Higher education minister ‘hopes’ public universities will be fair to students over postponed intakes

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad expressed “hope” today for public universities to be compassionate when dealing with students affected by her ministry’s recommendation to suspend ongoing intakes.

Yesterday, the Higher Education Ministry “advised” all public universities to suspend physical intakes and registrations on the same day that these began.

Today, Noraini suggested that the responsibility for the suspension was with the higher learning institutions (IPT), saying this was in line with the policy to grant them management “autonomy”.

“I take note of the grouses and complaints from the students as well as their families due to the IPT’s decision to postpone physical registrations.

“I hope the IPTs will be reasonable and compassionate in managing the affairs arising from this suspension,” she said in a statement today.

She added that the rise in Covid-19 cases was “beyond expectations” and that her ministry had consulted with stakeholders including the IPTs, the National Security Council, and the Health Ministry, among others.

Noraini added that students who have already made the journey to their respective universities may remain there and await further instructions, but urged others who have yet to start their travels to postpone this.

“Finally, I apologise for all the hardships that have arisen and hope that we can contain the spread of Covid-19 together,” she said.

Online, there has been an outpouring of anguish as well as anger against Noraini and her ministry over the move to suspend in-person registrations on the very day these were to start.

Some students questioned why the announcement was made so late, pointing out that Covid-19 cases have been climbing since September 11 when the country reported 182 new cases in a single day.

Private citizens as well as group’s such as former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s Muda party have since mobilised to gather and offer assistance to affected students in the absence of support from the authorities.

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