Jitters over trip back to UK

PETALING JAYA: While universities in the United Kingdom are said to be preparing to roll out the welcome mat for international students come September, many Malaysians are still cautious about making the trip there.

Wan Mohd Haffiz Wan Hussin, 34, who will graduate from the University of Manchester with a master’s degree in corrosion control engineering in September, is adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“I will consider attending if there is a physical graduation event at my university but it’s subject to my work schedule and most importantly, the Covid-19 situation at that time.

“The university still hasn’t decided when and how to hold the graduation ceremony for students of the 2019/2020 academic year.“The July graduation event will be conducted virtually, ” said Wan Mohd Haffiz, who is under home quarantine until July 23 after his recent return to Malaysia.

“We are still monitoring the Covid-19 trend in the UK and the numbers are slowing down but we don’t know if the cases will go up again, ” he said.Siew Viann, 24, who will be

graduating from the University of Edinburgh with a master’s degree in economics in November, will not be going back even if there is a physical graduation ceremony.

“There hasn’t been news about a physical graduation event; it’s likely they’ll move it online or postpone it to next year, ” said Siew, who came back to Malaysia two weeks ago.

Most of her Malaysian peers, she added, had returned home and were not planning to travel to the UK.

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Elizabeth Lee said they had put their study programmes to the Lancaster University, London School of Economics and Political Science as well as University of California Berkeley in the United States on hold.

“This was because of the movement control order, closure of borders and quarantine requirements, not to mention the associated Covid-19 risks in the other countries.

“Malaysia has demonstrated that we have controlled the spread and mitigated the risks well.

“It definitely shows it’s safer in Malaysia, ” she said when contacted.

On June 19, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that there were 137 universities in the UK, and 89 out of 92 that replied to a Universities UK survey said that they would provide some in-person teaching starting September.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also planning to have all schools such as nurseries, primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges, reopen in September.

Meanwhile, there are Malaysian students who are preparing to go to the UK for the new term in September.Gan Pei Ling, 33, who is heading to the University of Cambridge on the coveted Tunku Abdul Rahman Centenary Fund full scholarship, said she was not unduly worried about the situation as she would continue to practise social distancing and use face masks and hand sanitisers.

“It seems Cambridge students still have to go through matriculation, a tradition to present ourselves in college and take a group photo dressed in black gowns.

“Mass lectures will be online but we are informed that small group teaching, seminars and tutorials will be in-person, ” said Gan, who will be pursuing her Master of Philosophy in anthropocene studies.

Asked if she faced any difficulties in preparing for her academic journey, Gan said she managed to apply for college accommodation and that her college had been very supportive and responsive.

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