Perceptions of mainland Chinese university students of studying in Singapore
thesisposted on 06.06.2007, 12:23 by Ong Soon Jason Leong
This thesis investigates why Mainland Chinese university students choose to study in Singapore, and how they manage the experience. The study was guided by two research questions: (1) Why do university students from Mainland China choose to study in Singapore? (as opposed to elsewhere) and (2) How do Mainland Chinese university students manage the experience of studying in Singapore, a different cultural environment? The aim of the study and the research questions made an interpretivist paradigm with qualitative research methods most appropriate. The study also adopted a symbolic interactionist perspective, realising that people make sense of their lives and experiences through interaction with others around them. Grounded theory methods of data collection and analysis were used. Participants were 20 Mainland Chinese university students studying in the two main universities in Singapore, namely, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), including its affiliate, the National Institute of Education (NIE). Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and documents (diary entries) lasting 16 months. The grounded theory that emerged, called the theory of ‘selective pragmatism’, comprises a threefold typology of students and four categories, with the second category presented in two parts. The typology of participants conceptualises and labels the three groups as “the intellectuals”, “the opportunists” and “the loyalists”. The four categories are respectively: (1) Push Factors; (2a) Pull Factors (Other countries outside Mainland China, but excluding Singapore); (2b) Pull Factors (Singapore only); (3) Individual Resilience and (4) Future Intentions. The study shows how participants exercise choices and decisions in a pragmatic but selectively different way in responding to the two research questions. Three distinctively different patterns of responses emerge to form the basis of the threefold typology.