THE largest vaccination campaign in world history has begun in earnest. Close to 500 million Covid-19 shots have been administered since last December in 133 countries, according to Bloomberg's global tracker.
Though the worldwide average of 11 million vaccinations a day now is still deemed slow, healthcare experts expect the rate to grow exponentially as logistics improve and more vaccines, especially those that factor in new Covid-19 strains, pass the gauntlet of clinical trials.
This matters most for the younger generation, who are eager to commence their overseas study experience.
Seeing the need for youth to receive an international class of education, even while international travel remains heavily restricted, an Australian public university ranked in the Top 1% globally has harnessed its worldwide network of campuses to cater to the new normal - The University of Wollongong (UOW).
It is named after its home city, which locals affectionately call "The Gong". This is the third largest city in New South Wales, after Sydney (just an hour's drive away) and Newcastle. Wollongong is home to about 37,000 UOW students.
A major appeal of UOW among international students is the privilege of being immersed in Australian culture while obtaining top-notch education in a public university, without the higher cost of living associated with Australia's larger cities.
Observing the eagerness of students to pursue their international study experience at the earliest opportunity, UOW is using its global network of campuses in Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia to enable students to commence their university level studies within these international campuses before seamlessly proceeding to earn a bachelor degree of a top 200 globally ranked Australian public university.
Studying in Australia has taken on a special attraction because of how the country has managed the pandemic.
Since January, Australia has experienced a low incidence of Covid-19, usually recording new daily cases in the single digits.
"With vaccination efforts in Malaysia stepping up, we expect both countries to be able to establish travel arrangements for Malaysian students to head to Australia soon. In the meantime students can commence their studies at UOW Malaysia KDU and then transfer seamlessly to UOW Australia when it is safe to do so,” said deputy vice-chancellor (engagement) Associate Professor Dr Brian Imrie.
He said UOW Malaysia KDU provides a number of pathways for Malaysian students to be ready for borders to reopen.
School leavers who join UOW Malaysia KDU for their Foundation studies will receive a conditional offer, guaranteeing them of placement in UOW Australia. "They are guaranteed a spot in UOW Australia when they meet very achievable minimum CGPA requirements upon completion of their Foundation year here," explained Assoc Prof Imrie.
The same honour is accorded to UOW Malaysia KDU students who pick the diploma pathway; they too gain a conditional acceptance of a place at UOW Australia. In both cases, they will be granted a minimum 25% tuition fee waiver or a 30% Merit scholarship for their UOW bachelor programme - making an international study experience more accessible.
Should travel restrictions remain too stringent after students complete their Foundation or Diploma, another pathway helps them stay on course.
"Our UOW Dual Award Programmes ensure that not only will they be able to continue uninterrupted their overseas education as the pandemic comes to an end, but also be recognised for their efforts with an additional degree certificate," said Assoc Prof Imrie.
Graduates will be armed with a degree certificate from UOW Malaysia KDU and another from UOW Australia.
Under this programme, students spend the first one and a half years of their Business Management or Computer Science/Software Engineering bachelor programme in UOW Malaysia KDU and thereafter head to Wollongong for their remaining one and a half years of study.
"As UOW Malaysia KDU is part of the University of Wollongong Australia Global Network, the quality of the syllabus at UOW Malaysia KDU is tightly monitored by UOW Australia to ensure a seamless transition," Assoc Prof Imrie assured.
"We operate in the belief that sooner rather than later, humanity will overcome this pandemic, just as we have done with all the others in history."
“Despite the obstacles, we are confident that Malaysia is on track to tackle the spread of infections and it is time for students to take the first steps in pursuing their international study dreams," Assoc Prof Imrie added.
*To speak with UOW Malaysia KDU 's education counsellors on the degree courses in the Dual Award Programme, call 03-5565 0538 (Glenmarie, Shah Alam) or 04-238 6368 (Penang).