HEIs reopening by October

Latest update: Noraini speaking during a press conference at Perdana Putra. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: With higher education institutions (HEIs) fully reopening in October, the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) has given the assurance that all health and safety precautions will continue to be strictly enforced.

Mapcu president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said at any given time, 30% of the total student population can be present on campus from now until full reopening, following Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad’s announcement yesterday that HEIs will fully reopen in October.

“This means that we can have two sessions in a day, with 30% of students attending in the morning, and another 30% attending in the afternoon.

“This was our request to the Higher Education Ministry and we are very grateful that it has been granted,” he said, adding that the country’s HEIs have adopted a cautious and vigilant approach to bring students back.

“Even if we are allowed to bring all our students back now, we would not do it because we want to make sure there is social distancing.

“There can be no compromise when it comes to the health of our students and staff,” he said.

Students given priority to return to public universities fall under one of these categories: they need clinical or practical training, access to facilities available only on campus, sitting for professional examinations, without access to the Internet or a conducive learning environment, or are international students.

For private campuses, 30% of students have been allowed back.

Noraini said all HEIs will be given the flexibility to determine the most suitable modes – including online learning – for their respective programmes.

“HEIs and students have three months to prepare for the full reopening.

“We are addressing accommodation and flight ticketing issues for the return of the students,” she said, adding that enquiries could be made with the student affairs department of their respective HEIs.She said all returning students must continue practising social distancing, uphold personal hygiene, and follow the standard operating procedure.

Student activities can be conducted but these must be limited to 250 participants, subject to the size of the space.

All international students must register with Education Malaysia Global Services before they are allowed to enter the country.

They must undergo a polymerase chain reaction test or antibody rapid test in their home country three days prior to their entry into Malaysia.

“They must also undergo a health screening by the Health Ministry, and undergo 14 days of quarantine at locations determined by their respective HEIs,” she said, adding that some 11,000 foreign students – the majority of whom are from Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia – have applied to return to Malaysia.

There are also over 9,000 new international student applications for entry in January and February next year.

“If their health status is suspect, we will conduct further screenings,” she said in a statement.

Parmjit welcomed the announcement that new and existing foreign students will be allowed on campus again.

He noted that there has been zero Covid-19 clusters at the private higher education institutions since the pandemic began.

“We will be responsible and make sure that there are no imported cases on our campuses,” he said.

“If need be, returning students will be quarantined and all the necessary health checks conducted.”

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