2020 is indeed a roller coaster ride during the first quarter and it seems to be challenging throughout the whole year. COVID-19 is currently the entire nation daily headlines on most news, television programme and etc; a serious number of infected cases around the world have reached up to 1.3 million as per 13th April 2020. The escalated figure is a rather quite disturbing number and the phenomenon is considered a pandemic in early March. The number escalates terrifyingly within a month which forced many countries to declare state of emergency and lead to lockdown.
Malaysia is amongst the countries that enforce Movement Control Order (MCO) which was operated from 18th March 2020 prior to the announcement by our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yasin on 16th March 2020. Considering the current population of 32.2 million1, the Malaysian government has taken a sharp- witted move to flatten the curve as an initiative to aid the health workers and scientists that are putting their lives on the line working hard to cure patients and finding curative medicine or agent respectively.
UPM registered international students are approximately around 4000 in numbers with 170 mobility exchange students on their second semester of 2019/2020. During the MCO enforcement, schools, universities and non-essential business are required to be closed temporary until the curb has been officially lifted by the government. This is certainly unfavourable news for the international students as this affects the duration of the courses pursued and their financial assortment. Therefore, i-PUTRA has taken proactive alternatives to provide other hospitality apart from the reception counter services.
Counter opening for Visa and Pass
During MCO, i-PUTRA’s visa and pass counter operates with limited duration from Monday to Thursday from 9:00am – 12:00pm. Students are required to have valid identification document and ensure their safety during MCO. Students could also make an appointment with our on-duty officer for any operational purpose. Students that visit the office are required to follow correct prevention procedure such as having their hands sanitized on daily basis before and after the operation completed. Assigned officers would also be checking on the students’ body temperature while applying safe social distancing. They are also obliged to wear a face mask and sanitize their hands before dealing with our officers.
Image: Our officer checking a student’s body temperature before proceeding to the service counter
Rapid responder to mobility students
As COVID-19 cases are alarmingly increasing in all over the world, UPM is concerned on our high number of mobility students who are going for abroad studies. At i-PUTRA we are accounted to locate our students who are currently at overseas and assist them in the repatriation process by contacting the Embassy, Education Malaysia, Wisma Putra and Ministry of Education. Proactive measures are in need since most of international flights have been cancelled and rescheduled hence, it takes high determination to bring our students home.
In order to tackle the challenges, the mobility section has taken an action in initiating an online messenger group for both inbound and outbound students to provide them with current updates and announcements. Through this method, students are no longer left out or prone to anxiety during the MCO.
Providing daily essentials and meals to our residents
UPM Guest House are specially allocated for UPM mobility students whom studying at UPM with minimum of one month up to one year. During the MCO, i-PUTRA has distributed weekly meal packages to the respective students which consist of fruits, mineral water, biscuits, eggs, bread, meat patty and etc. On top of that we also provide daily essentials for students such as toothpaste, shampoo, detergent and in order to ease their hassle in getting some food or necessities outside the campus. Our Guesthouse Officer is also among one of UPM front liners as we are also responsible in giving three meals daily for our residents. Some students view our effort as a blessing during hardship.
Our resident does not only host inbound students but also outbound students that has been repatriated back to Malaysia from Chile, Indonesia and Japan in between 19th March to 3rd April 2020 with our studio room for their 14-day quarantine period.
Image: Our director Prof. Zainal Abidin Talib distributing food package and essentials to UPM Guest House residents.
Awareness and updates through social media platform
Social media is a powerful tool in delivering messages these days, as we update and share information with our international communities not only through emails but also via our Instagram and Facebook platform with news and announcement. This includes our operation hours and knowledge on COVID-19 prevention measures. In addition, we also encourage students to follow UPM official telegram for more circulations. i-PUTRA seizes the opportunity to create positivity and good vibes among the students by performing the hashtag; #WeAreFineAtUniversity via play card postings which was also taken part by other public universities. The significant remarks went viral and it leaves a positive message to the community.
Image: International students taking part in #WeAreFineAtUniversity playcard
Flatten the curve and break the chain
UPM is taking full responsibility and commitment in handling students during the MCO by deploying comprehensive response teams such as the Health Centre, Security Division, Student Affairs Division, OSH Office, Hospital UPM, Corporate Strategy and Communications Office, Counselling Division, Sahabat Masjid UPM and working together with i-PUTRA. Apart from that, UPM also receives full support from students’ associations such as UPMISA, MPP, Kolej Felo and many other NGOs who have been working tirelessly in this purpose.
The pandemic surely has given a big impact to our world, country, society and especially the university community. i-PUTRA as part of UPM and a service provider who are currently doing our best for our students in offering them ample services. Our services are now beyond client charter and have evolved to a compassionate assistance. We work together to keep our students at their best condition through these challenging days. Mutually we fight the disease with our capacity alongside the university to flatten the curve and break the chain!
22 April 2020
Date of Input: 27/05/2020 | Updated: 06/07/2020 | sitiafiqah
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan