UMSU Statement Following the Media Statement Issued by the Ministry of Higher Education on 31 January 2021
The University of Malaya Students’ Union (UMSU) would like to refer to the media statement issued by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) on 31 January 2021 regarding the returning of students into the campus starting 1 March 2021.
As mentioned in the statement, only 6 specific categories of students are allowed to physically return to campus from 1 March 2021. Although the decision was made amicably due to the increasing number of cases daily, the Union believes that there are some aspects that should be addressed by the management of the Universiti Malaya.
Therefore, the Union would like to propose several suggestions regarding the retuning of students to campus starting from March 2021 as follows:
1. Swab test for Universiti Malaya students who will return to campus.
The Union urges the University to provide subsidies for swab tests to students who will be returning to campus. A subsidy of RM70 or RM50 at the health clinic can be given to students but with the condition that the respective IPTs (Higher Education Institution) can issue a letter of permission for students living in West Malaysia to return to campus.
Another alternative method is for the University to take the initiative to do mass-testing with cheaper alternatives such as through the Rapid Test Kit Antigen (RTK-Ag). Based on our findings, the standard cost for each kit is in the range of RM37 to RM40.
This would greatly help to avoid any clusters in the residential colleges on campus.
2. Accommodation on campus.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, HEP (Student Affairs Division) has taken steps to reduce the capacity in some residential colleges to adhere with the SOP set by the Government in fighting the outbreak.
As MOHE has allowed only 6 categories of students to return to campus including students who do not have adequate internet access and unconducive learning environment as well as students who have laboratories, studios and others, the Union would like to suggest that HEP should formulate a new residential college placement selection mechanism to ensure that students who belong to these 6 categories are given the priority for placement. If the Movement Control Order (MCO) is to be adamantly continued, the University must provide a letter of permission for inter-state/district travel to be used by students who will be to returning to campus by the opening of the semester.
At the same time, HEP and residential college administrations need to play a proactive role in contacting all students who has a place in residential college but did not performed the check-out process to identify whether the students wish to stay in college or at home. This is the most viable solution in maximizing the space for students who are more in need of a placement.
The Union would also like to emphasize the need for residential college application process for students who have difficulties with internet access and a conducive learning environment to be less bureaucratic and more direct.
A specific and detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) should be formulated by the University to avoid any confusion and it should be outlined within a reasonable period.
3. Facilities for online learning.
The University needs to play an important role in improving the facilities utilised by students throughout the online learning session for the upcoming semester such as Wi-Fi, online database and others. In addition, the necessary facility aid such as laptop as well as free internet sim cards for Universiti Malaya students at home should be continued to ensure a satisfactory level of online learning.
With this, the Union would also like to suggest to the University to continue the UM-CELCOM Data plan which will expire on 19 February 2021 according to the notice issued by TNCA on 31 December 2020. As learning will continue in a hybrid manner, the termination of this service will affect the students of Universiti Malaya who rely on this service throughout their online learning session.
4. Preparation on the list of courses & Subjects to be held physically for the upcoming semester.
Based on the media statement issued by MOHE on 31 January 2021 regarding the 6 categories of students who are allowed to return to campus, one of the categories is undergraduate students who will undergo practical activities, laboratory, clinical, studios, workshops and others. According to this statement, this means that teaching and learning for the upcoming semester will be a hybrid session.
Therefore, the Union would like to suggest to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International) to hold a meeting with all the Deans, Heads of Department and others for each faculty to identify what courses or subjects that should be held physically and which courses should stay online.
In addition, the TNCA needs to set a due date for each faculty to submit the list of courses and subjects that will be held physically. This is to facilitate students of Universiti Malaya to plan their return to campus for the next semester in terms of accommodation, plane and bus tickets, and others.
UMSU hopes that this proposal will be well received by the management of the Universiti Malaya. The Union will continue to voice suggestions, proposals and criticisms that are seen to reflect the current needs of fellow students. The Union would always be ready to assist the administration of the Universiti Malaya as long as the decisions and actions taken are beneficial to the welfare and well-being of fellow students.
SERVING THE STUDENTS
Universiti Malaya Students’ Union 2020
4 February 2021