OVER 15,500 Malaysians studied in the UK last year, making it one of the most popular study destinations for the country’s students.
As thousands of students from Malaysia would usually be considering their next steps, a global pandemic has caused huge disruption to our daily lives.
We stand by you and are doing everything we can to support you. Our universities are going above and beyond to keep students and staff safe.
Universities are considering how teaching could meet social distancing guidelines and have already moved learning online so that high-quality teaching and assessment can continue in the interim, no matter where the students are – here in the UK or in their home country.
I know prospective students who had hoped to start a course in the UK next year will have many questions but ensuring international students can continue to study here is one of my top priorities.
While it is difficult to know how long the current disruption will last, I want to be clear that the UK is open and will offer a world class education wherever you study and in whatever form that degree takes.
The UK has a global reputation for academic excellence and innovative teaching, with four universities in the world’s top 10. The coronavirus does not change this.
I encourage future students to get in touch with the universities they are considering; to find out how they are planning to adapt courses for the next academic year, should restrictions still be in place.
That might mean some first term lectures being delivered online or smaller socially distanced tutorials, but students can be rest assured that quality education will continue and standards remain of the highest quality.
While visa centres are currently closed, the UK Government has announced important flexibilities so that no student is negatively impacted due to the coronavirus. This includes relaxed rules for sponsors and different ways that universities are judging English language requirements.
A new, streamlined immigration route for graduates – the “Graduate route” – will be available from summer 2021, meaning students starting this year will be able to stay and work, or look for work in the UK, at any skill level for two years. This will give students certainty and the opportunity to kickstart a career and consider their next steps freely.
If the coronavirus has taught us one thing, it is that we are stronger when we work together.
The UK Government and higher education sector are clear that both current and prospective Malaysian students are welcome and safe here, both on and off campus. Our National Health Service has taken care of people from around the world and we will continue to ensure international students’ physical and mental health are well looked after.
I want all students to know we are going through this together. Nobody should have to put their future on hold because of this virus.
Our priority will always be people’s safety and wellbeing and we take our responsibilities to international students seriously.
I look forward to welcoming international students in the future because you are a large part of what makes our higher education sector world-class.
MICHELLE DONELAN ,Minister of State for Universities United Kingdom