Academician concurs with CM’s view on ‘Student bubble’

Madeline Berma

KUCHING: Datuk Dr Madeline Berma, Fellow at Academy of Sciences Malaysia, concurs with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s views on allowing and encouraging foreign students to study in Sarawak by creating a ‘student bubble’.

She pointed out that Sarawak is home to many international students who come to study at the state’s private and public institutions of higher learning.

“We must recognise that foreign students are important to Sarawak – international students enrich the learning environment with cultural perspectives, contribute to Sarawak’s local economy and increase diversity for universities in Sarawak to be internationally ranked,” she said when contacted today.

On Monday, Abang Johari expressed openness to the possibility of implementing a ‘student bubble’ concept in Sarawak, which would allow international students to enter the state, undergo quarantine and Covid-19 tests, and then resume their tertiary education in a face-to-face manner.

“To implement this ‘bubble’ effectively, universities in Sarawak have to give overseas students clear and detailed information on rules and guidance they must follow, and they must ensure that quarantine arrangements are complied with,” stressed Madeline.

She suggested that universities in Sarawak could build ‘bubbles’, whereby students taking the same subjects could be housed in groups with timetables that brought them to campus at the same time.

“This would minimise contact with other students,” she said.

She added that periodic testing could be conducted for students and they should not be allowed to leave their respective campuses.

“Universities can deliver blended teaching and learning where possible, accompanied by online lectures as well as digital-based materials when required.

“This is to provide students with a university experience that is as close as possible to the one they were expecting,” she said.

Madeline said that allowing international students to return to Sarawak would also help to boost the state’s economy through educational tourism.