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Headache for students

U-turn on reopening of universities would burden those who have moved back home: Ex-minister

03 Jul 2020 / 10:28 H.

PETALING JAYA: Reopening universities in the near future would be a great inconvenience for students of higher learning.

Such a move would entail them having to return to their campus, which could be away from their home state, and that would incur additional costs.

According to some students, many have already terminated their rental tenancy agreements and sent their belongings home.

Former Youth and Sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (pix) said there are those who have to travel between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak to return to campus, which can be costly.

Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced earlier this week that the Higher Education Ministry would make an announcement soon on the resumption of lectures at universities.

This is despite a previous announcement by the ministry stating that lectures would be conducted online until Dec 31.

Syed Saddiq said the “flip-flopping” by the government would add to the financial burden of the students.

“I hope the ministry can provide clear information on this issue to address the concerns and answer questions raised,” he said in a statement yesterday.

On Wednesday, Ismail Sabri said the National Security Council had approved a Higher Education Ministry proposal to reopen universities and colleges “in the near future” in view of the reduction in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

He said the ministry has prepared standard operating procedures and an official announcement would be made soon.

All educational institutions were ordered to close when the number of Covid-19 cases began to rise rapidly in March.

However, students in Forms Five and Six who are sitting for the SPM and other examinations resumed classes on June 24, while kindergartens reopened this week. All other classes at the primary and secondary levels are expected to reopen soon.

Almost immediately after Ismail Sabri’s announcement, social media was swamped with postings by university students condemning the move and urging the government to reconsider its decision.

“Some students who live far away have spent hundreds of ringgit to move out their belongings from their hostels. For those who don’t understand why many don’t agree with the announcement, try putting yourselves in their shoes,” said Twitter user @callmenisaa.

Another user, @syazwanihanafii, suggested that students be given the option to continue with online classes if they do not wish to return to campus.

@FaizmahFowzi said: “If we knew, we wouldn’t have ended our house rental contracts. Now, who is going to accept tenants with less than a year remaining?”

Others said the government should not have made the initial announcement that there would not be physical classes until Dec 31, and should have just said that universities would be closed until the Covid-19 pandemic is manageable.

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Headache for students

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