Varsity students weighing the pros and cons of hybrid system

PETALING JAYA: University students are torn between hybrid and campus classes, citing the travel cost, accommodation and lack of facilities as their main concerns.

Hifzhan Hafiy Mohd Shaffik, 22, who is from Sarawak, said the proposal for a hybrid and flexible learning system would greatly benefit students like him, allowing him to save money, especially on logistics.

He said with such an arrangement, students from Sabah and Sarawak would only need to be on campus during their first and final years, making it cheaper for them.

“As a Sarawakian, many of my peers face similar issues. It’s too expensive for us to stay on campus and worse, for those who have to rent off-campus.

“When we stay on campus during semester breaks, we still have to pay accommodation fees to the residential colleges but if we want to return to our hometowns, we need to fork out more cash for flight tickets,” said Hifzhan, who is currently studying at Universiti Malaya.

Hifzhan said, however, that with online arrangements limiting more engaging interactions, students would have fewer opportunities to sharpen their interpersonal skills.

“To address this issue, I think students need to take their own initiative by participating more during hybrid classes because that would be their only avenue to interact with fellow students and lecturers.

“They can also be more active in engaging with society through off-campus activities,” he said.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled said varsity students could choose to attend classes on campus only for their first and final years under a hybrid learning system starting this academic year.

Nur Amni Nabihah Mohd Anuar, 22, from Kelantan, agreed, saying that students must be more proactive during online classes so that they could sharpen their skills.

“The move can reduce our financial burden. Currently, we need to pay tuition fees in full, despite some students having to go for off-campus internships in their final year.

“The government can consider cutting down costs as (with the arrangement), students would not be using on-campus facilities,” said Nur Amni, who is doing her degree in linguistics.

For Sabahan Scholastica Phillip, 23, the proposal is a double-edged sword for those whose hometowns are located in areas with poor Internet connectivity.

“At one glance, it does sound like a good idea because students can save up on costs but on the other hand, some would experience difficulties in terms of Internet infrastructure. At where I am, the Internet connection can be so bad and could affect my studies.

“I think by attending classes physically, I would be able to use the facilities provided by the university without worries,” said Phillip, who is from Papar, a district about 50km southwest of Kota Kinabalu.

She urged the government to run a survey among prospective university students before implementing the proposal, adding that it was important for their opinions to be considered.

History student R. Kannamah, 22, from Kuala Lumpur, argued that physical classes would be better, pointing out that online learning makes the study experience less engaging, resulting in poor performance.

“If the government still wants to go on with the hybrid learning system, maybe (it’s) only for certain subjects. Students tend to be less passionate about online learning, affecting their social skills and in the end, having an impact on their employability,” she said.

Accounting student S. Jiveethah, 21, also prefers to stick with the status quo, saying that this would make it easier for students to adapt to the work environment later.

“The quality of graduates may be affected as online courses may cause them to have difficulties acquiring good communication skills.

“But I do believe that students need to take their own initiative if such a hybrid arrangement is implemented,” said Jiveethah.

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