Itinerant migrants : a case study of the characteristics and adjustment of Malaysian students in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Geography at Massey University
The world today is witnessing a rapid breakdown of cultural barriers as more people migrate, either temporarily or permanently, from one society to another. The study of this phenomenon is of special interest to social scientists. For geographers the study of the process of migration and immigrant communities has long been a major branch of inquiry. Relatively little however, has been done on temporary forms of migration. This thesis is concerned with one group of itinerant migrants in New Zealand - Malaysian university students. An attempt was made to examine the characteristics of the selection process, the cultural, sociological and personal background of the student migrants, and their distribution and other characteristics in New Zealand. These characteristics were compared with those of other groups of migrants, foreign students, local students and people in the society of origin and the society of study. The study also examined the adjustment of the students in New Zealand and the relationship between the characteristics of the students and their adjustment. The main tool of investigation was a postal questionnaire developed specially for this study. It was supplemented by personal observations and experience as an overseas student in New Zealand. The questionnaire was administered to a random sample comprising 30 percent of the total Malaysian student population in New Zealand universities in 1973. Out of 415 questionnaires posted, 285 were returned. Four were not completed and one rejected, leaving 280 respondents in the final analysis. A number of hypotheses were made on the characteristics and the relationship between the characteristics and the adjustment of the students, based on personal observations, migration studies and previous researches on overseas students, in New Zealand and overseas. The hypotheses on the characteristics include an expectation of the predominance of young, male and single student migrants who are privately financed and come from urban areas and middle socio-economic class backgrounds. The results indicated that the characteristics were as predicted and were therefore similar to other migrants in general though there were several differences which were expected due to the very specific nature of the migration, viz. for educational purposes. Prodictions on the relationship between the characteristics and adjustment cover characteristics such as religious background, rural-urban origin and socio-economic class. It was predicted that those with backgrounds closest to the New Zealand norm are best adjusted, for example on religion Christians were expected to be best adjusted, followed by those with no religion and non-Christians being least adjusted. For situational characteristics such as type of accommodation, duration of stay ana friendship with New Zealanders it was predicted that the more exposed the students were to the New Zealand society the better would be the adjustment made. Most of the predictions emerged as expected. The study is exploratory and the findings tentative. It is only one approach to a complex research area. Its significance if any, lies in its illustration of the potential of research in this field.