PUTRAJAYA: Students of higher learning institutions (IPT) will be allowed to return to campus in stages beginning Oct 15, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad announced today.

However, she said the permission was only given to fully-vaccinated students in all categories and involved all phases of the National Recovery Plan.

She said the process will also be carried out in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the higher education sector.

Noraini also said that only fully-vaccinated academic and non-academic staff would be allowed on campus.

“This will create a safe social community as well as a Phase Four of PPN environment on campus. Strict SOPs must be complied with to manage the in and out movements,” she told a virtual press conference today.

Noraini said most of the total 1.2 million IPT students have undergone online teaching and learning (PdP) for more than three consecutive semesters due to the Covid-19 pandemic where the safety aspect in the operation of IPTs was highly emphasised.

She said the decision to allow students to return to campus was made after taking into account the views of the National Security Council (MKN), Ministry of Health (MOH), IPT management, representatives of private higher learning institutions (IPTS) as well as IPT student unions and associations.

Noraini also announced a 20 percent fee reduction to all Malaysian students at public universities for first semester of 2021/2022 academic session, which will benefit 555,340 students through an initiative worth RM175 million.

On the students’ movement to return to campus, Noraini said it would depend on the IPT academic calendar as the IPT was also required to make a proper plan to identify their students, coordinate movement schedule and ensure that the returning students and staff undergo strict health screenings.

She said the students would need to get the permission letter to return to campus from their respective IPT and also from the police to travel interstate.

Students in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan should also take the RT-PCR test before returning to their campuses.

Noraini said all IPT should provide an isolation centre to manage symptomatic cases among their students.

Permission to enter Malaysia would also be given to these categories of international students, namely those from the United Kingdom, those under the Mobility and Edutourism programmes, as well as their legal dependents.

Noraini said those international students must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and registered with the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) before they can be allowed to enter the country.

“They must also take Covid-19 RT-PCR test three days before entering Malaysia and will have to undergo health screening and quarantine at the designated location upon arrival in Malaysia,” she said.

The minister said the teaching and learning method for the IPT students would be conducted in a hybrid manner and in compliance with the SOP set by the MKN.

On Covid-19 vaccination, Noraini said her ministry projected 100 percent of IPT students and staff to be fully vaccinated by end of next month.

Right now, she said only 66 percent of existing students and 90 percent of IPT staff were fully vaccinated.

“Existing students and staff who are yet to get vaccinated can go for walk-in vaccination at any vaccination centre. They just need to bring their student/staff card and MyKad of passport.

“As for new students, they need to bring their university offer letter and MyKad or passport,” she added. - Bernama