Lifting the Veil: Muslim women's adjustment to a New Zealand university
Bahiss, Z. (2008). Lifting the Veil: Muslim women’s adjustment to a New Zealand university (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2493
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2493
AbstractDue to a decline in the number of domestic students in many New Zealand andother foreign Western countries' universities, there is more recruitment ofinternational students. In New Zealand universities, beside the increase in thenumber of other foreign international students, the number of Musliminternational students and especially Muslim women students has increased in thepast few years. This is due to internationalisation of New Zealand education andthe economic benefits which international students provide to New Zealandeconomy.The reason for undertaking this study is because as a Muslim women and astudent myself, I wanted to investigate the adjustment problems of the increasednumber of Muslim women international students at the University of Waikato.This is because, it would provide information to researchers, theoreticians andpolicy developers regarding adjustment issues that might be specific to Muslimwomen. Unfortunately, this area is under researched; hence this study could assistin filling the vacuum in this area.The literature so far has discussed the adjustment issues of international studentsin general and from the literature there seems to be two main dominant areaswhere international students suffer adjustment problems. These two areas are theacademic environment of the university and the socio-cultural environment of theuniversity. The academic environment has many elements to which manyinternational students are believed to face adjustment problems such as adjustingto the 'study shock'. On the other hand, in the socio-cultural environment,students are believed to face adjustment problem to the culture shock. However,there are many flaws in the existing literature which results in its weakness andhence the need for this study.In order to discuss the adjustment issues of Muslim women international students'one has to examine the educational background of these students. It is importantto also examine the religious and cultural backgrounds of these students becausereligious beliefs and practices combined with their cultural background have animpact on their adjustment into the foreign academic and socio-culturaliiienvironment. Islam strongly encourages the acquisition of education for women.Looking at the history of Muslim women, one can find great scholars whoachieved enormously from their right to education. However today there is greattension in the Islamic world regarding women's education which makes this issuevery complex. This is due to the different interpretations of the Islamic scholars ofthe verses of the Quran, and Muslim people cultural and tribal codes. Therefore,many Islamic countries have taken different approaches to the education of theirfemale population that is from very conservative to liberal ones.The qualitative approach used in this chapter helped in understanding theperspectives and world views of the respondents which would have not beenpossible otherwise.The confidentiality and anonymity of the respondents was catered for beforeconducting the interviews and pseudo names are used in this study to refer to therespondents of this study. This study is however limited in that the time constraindid not allow me to do a longitudinal study in order to discover the many unanswered questions or ambiguous sentences.This study has revealed four major themes which were identified through thisresearch as being specifically important to the adjustment of Muslim womeninternational students. These women did not view their adjustment as a huge shiftinstead for them it required more of gentle shift in their adjustment. Thesimilarities in the academic environment of the international students and that ofNew Zealand universities made the adjustment to the academic environment evensmoother. There are also other positive adjustments these international studentsmake while in New Zealand universities. They are more independent and are ableto communicate in English language which for most international students seemsto be main reason for coming to Western universities.There is need for the staff and students to understand the religious and culturalbeliefs of these international students so that they can help them in the adjustmentprocess. There is also increased need for the universities and policy developers toprovide help and support for the international students.ivThere are many issues that seemed to need further exploration which this studyhas not managed to find out. The research needs to be done to discuss the hugeemotional or psychological impact on the international students' due to teachers'and local students' lack of knowledge of their religious and cultural beliefs.The researchers also need to investigate how this change in the personality andthinking of women impacts on them when they go back to their home countries.In theorisation, there is need to theorise the adjustments of students who belong toother religious and cultural groups and how it might impact their adjustmentprocess.For the practitioners, there is need to investigate the role of the staff and institutesto clearly identify to the role of staff in how they could make internationalstudents transaction to the university smoother.
The University of Waikato
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