PETALING JAYA: Students residing in hostels, dormitories and rented properties are not allowed to leave the premises to return to their hometown or homeland during the duration of the National Security Council’s (NSC) movement control order (MCO), says the Higher Education Ministry.
The ministry’s latest directive comes hot on the heels of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s appeal to Malaysians to stay at home to "protect yourself and your family."
In a special address on Wednesday (March 18) night, Muhyiddin said the reason the government imposed the MCO was to stop people from moving around amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ministry’s guidelines, in the form of a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) issued to all institutions Wednesday night (March 18), stated: “All local and foreign students of public and private institutions who are still in campus (dorms, hostels, college residence, rented house or other personal residences) must remain in the premises, even if tickets to return home have been bought.”
According to the guidelines sighted by The Star, students must continue to report to their institution’s management and would be subject to the MCO which is in force at all times even within campus grounds.
It reiterated that all institutions were responsible for students’ safety and welfare throughout their stay in campus facilities.
The ministry maintained its stance on the suspension of e-learning.
It said it took into consideration students’ access to the Internet when they returned to their respective hometowns which led to its decision to suspend all teaching and learning activities, including online learning, tests, student development activities and research.
“Public and private institutions that have not been using e-learning on a regular basis are not allowed to implement e-learning. This is to ensure students do not miss out if they can’t or have difficulties accessing the internet.
“We (ministry) are aware of the level of readiness of public and private higher-learning institutions in terms of infrastructure and lecturers’ capacity of implementing e-learning, ” the guidelines stated.
However, the ministry also said it was aware that some private universities offered courses that were fully conducted online.
“Public and private institutions that have been conducting lessons fully online are allowed to implement e-learning during this two weeks (March 18 to 31), only if the institution can guarantee that every student has access to the internet and that lecturers are ready and fully equipped (with infrastructure).”
Addressing polytechnic and community colleges, the guidelines stated that they are also required to be shut down till the end of the MOC.
“Students (of polytechnic and community college) are required to stay put in dorms. Internships and work-based learning programmes during this time weeks will be postponed.
“However, there are exceptions for those in essential services industries. Institutions may consider giving students leave, with the agreement of the industry partner," it said.
Final exams and assessments for polytechnic and community college students of the Dec 2019 session will be postponed, the guidelines added.
“The Polytechnic final assessment has been changed from April 6 to April 23, while the final exam has changed from April 13 to May 3.
“The Community College final assessment has been amended from March 23 to April 11. The final exam, April 6 to April 17.”
Institutions do not have to replace “missed classes” and programmes, said the ministry, adding that all operations in public and private higher-learning institutions will be fully shut down till MCO ends.
"Only essential services such as water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, broadcasting, banking, health, pharmacy, safety, cleaning, retail and food supply, are allowed to continue operations.
“Dining in cafeterias will not be an option. Cafeterias can carry on their operations only through food delivery and takeaway services, ” the guidelines stated.
Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh, meanwhile, said he has confirmed with the ministry that foreign students will be able to leave the country.
He said the NSC’s MCO guidelines advised foreign students to return to their home country, while those who choose to remain at their university residence are to report to the education institute’s management.
“The original ruling by the NSC issued on March 18 has not been superseded and cannot be superseded by any other agency apart from the highest authority which is NSC.
“Unless a foreign national has committed a crime here, you cannot stop him from returning to his home country.
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