IIUM Student Union to ease students adapting to the new normal

By Hakim Mahari

GOMBAK, 22 May 2020: As a response to the proposed Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning (ERTL) by the university, the IIUM Student Union Academic Council (IIUM SUAC) under the Office of Education, has prepared a survey to help devise a solution towards an academic matter, in the face of conditional movement control order (CMCO).

Their objective was to create a centralised platform for formal discussions, collect students’ opinions through surveys and to devise proposals for solution towards any academic matter that concerns students’ academic welfare at large.

The council has successfully collected 12,452 responses from students in the three campuses in Gombak, Pagoh and Kuantan and the Centre for Foundation Studies (CFS) who gave their responses on the matter.

The survey was aimed to observe and measure the readiness of IIUM students to undergo full-fledged online learning starting from June 2020, and to study the opinion of the students towards implementation of ERTL.

Based on the survey, the findings are as explained below:

1. Personal assistance in fulfilling individual needs of students, in terms of finance and access to Internet and electronic device. – At least 13% or 980 of the respondents do not own at least a laptop or computer at home, 87% respondents who own at least one electronic device and 26% of them need to share their device with other family members.

For internet accessibility, 30% of the respondents have insufficient internet connection to join an online class, 12% of them conveyed that they need to go to the nearest cyber cafe for internet and computer access.

2. Adjustment of grades for affected semester(s). 83.4% voted for adjustment or lowering of grades for the affected semester(s). An adjustment of grade is needed after considering the challenges and difficulties faced by students at home. This can also help keep students motivated in their studies.

3. Permission for graduating students to return to campus in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) by the National Security Council, Ministry of Health and the University.

48.2% prefer to return to the campus in June to access the facilities provided by the university. A large number of respondents are among graduating students who need to have good and continuous access to the internet, library services, studios and laboratories for the completion of Final Year Project.

4. Consideration by the University on reduction of tuition and mahallah fees. With the ERTL in place, the students have raised a call for reduction of tuition and mahallah fees, especially for those who have decided to stay off-campus throughout the ERTL period.

On the average, 40% of students come from a family with income below RM4,000. Therefore, this matter should be given consideration to lighten the financial burden of students. The reduction of tuition and mahallah fees will help students to cover payment for better internet plan.

5. Asynchronous class system for students throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – 65% of the students are staying in rural and suburban areas. Students under these groups frequently face problems of unstable and internet access. Hence, it is felt fair to use asynchronous class system to ease the rules of attendance.

6. Financially assisting needy students for stable and good internet access. IIUM students are mostly of middle-income and B40 families with 58.9 percent rate. They are the most affected group amidst the country’s economic instability in the face of the pandemic. IIUM Student Union proposed to the IIUM administration and the Malaysian government to provide assistance to those affected either in the form of rebates, free internet or lending devices for e- learning purposes.

7. Specific training for students and lectures on E-learning. 61% of IIUM students are prepared to undergo e-learning following the pandemic crisis. However, half of them feel the need for specific training to make this e-learning successful as this is a new learning environment for most IIUM students, hence it takes time to ensure students adapt to the new system properly. A suggestion is for a special guideline to be set up for both students and lecturers to understand the system. Besides, it is also helpful to include videos or tutorials for reference of lecturers and students in adapting to this new norm.

8. Consideration of any other relevant proposed solutions by the Kulliyyah-based Societies (KBS). In the case of online learning, one-fits-all policy cannot be implemented as the nature and needs of every Kulliyyah are different and unique to its own. From the surveys, all Kulliyyah-based Societies (KBS) have produced their own analysis and proposed solutions for their respective Deanery for the betterment of ERTL mechanism in their Kulliyyah.

It is believed that in ensuring no one is left behind in the process of education, a collaborative effort must be made between all parties involved, including administration, students and academics, according to the student council.

IIUM Student Union Education Officers and Academic EXCOs of Kulliyyah-based Societies (KBS) from all IIUM campuses are represented in the council.***

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