‘Disarray was avoidable’


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 06 Oct 2020

Smoking germs out: Workers disinfecting the premises of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin Gong Badak after one of its staff tested positive for Covid-19. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: The late announcement ordering higher education institutions (HEIs) to carry out online registration and teaching and learning activities, will impact the enrolment plan of these institutions, affecting both students and the financial sustainability of the entities, said National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Elajsolan Mohan.

The Higher Education Ministry (MoHE) must plan and strategise announcements in a better and more effective manner, he said, adding that the late announcement also brought much hardship to students and parents.

“Students in some public HEIs on the other hand were sent back after the announcement was made.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not easy for them to find private accommodation, ” he added.

On Friday, the day HEIs were supposed to reopen fully, the MoHE announced that as more Covid-19 cases had been recorded, HEIs must carry out online registration for the new semester.

It said all teaching and learning activities should also move to online platforms to keep staff and students safe.

“MoHE recommends all HEIs postpone their physical registration of new and old students at the campus, ” it said in a statement.

While safety is of utmost importance and varsities have no problem in complying with online registration and lessons, Elajsolan said the ministry could have employed better planning in their announcement.

“This is so those who travelled from outstation would have had enough time to plan their journey instead of getting stranded.”

Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said in light of the recent spike in cases, it is understandable to move registration online.

“It would involve the mass movement of around half a million students from all over the country to their campuses.

“The fact that some students have already been tested positive at some public universities validates this decision and the sudden spike in infections could not have been predicted, ” he said.

Parmjit said an immediate decision to avert widespread infections is justified in the interest of the safety of students.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Selangor will channel aid via the “Bantuan Prihatin Mahasiswa Darul Ehsan” programme to affected students.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said the government was gathering information from these students to provide assistance such as transportation back to their hometowns, food as well as face masks and hand sanitisers.

He said the assistance would focus on three categories of students – students from Selangor studying in Selangor, students from other states studying in Selangor and Selangor students studying in other states.

“Students who need this assistance can refer to the ‘TS Care Kit Distribution’ form at http://bit.ly/mdekatA, Selangor Campus Students Food Assistance Form at http://bit.ly/mdekatB, and Selangor Natives Transportation Assistance form at http://bit.ly/mdekatC, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Separately, Elajsolan said it’s also unfair to stop the entry of foreign students into the country without giving sufficient notice.

On Oct 4, Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said foreign students planning to study in Malaysia will have to postpone their travels until Dec 31.

The interim restriction would also affect foreign students who had already received approval from the department to come to Malaysia.

Elajsolan said there are strict standard operating procedures in place which IPTS have been adhering to.

“Some were on their way here and some had already arrived at KLIA.

“This sudden announcement will give Malaysia a bad image, subsequently affecting our status as an educational hub and our economy.”

Describing it as a surprise, Parmjit said existing and new international students had been approved to enter the country based on Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s earlier statements.

It has created confusion and disappointment among students, he said, adding that public HEI staff were overwhelmed with calls from parents.

“The impact on public HEIs is likely to be catastrophic.

“The majority of new international students in the second half of the year had decided to enrol with private HEIs and start their studies online.

“This latest announcement has thrown their plans in disarray, and private HEIs are likely to face unprecedented withdrawal and deferment rates, ” he said, urging a review of the decision.

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