Start date for second semester in higher education institutions under review due to high Covid-19 cases, says Noraini

PETALING JAYA: The Higher Education Ministry will review the start date for the second semester of the current academic year for public higher education institutions (IPTA) in light of the high number of Covid-19 cases.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said she has received feedback from tertiary students, especially their frustration with the current situation of over some 4,000 new cases daily.

Following an online discussion with members of the National Student Representative Council (MPPK) on Sunday (Jan 24), she said the ministry would consider changing the start date for Semester 2 of the 2020/2021 academic year, which was scheduled to begin in March.

Noraini said MPPK had presented the results of their survey on the feasibility of the proposed readmission of students to the institutions.

“All the proposals will be considered by the ministry’s top management, taking into account the short-term and long-term effects in the interest of the country and the students, ” she said in a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 25).

Noraini said any decision would be announced at least a month in advance, so that students could make appropriate arrangements.

On the same Facebook post, students nationwide welcomed the announcement.

“I believe the ministry's will decide based on the safety and health of all students, ” said one user Lee Chia Loke.

Facebook user Zul Faizuddin congratulated the minister for taking into account the views of all stakeholders.

Other users expressed their concerns while presenting some alternative suggestions.

Another user Grace Stimol suggested the ministry to give more than just a month’s notice so that those who have to undergo quarantine will have enough time to prepare.

Mimie Mokhtar said the ministry should also consider the location of the IPTA when deciding on the start date.

For example, she said Universiti Malaya has students living in areas with high Covid-19 cases such as Kerinchi and Pantai Dalam.

There were mixed reactions when the ministry announced that campuses would reopen in stages last July after the first movement control order.

Some welcomed the decision which saw students being able to make use of the facilities on campus to resume their studies, while others questioned whether it was safe to be back in the IPTA.

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