Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid

SIBU: All institutions of higher learning are impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic University College of Sarawak (UCTS) is no exception.

It is expecting 30 percent less enrolment for its new intake in September as compared to previously due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (July 8), its vice-chancellor and president Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid said parents are still sceptical whether it is safe to send their children to study during this period.

“Most parents still have no confidence in sending their children to university. They have been asking whether the environment in the university is safe for study and (for outstation parents) they are anxious to know how universities are going to ensure the safety of their children who stay in the hostel,” he said.

Dr Khairuddin said the pandemic affects all institutions of higher learning elsewhere and not just UCTS.  In the last intake in April, he said there were already students who had postponed their studies.

“For the new intake, we will try to get 100 percent if possible. Our marketing team needs to work very hard to convince parents that learning can also be done online,” he said.

The marketing team is now also doing online registration instead of doing it at the university campus as has been done traditionally.

“We can also do students orientation online so they do not need to come here,” he added.

On discount for tuition fee, he said they had submitted their proposal to the university board for consideration.

Dr Khiruddin said the request by parents for a discount on tuition fee was logical as classes had been called off when the movement control order (MCO) came into effect on March 18.

On the quantum of discount, he said it depends on the type of courses.

We have submitted our proposal to the board and I am sure the board will agree. We will definitely give discounts for courses that involve lab activity,” he assured.

For students coming from families seriously affected by the pandemic, the university might give consideration, he said adding that it currently has 1.850 students.

“They can come to us and we will consider on a case-by-case basis. For example we will consider families who have to sell their house due to financial problems. We are here to help,” he added.

During the MCO period where learning was halted, he said the university with funds from the Education Ministry provided food of three meals a day for outstation students who were confined to its hostel.

For those renting around the campus area, dry food was provided for them from donations by associations, companies and individuals.

Learning was conducted online by its lecturers during the MCO period.

The university expected that by 2022, at least 50 percent of courses could be delivered according to online standards and quality.