Students fear emergence of new clusters

KUCHING: The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) recently issued a statement which stated that six categories of students of higher learning institutions will be allowed to return to their respective campuses beginning March 1.

These six categories include certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree and postgraduate students who need to conduct clinical and practical work requiring laboratories, workshops, design studios and special equipment.

It also includes students who do not have Internet access and without a conducive environment to undergo online teaching and learning; existing and new international students except those from the United Kingdom; students with disabilities (OKU); and students taking the Malaysia University English Test (MUET) and international as well as professional examinations.   

New Sarawak Tribune managed to speak to students of higher learning institutions to get their views on this matter, in which many of them gave mixed reactions.

Those who agreed with the decision said that physical learning is more beneficial for the students’ learning process as compared with online learning.

However, some have also voiced their concerns that social distancing would be difficult to maintain and feared that it would lead to the emergence of new clusters.

They were also worried that some students might not be disciplined enough to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set, and that students whose campuses are in another state would be financially burdened.

Syahmi Fakhri Suharto

Syahmi Fakhri Suharto, 20 (Universiti Teknologi Mara Perlis)

I think this decision is for the best. It cannot be denied that transportation costs will be higher than usual and there might be some confusion following the different rules set by the different states, particularly for documentations. I hope that if the universities allow their students to return, there would be no last-minute changes or orders because the students would be devastated and it would cause inconveniences.

Vinitha Krishnan

Vinitha Krishnan, 25 (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman)

The ability to return to campus would be beneficial for students. It is more convenient as compared to online learning as we will have a better learning environment. Unfortunately, the number of Covid-19 cases is still a cause for concern in our country, so it poses the question — will everything be under control or will there be new clusters if students return to their respective campuses?

Nurhazirah Aliah Mohammad

Nurhazirah Aliah Mohammad, 20 (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak)

I do not think this is the right time to resume physical learning on campus because I am concerned that some students may not follow the SOPs. Moreover, most courses have a large number of students so it will be challenging to implement social distancing if the university does not have the facilities to accommodate. Even though online learning has its challenges, I think it is the best solution in this pandemic as our health and safety is all that matters.

Abu Zar Noh

Abu Zar Noh, 22 (Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Ilmu Khas)

Physical learning benefits students in many ways, especially in terms of enhancing the understanding of what we are learning. I would love to go back to campus but I do not think it is the right time at the moment, given that the number of Covid-19 cases is showing no signs of declining. Students’ health should be prioritised and returning to campus may incur financial burden to some.

Nurhafizah Sazali

Nurhafizah Sazali, 24 (Universiti Malaysia Pahang)

I think returning to campus would be good for students who do not really like online learning but I am concerned about our safety. Even though the SOPs are put in place, the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase daily. Physical learning should not resume yet to ensure that students do not become part of the statistics.

Kamaludin Rasdi

Kamaludin Rasdi, 22 (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)

I think it is the right time to resume physical learning on campus because students have been staying at home for too long, with some getting stressed out due to online learning. I believe that students in higher education institutions are wise enough to look after themselves. However, I am concerned for students who have to travel to other states in order to return to their respective campuses because plane tickets would be expensive.

Siti Nurhafifa Mohd Hashim

Siti Nurhafifa Mohd Hashim, 23 (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak)

At the moment, we cannot anticipate what decision will be made by the government regarding the Covid-19 situation in our country. I am sure that students are worried about whether or not there will be any last-minute changes from the ministry.