University support, adjustment, and mental health in tertiary education students in Hong Kong

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Depression, anxiety, and stress of moderate to severe levels were found in 21, 41, and 27% of university students in Hong Kong, respectively. The development of a screening tool for assessing adjustment difficulties among tertiary education students is helpful for counseling professionals in university. The Student Perception of University Support and Structure (SPUSS) scale, based on concepts articulated in Baumrind’s theory of parenting styles, is to measure how supportive and structured the college environment is. The present study used exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to examine whether the SPUSS’ structure is consistent with the typology of four parenting styles. Secondly, factor scores were used to test the hypothesis that a supportive and structured university environment would be associated with students’ psychological adjustment as indicated by measures of depression, anxiety, and stress. Participants were 773 tertiary education students aged 18–25 from three Hong Kong universities. The SPUSS shows a four-factor structure consistent with models of parenting styles; the factor scores have excellent psychometric properties; and the factors represent students’ views of the university environment as authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful. This model is different from Yau’s three-factor data-driven model, which identified factors representing psychological, academic, and social adjustment. (2) This study provides evidence of validity in that higher scores on the authoritative factor were related to the lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Copyright © 2016 Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
JournalAsia Pacific Education Review
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


Hong Kong
mental health
parenting style
social adjustment
psychological factors
research facility
factor analysis


Leung, C. H. (2017). University support, adjustment, and mental health in tertiary education students in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Education Review, 18(1), 115-122.


  • Higher education
  • Educational environment
  • Psychometrics