Noraini: Student welfare a priority

Looking ahead: Noraini delivering her new year address to ministerial staff in Putrajaya.

THE Higher Education Ministry (MoHE) will be prioritising student welfare and the digitisation of learning in 2022 as the sector continues to recuperate from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Topmost on its newly-launched Higher Education Welfare Blueprint, known as Sejahtera IPT, is creating a safe campus ecosystem.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said the ministry will continue to enhance campuses under its purview to ensure they are safe and conducive learning spaces, both in terms of health and being disabled-friendly.

She said higher education institutions (HEIs) need to provide proper facilities and infrastructure for the disabled, and policies and services related to mental health need to be given serious attention and strengthened.

“Aspects of risk management such as risk communication and crisis communication need to be addressed by the HEIs as best they can,” she said when delivering her new year address to ministerial staff on Jan 17.

Creating a safe campus ecosystem is one of seven strategies listed in Sejahtera IPT.

As part of another strategy to stimulate the #KPTPrihatin spirit, Noraini wants to form a programme similar to the United States’ “First in Family” programme to attract B40 students to enrol in higher education.

Calling it “Program Pembangunan Siswa Sulung Keluarga Malaysia (Sulung)”, she said the programme will provide an opportunity for the first generation of B40 families who do not yet have a family member pursuing higher education.

“We will help in terms of admission, financial aid and securing a job when they graduate.

“The hope is that they can change the fate of their households and act as a motivator to other family members,” she added.

Another strategy, she said, is to continue pushing the digitisation agenda which began last year.

This includes the Higher Education Digitisation Plan, which is expected to be launched before the middle of this year.

The ministry is also working on a national digital learning platform to provide opportunities for more individuals to access lifelong learning, she added.

She also said programmes such as the MoHE Innovative Digital Educators, the MoHE MicroCredential Based Learning, the MoHE Immersive Learning Spaces and Hyflex Learning must be implemented.

“We have developed a lot of systems which were not integrated.

“A study is being conducted by consultants from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Hopefully, the findings will be translated into policy and implemented,” she said, adding that the implementation of the digitisation agenda is estimated to cost about RM4.4bil.

Calling for a special committee chaired by the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Abdul Razak Jaafar to be formed to monitor the implementation of all digitisation agendas, she said there should be more focus on the entrepreneurial development of female graduates as part of the strategy to enhance graduate marketability.

“I also want HEIs to offer more transdisciplinary programmes such as (merging the) creative industry with digital entrepreneurship to produce ‘creativepreneurs’.”She said other strategies that are part of Sejahtera IPT are strengthening strategic collaboration networks, driving community well-being and realising institutional excellence.

“The post-Covid-19 world of higher education will operate in a different environment.

“We need to find more creative and innovative solutions in facing the challenges ahead,” she said.

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