Published On: 06/09/2021

MONDAY 06 SEP 2021

Safety first: Elajsolan and Prof Lee say guidelines from the authorities on the unvaccinated will be adhered to.

Safety first: Elajsolan and Prof Lee say guidelines from the authorities on the unvaccinated will be adhered to.

PETALING JAYA: Private colleges and universities are well prepared for the reopening soon but are putting out a clear message – their doors will remain tightly closed to unvaccinated students, lecturers and support staff members.

Higher education officials and medical experts backed the government’s decision that only those fully vaccinated would be allowed into campuses for physical classes.

“Students and staff are required to be fully vaccinated for reopening.

“This is part of the condition imposed by the Higher Education Ministry.

“We fully support it for the safety of the entire campus community,” said National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) president Elajsolan Mohan when contacted yesterday.

He said this was based on the understanding given following recent consultation sessions with ministry officials.

He said counselling would be provided to those who refused vaccination.

“We believe in educating them on the benefits of vaccination in protecting themselves and the community,” he said.

Elajsolan said online teaching would continue for all students, with hybrid teaching taking place for a specified number of classes, modules and subjects.

“This is because we have to maintain a safe number of students accessing the campus.

“This is also an option as there are parents who have concerns about students coming back physically to the campus and, as such, we will continue to provide online teaching and learning as well,” he added.

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Prof Dr Elizabeth Lee said the university was well prepared to reopen its doors next month.

She said physical classes were allowed for several categories of students last year but this was halted in May following the implementation of stricter movement restrictions.

“Even now under the National Recovery Plan (NRP), some students are allowed to return, such as those doing research and others who live with and around us.

“As such, the expected reopening in October will be part of this gradual process, albeit the biggest reopening since May this year,” she said when contacted.

Prof Lee said the highest levels of safety and protection were vital once institutions of higher learning reopened.

She said the Sunway Education Group had actively encouraged its staff members and students to sign up for vaccination over the last few months.

Apart from the official SOP issued by the authorities, Prof Lee said the university had also drafted its own internal safety measures for the reopening.

For those unvaccinated, she said that there was no choice but to abide by the Higher Education and Education ministries’ directives on the matter.

Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said colleges and universities were ready for the reopening with the past experience of implementing safety measures.

“It needs to be noted here that there were no major infection clusters reported in private institutions from the previous reopening, which means that the SOP had been very well complied with,” he added.

Dr Parmjit, who is the Asia Pacific University chief executive officer of Technology & Innovation (APU), said that hybrid learning was likely to continue at least until mid-2022, catering mainly for international and out-of-state students.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) vice-chancellor Prof Dr Roziah Janor said the university had drafted a plan for its reopening, which will be considered for approval by its senate on Thursday.

“We, too, have a plan but we will follow whatever the government regulations are,” she added.

Prof Roziah said UiTM had 35 campuses nationwide with some 179,000 students.

“As such, it would not be possible to bring back all the students at once to campuses as we have to take into consideration social distancing measures,” she added.

SEGi Group of Colleges chief executive officer Stella Lau said almost all its staff members were fully vaccinated save for a few who were pregnant.

The UCSI Group Corporate Affairs unit said the university would abide by the Higher Education Ministry’s decision on the status of unvaccinated students and lecturers.

On Saturday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said plans were underway to allow students of higher learning institutions to return to campus for the 2021/22 academic session through its IPT Recovery Plan starting in October.

She said the move to reopen such institutions under all phases of the National Recovery Plan was in line with efforts to enable university students to return to campus after being fully vaccinated.