in this study obtained
good results, between 3.0 and 3.5 (44.8%), followed
by 2.5 to 2.99 (27.9%) and above 3.5 (21.3%). Loan
is the students’ main source of finance with 56.8%.
This is expected when the majority of the students’
parent income is below than RM5,000 per month
(80.9%). The students were predominantly from
matriculation
1
(70.5%), followed by diploma
(20.8%) and STPM
2
holder (8.7%). 71% of the
respondents were from the public universities as two
out of three universities in this study are government
funded universities.
1
Matriculation is a pre-university program establishes
either by the government or private university.
2
Apart from matriculation program, Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran
Malaysia or STPM is a pre university examination taken
by students in Malaysia and equivalent to the A-Level.
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Mohd Nazli Mohd Nor et al.
Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
Table 1: Demographic Information
University A
University C
Total
Number
%
Number
%
Number
%
Number
%
Gender
Male
18
25.0
13
22.4
19
35.8
50
27.3
Female
54
75.0
45
77.6
34
64.2
133
72.7
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Race
Malay
52
72.2
46
79.3
34
64.2
132
72.1
Chinese
15
20.8
8
13.8
0
0
23
12.6
Indian
4
5.6
4
6.9
18
34.0
26
14.2
Others
1
1.4
0
0
1
1.9
2
1.1
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Age
≤23
58
80.6
41
70.7
43
81.1
142
77.6
24≤x≤30
14
19.4
17
29.3
10
18.9
41
22.4
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Year of study
2nd year
0
0
0
0
2
3.8
2
1.1
3rd year
0
0
57
98.3
40
75.5
97
53.0
4th year
72
100.0
1
1.7
11
20.8
84
45.9
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Current CGPA
<2.5
1
1.4
9
15.5
1
1.9
11
6.0
2.5≤x<3.0
4
5.6
34
58.6
13
24.5
51
27.9
3.0≤x≤3.5
51
70.8
5
8.6
26
49.1
82
44.8
>3.5
16
22.2
10
17.2
13
24.5
39
21.3
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Type of financing
Sponsorship
57
79.2
6
10.3
6
11.3
69
37.7
Loan
11
15.3
48
82.8
45
84.9
104
56.8
Own financing
4
5.6
4
6.9
2
3.8
10
5.5
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Parent income
<1k
7
9.7
9
15.5
5
9.4
21
11.5
1k≤x<3k
29
40.3
23
39.7
14
26.4
66
36.1
3k≤x<5k
20
27.8
21
36.2
20
37.7
61
33.3
5k≤x<10k
11
15.3
4
6.9
12
22.6
27
14.7
≥10k
5
6.9
1
1.7
2
3.8
8
4.4
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
University entrance
Matriculation
63
87.5
32
55.2
34
64.2
129
70.5
STPM
1
1.4
9
15.5
6
11.3
16
8.7
Diploma
8
11.1
17
29.3
13
24.5
38
20.8
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Type of University
Public
130
71.0
Private
53
29.0
183
100.0
Table 2 above shows the presence of stress among
the accounting students in three universities is
92.4% and out of this, 30% is classified as severe
stress. Detailed analysis showed that students in UC
are the most stressful students (96.2%) with 32% of
them experienced severe stress. This is followed by
UA (93.1%) and UB (87.9%).
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Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
Table 2: Levels of stress
University A
University B
University C
Total
Number
%
Number
%
Number
%
Number
%
Levels of stress
No stress
5
6.9
7
12.1
2
3.8
14
7.7
Mild
15
20.8
18
31.0
11
20.8
44
24.0
Moderate
30
41.7
17
29.3
23
43.4
70
38.3
Severe
22
30.6
16
27.6
17
32.0
55
30.0
72
100.0
58
100.0
53
100.0
183
100.0
Table 3 shows female students suffer more stress
(93.2%) than male students (90.0%). However, t-test
showed that there was no significant difference in the
score for male (M = 2.74, SD = 0.92) and female
students (M = 2.97, SD = 0.91); t (181) = -1.52) at p =
0.13. The prevalence of stress was highest among the
Malay students, followed by the Indian, Chinese and
other races with 94.7%, 88.5%, 87% and 50%,
respectively. Similar to the gender, there is no
significant differences among the races in term of the
rate of stress (F (3,179) = 1.485, p = 0.22).
Students with age 23 years old and below (94.4%)
highly in stress situation compared to student age
more than 23 years old (85.4%). There is no different
in term of year of study (F (2,180) = 0.119, p = 0.888)
although all of year two students (100%) experience
more stress compare to other students (Year 3 =
91.8%; Year 4 = 92.9%). Focusing on a financial
matter, the results indicate that all of the self-financing
students and almost all of the students received a
scholarship (98.6%) experienced stress. Only 87.5%
of the students that obtained loan having stress
problem. However, there is no significant difference
between self-financing, scholarship and loan students
(F (2,180) = 1.60, p = 0.205).
With regard to parent income, there is no
significant association between the level of income
and stress (F (4, 178) = 0.451, p = 0.771). Similarly
to university entrance (F (2,180) = 0.619) and type
of university (t (109.5) = -1.30), there are no
significant different for both of them, p = 0.539 and
p = 0.196, respectively. Specifically to type of
university, private university student experienced
higher stress (M = 3.04, SD = 0.83) compared to
student from public university (M = 2.85, SD =
0.95). Further analysis reveals that most of the
students from matriculation (93.8%) and STPM
(93.8%) experienced stress compared to students
from diploma (86.8%).
Table 3 further shows that the only significant
association found was the student’s CGPA which
was statistically significant difference at p<0.05
level for the four CGPA groups: F (3,179) = 2.878.
A Tukey post-hoc test reveals that the stress level
of students with CGPA 3.0 to 3.5 (M = 3.07, SD =
0.81) was statistically higher compared to students
with CGPA above 3.5 (M = 2.62, SD = 0.99).
There are no statistically significant differences
between the other CGPA groups.
Table 3: Association between Stress and Study Variables
Present
Absent
Mean
SD
No.
%
No.
%
Gender
Male
45
90.0
5
10.0
2.74
0.92
Female
124
93.2
9
6.8
2.97
0.91
Race
Malay
125
94.7
7
5.3
2.94
087
Chinese
20
87.0
3
13.0
2.65
0.98
Indian
23
88.5
3
11.5
3.04
1.04
Others
1
50.0
1
50.0
2.00
1.41
Age
≤23
134
94.4
8
5.6
2.95
0.87
24≤x≤30
35
85.4
6
14.6
2.76
1.04
Year of study
2nd year
2
100.0
0
0
3.00
0.00
3rd year
89
91.8
8
8.2
2.88
0.96
4th year
78
92.9
6
7.1
2.94
0.88
Current CGPA
<2.5
10
90.9
1
9.1
3.18
0.92
2.5≤x<3.0
43
89.6
5
10.4
2.79
0.97
3.0≤x≤3.5
82
96.5
3
3.5
3.07
0.81
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Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
>3.5
34
87.2
5
12.8
2.62
0.99
Type of financing
Sponsorship
68
98.6
1
1.4
3.01
0.79
Loan
91
87.5
13
12.5
2.81
0.99
Own financing
10
100.0
0
00
3.20
0.92
Parent income
<1k
20
95.2
1
4.8
2.95
0.87
1k≤x<3k
62
93.9
4
6.1
2.85
0.90
3k≤x<5k
57
93.4
4
6.6
3.02
0.90
5k≤x<10k
21
84.0
4
16.0
2.76
1.09
≥10k
9
90.0
1
10.0
2.90
0.88
University entrance
Matriculation
121
93.8
8
6.2
2.94
090
STPM
15
93.8
1
6.2
3.00
0.89
Diploma
33
86.8
5
13.2
2.76
1.00
Type of University
Public
118
90.8
12
9.2
2.85
0.95
Private
51
96.2
2
3.8
3.04
0.83
*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
With regard to possible reasons of stress, students
indicate beliefs that stress is most likely the result of
(1) complex subject’s assessment format, (2) academic
load per semester, (3) subject difficulty, (4) peer’s
performance as shown in Table 4.
Table 4: Source of Stress
Source of Stress
Mean
SD
Complex subject's assessment format
4.01
0.91
Academic load per semester
3.89
0.94
Subject difficulty
3.86
0.83
Peer's performance
3.22
1.05
Lecturer's characteristic: unreasonable assessment
2.98
1.18
Lecturer's characteristic: Non-interactive Teaching
2.91
1.10
Lecturer's characteristic: Unfriendly
2.72
1.10
Financial constraint
2.66
1.41
Scholarship/Loan provider's pressure
2.63
1.21
Family pressure
2.60
1.20
Peer relationship conflict
2.28
1.30
Family situation: broken family relationship
1.52
1.08
**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)
*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
Conclusion
This study reports a prevalence of stress among
Bachelor Accounting students from three
universities in Malaysia. According to this study,
92.4% of the students experience stress with 30% of
them experiencing severe stress. In term of gender,
there are no differences between male and female
students in terms of stress, with the latter suffer
slightly higher stress (93.2%) than the former
(90.0%). This could be due to male students are able
to easily adapt to university life compared to female
students (Clinciu, 2013).
This study also indicates that those students
studying at a private university ranked higher in
levels of stress when compared to students from
government funded universities. This might be due
to the financial burden that they have to bare as the
financial obligation during and post study period is
higher in private university as compared to public
university. The pressure to complete their study and
secure a workplace is higher especially when the
majority of them (84.9%) used loan to finance their
study. In addition to that, students with CGPA
between 3.0 and 3.5 experienced stress higher than
other CGPA groups. This could be understood as
most sponsorship agreements require students to
maintain a good grade to secure continuous
sponsorship.
98.6% of the students obtained sponsorship
experienced stress compared to those funded by loan
(87.5%). This indicates that being a fully sponsored
students is one of the factors that lead to stressful
situation. This could be explained by the stringent
rules imposed on students, such as the need to
maintain a certain level of CGPA result, which most
of the time higher than those who obtained a loan.
The students’ sponsorship may be terminated if they
fail to meet this requirement. Sponsorship is
normally awarded to the excellent students and it
comes not only with financial aid, which is fully
sponsor without any requirement to pay, but also the
15
STRESS AMONG ACCOUNTING STUDENTS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITIES
Journal of Business and Social Development Volume 7 (1) 2019 :9-19
job placement with the funder. Hence, it is normal
for the funder to set a higher requirement for the
sponsored students.
With regardto the sources of stress, out of 12
sources of stress tested, the top three concerns
directly relate to the academic matters such as
assessment format, academic load and subject
difficulty. The main aim of pursuing their study at
university is to ultimately become a graduate
student. It is therefore not surprising, and even
understandable, that the top three relates to
academic issues, which have been highlighted by
previous studies (e.g., Beiter et al., 2015; Guo,
2011; Koh et al., 2011). In addition to that, the
lecturer’s characteristics should also be a concernto
the university. This study highlights the issue
pertaining with lecturers such as unreasonable
assessment, on-interactive teaching and unfriendly
lecturer, which indirectly influence the performance
of the students. These study-related stressors have
been proven to affect academic performance (Pluut,
Curşeu, & Ilies, 2015). Lecturer’s characteristics,
which has not been studied previously, have been
proved that it could affect students learning
activities, consequently built the presence of stress
among the students. It is important for the
universities to properly address the issue of
students-lecturers relationship, so that, it would not
only improve the stress situation but also the
students’ performance.
This study reveals potential sources of stress
among the accounting students at bachelor level, as
well as the association between specific
demographic. The results of this study will be
beneficial to universities to take mitigation actions
to reduce stress level among the undergraduate
students. It is vital for universities to have proper
treatment and prevention programs to address stress
among the students. It is clear that issues pertaining
to the academic matters should be properly
addressed as it is the most prevalent issues among
other sources. In addition to that, it may also be
beneficial for universities to promote an awareness
campaign about stress. As the results show that
92.4% of the students indicate the presence of stress,
it is important for the universities to continuously
monitor the stress level of the students, especially
when the previous studies proved that stress was
associated with health and mental problems
(Regehr, Glancy, & Pitts, 2013).
The students at higher learning institutions
especially in accounting program should develop
active methods of to coping with stress and seek
social, emotional and instrumental support including
a support from family members. Support from
family members is very crucial for the students to
ease their stress pertaining to the academic matters.
The students need to properly deal with academic
matters as it is not only affect their academic
performance but also stress level. Thus, it is hope
that this study will assist the students to identify
what are the main factors of stressor and adopt a
suitable coping strategy.
Some limitations of the study need to be
acknowledged. First, the sample consists of a
specific subject group, which is a Bachelor of
Accounting from three universities and is likely to
differ from other groups of students in terms of
well-being. Therefore, the results of this study may
not be generalised to the students in other groups.
Second, this study only relied on self-reported
questionnaires. The respondents may not reveal their
true experience of stress. Despite these limitations,
the study improves our understanding of the current
situation related to stress among the accounting
students at universities in Malaysia.
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