Ready to head back to university now that Malaysian campuses are reopening? Here’s what you need to know first

Students can now return to campus once fully vaccinated and have cleared the required waiting period. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Students can now return to campus once fully vaccinated and have cleared the required waiting period. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — The Ministry of Higher Education’s (MoHE) recent announcement that university and college campuses will reopen in stages from October 15 for fully vaccinated students and staff was much welcomed.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad said the reopening will apply to all tertiary education institutions in all states, regardless of which phase of the National Recovery Plan they are at respectively.

However, not everybody will be subject to the same set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) as those returning to campuses in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan will also have to comply with regulations set by those state governments. 

International students are also subject to certain regulations set by MoHE.

Here’s a list of what you need to know if you’re heading to university (for the first time) or returning to your campus:

For students in peninsular Malaysia

You can return to your campus once you are fully vaccinated and have cleared the required period needed after your second dose. It is the institution's responsibility to ensure returning or new students are fully vaccinated. 

MoHE is encouraging those who have not completed their vaccinations to get their shots via walk-ins at vaccination centres, adding that those who cannot be vaccinated because of health issues can appeal to their respective institutions. 

The ministry said teaching and learning approaches will be carried out via two methods: hybrid on campus lessons and online learning. 

Tertiary institutions can allow for classes to be done fully online based on the subjects’ suitability for such a mode of teaching/learning.

If the tertiary institution allows online learning, students can choose to attend classes via this method.  

MoHE said that students have three options when it comes to returning to their respective campuses: use their own vehicles, be sent by fully vaccinated parents or guardians or by flying in. 

Students can also carpool with other students, so long as everyone has been fully vaccinated. 

These students will only need a letter from their respective tertiary institutions to show that they are allowed to return to their campus if they come across a police roadblock when crossing state or district boundaries.

If you are returning to Sabah, Sarawak or Labuan

Firstly, students returning to these states must obtain police clearance letters to cross state borders. 

They also have to take an RT-PCR swab test three days before leaving. This is also subject to the current directives set by the various state governments. 

Students must take the swab test at government clinics, and the cost will be borne by the Health Ministry. MoHE said tertiary institutions are also allowed to do their own tests but they must bear the cost of these tests. 

MoHE is also encouraging tertiary institutions to provide Covid-19 self-test kits during student enrollment. 

For students who have not completed their vaccinations, they can walk-in at vaccination centres but they must show proof that they are heading back to their tertiary institutions, be it by showing their offer letters (for new students) or their student cards. 

If your tertiary institution is in Sabah, the state government has made it mandatory for fully vaccinated students to do self-assessments via the MySejahtera application. 

Fully vaccinated students returning to Sarawak are exempted from quarantine.

Sarawak also has a special clause for those who are unable to be vaccinated due to health reasons; they can apply for exemption to enter the state by submitting a confirmation letter of their health status issued by a government hospital or clinic. 

Students returning to Labuan are required to undergo five days of quarantine at their respective tertiary institutions, and must take a RTK-Ag test on the fourth day of quarantine. 

The quarantine cost for students returning to all three states will be borne by the government. 

And what if you are an international student

Approval has been given to international students who fall into one of these three categories:

Citizens of the United Kingdom; those who are enrolled or looking to take up courses in Mobility and Edu-tourism; or looking to relocate to Malaysia along with their families.

MoHE said dependents of international students are allowed to travel with them into the country, but must submit their applications alongside the international student’s application for approval by the Director-General of Immigration via the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) to enter Malaysia. 

Both international students and their dependents must take a RT-PCR test 72 hours before their travel date and must show a negative result prior to travelling to Malaysia, as well as download the MySejahtera application and fill up their information there. 

Results of the test must be shown to the officer upon arrival at the international entry point and only results that have been translated into English will be accepted. 

Students and their dependents must undergo a14-day quarantine at a predetermined quarantine centre set by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma). The length of the quarantine may be extended depending on the risk assessment done on the 14th day. 

The cost for the quarantine and Covid-19 tests will be borne by the student, with the RT-PCR test costing RM250, while the quarantine is RM2,600 with an additional RM150 daily for upkeep costs. The payment can be made online at www.myeg.gov.my

Payment for the quarantine and Covid-19 tests must be done before travelling to Malaysia, and a receipt would be issued by an officer at the point of entry. 

For international students who want to undergo home quarantine, they must send an application for Home Surveillance Order (HSO) a few days before travelling to [email protected], where a risk assessment will be done by the Health Ministry for approval. 

Once the international student has completed his/her mandatory quarantine, it is up to their tertiary institution to bring them to their place of residence. NADMA will issue a release order to the student for use when crossing borders. 

For international students transiting at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to head to their tertiary institutions in East Malaysia, they must undergo another Covid-19 test after undergoing their 14-day quarantine.

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