Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: Students may return to their respective universities earlier than Dec 31, which is the previous directive by the Higher Education Ministry, said University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) vice chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid.

He said that with the reopening of schools slated for July 15, a similar directive could be issued by the ministry to resume university activities shortly.

“My personal opinion is that with schools reopened on July 15, how can the same not apply to universities? I think that in one or two weeks’ time, the ministry will make an announcement that students are allowed to return to campus,” he said.

In May, the Higher Education Ministry announced that all teaching and learning (PdP) programmes at all public universities and private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) must be conducted online, with no face-to-face lessons allowed, until Dec 31.

Khairuddin said that at present, UCTS only has no more than 100 students at the campus while others are not allowed to return to campus other than to complete their final year projects (FYP) or research which may need a special laboratory.

“However, the return of the students to campus must be done in phases. For example, the final year students are allowed to return first.

“We also need to ensure that dormitories are not too congested and that students are not placed too close to each other in terms of proximity,” he said in an exclusive interview with New Sarawak Tribune today (July 5).

He suggested that the Health Ministry’s 14-day incubation period should also apply in terms of phasing the students back into the campus.

“They must be reintegrated back to the campus within 14 days of one another so that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are complied with and so that we can monitor if there are transmissions of the Covid-19 virus.

“If there is no issue within the 14-day period, then we can allow the first and second-year students to return to the campus,” he said.