Minister says Malaysian varsities to fully reopen by Oct, international students can return subject to Covid-19 tests

Datuk Noraini Ahmad said the government has agreed that universities can fully reopen in October. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Noraini Ahmad said the government has agreed that universities can fully reopen in October. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The government has agreed that universities can fully reopen in October, Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad announced today as Malaysia seeks to move forward from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Cabinet also agreed that the full student intake will be in October 2020,” she said in a statement today.

She also said international university students will be allowed to enter Malaysia, subject to several conditions including undergoing a test for Covid-19 three days before coming here.

She added that existing international students as well as the next batch are one of four categories of students who will be gradually allowed back in campuses, starting this month.

Noraini said the Cabinet today agreed to allow four more categories of students to return to campus, including Malaysian students at private higher education institutions amounting to 30 per cent as applied by the Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities.

The other categories include public university students from year one to year four in fields of studies that require clinical training, practical training, workshop, laboratory, studio or specific equipment and those that have to sit for professional body examinations; and public university students from year one to year four that have no internet access or lack conducive environment such as narrow space or uncomfortable circumstances to carry out online learning.

The last category allowed are international students for both public universities and private higher education institutions, including new students, she said.

The government previously allowed five categories of students back in campus from May.

“For international students, they have to register with the Education Malaysia Global Services before being permitted by the Immigration Department of Malaysia to enter Malaysia. They also have to undergo PCR or RTK Antigen tests within three days before entering Malaysia.

“They are also required to undergo health screenings by the Health Ministry of Malaysia at the entry points of this country and to subsequently undergo self-quarantine for 14 days at the location to be determined by the respective institutions of higher learning,” she said.

Noraini said the institutions of higher learning will be given the flexibility to decide on the appropriate mode of learning according to the requirements of the respective programmes, including continuing with online learning.

Having noted that Malaysia is now in the recovery phase with the Covid-19 situation increasingly coming under control, Noraini highlighted that the government has allowed various sectors including schools, kindergartens and pre-schools to resume operations.

Given such developments, the government has decided for universities to fully reopen in October, she said.

Noraini urged both the institutions of higher learning and their students to make the necessary preparations for the full reopening in October.

“The Ministry of Higher Education is of the view that the remaining period of nearly  three months until the new semester begins this October is sufficient for all to make the necessary preparations,” she said, adding that students who may face issues with accommodation and flight tickets to contact the student affairs division at their respective institutions.

She reminded university students to maintain social distancing upon their return to their campuses.

She also said student activities will be allowed to be held with a maximum 250 persons in attendance, subject to the space and social distancing.

However, she said that the authorities may revise the standard operating procedures and guidelines for universities from time to time.

“Once again I reiterate, the government’s decision to allow the reopening of institutions of higher learning starting from July until full reopening in October 2020, is made based on the government’s concern in ensuring the studies of students of institutions of higher learning are not affected,” she said, pointing out that university students’ education and wellbeing are her ministry’s priority as they are important assets for the country’s future.

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