Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Arts


In recent years, highly skilled migrants have represented an important component of global migration streams. This research is a comparative study of the migration of academic professionals from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to Australia, a 'nation of immigrants' which receives many highly trained professionals from different parts of the world, especially Asia. The main goal was to analyse the effects of in-system and out-system factors on the emigration process, as well as the effects of facilitating conditions, all as perceived by the academic migrants themselves. An intersystem model of intemational migration was developed, based on Robert K. Merton's theory of 'social structure and anomie'. This comprises the central part of an inclusive analytical model of the emigration decision, which draws on a range of theoretical influences and has descriptive, explanatory and functional dimensions.

Quantitative survey methodology was used to measure the impressions that the three populations of academic migrants had of the various subsystems of both sending and receiving societies, and of other relevant factors and conditions. A questionnaire was developed and disttibuted to academic staff members from the three Northeast Asian countries at seventeen Australian universities, resulting in 177 responses.

The survey results vindicated the multifaceted analytical model employed, providing an understanding of academic migration as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Given the historical and cultural similarities among the source countties, it is apparent that most of the factors studied influenced all three groups to some degree, but the balance differed notably from one to another, according to the type of society.

Thus the migration to Austtalia of academics from the People's Republic of China was affected mainly by economic and political factors. In the emigration of academic professionals from Hong Kong, political factors played a more significant role than others, while in the case of Taiwan the survey respondents gave priority to environmental and some educational considerations. The results also show that the effects of 'pull' factors were viewed as more important than those of 'push' factors in the migration process. However, respondents rated most subsystems of Australian society less highly on the basis of their experiences after migration than their recalled expectations suggested.

The thesis fmishes with a few general policy recommendations. These are directed at governments, policy makers and socio-economic planners in both migrant-sending and migrant-receiving systems.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.