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UMS thanks MOHE for student E-learning aid

5th November, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has expressed its appreciation for the initiative of the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) to provide students with data plans and electronic devices as announced by the minister, Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad recently.

UMS Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic & International), Professor Dr Rasid Mail said the ministry’s initiative would help to alleviate the difficulties encountered by UMS students in accessing the university’s official online teaching and learning management system (SMARTUMSV3).

“Online teaching and learning has become a major backbone in the education system during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

“Therefore, both IPTA and IPTS have switched to online systems. UMS academic staff and support staff have received ongoing training and support through the E-learning Center.

“The main challenge faced by the 17,829 students who are currently enrolled in UMS, is the high cost of data transfer. This is triggered when an hour of online lectures can use up to 1 GB of the content of the lecture which is usually delivered via live video format. In fact, the current economic situation may have a negative impact on the ability of many students to buy data capacity,” he said.

Of the 17,829 UMS students, 4,471 are from the Peninsula, 1,692 from Sarawak and 287 from Labuan. Meanwhile, there are 5,935 students living in urban areas and 5,444 students living in rural areas of Sabah.

Noraini in her announcement said that data plans from Celcom, DiGi, Maxis and Telekom Malaysia offer prices as low as RM28 for 35 GB in the Google Meet domain.

Furthermore, hardware in the form of laptops and mobile devices will be provided to students at a discounted price, under the collaborations between Acer, Samsung and Apple as well as MOHE.

MOHE allocated RM3.8 million which is expected to benefit 76,100 students, where RM24 million will be allocated to provide 320,396 B40 students with SIM cards, or cash or vouchers to subscribe to data plans.

MOHE also emphasises that the computer device assistance scheme will enable 8,965 B40 students targeted at public universities to receive laptops for free or loans, or cash or vouchers to purchase their personal computer devices. All of these initiatives will enhance the productivity of our students during this difficult and challenging time.

Dr Rasid added that new students for the 2020/2021 academic session will receive RM50 cash assistance to purchase data plans and other necessities.

He also expressed his appreciation to all UMS academic staff for their continued efforts to allow online teaching and learning to become an integral part of UMS culture.

“Of course, the initiative announced by MOHE is a result achieved after a thorough and in-depth discussion to enable the teaching and learning process to be more conducive, especially among UMS students,” he explained.

He also commended the efforts of the Department of Information Technology and Communication (JTMK) in enhancing the capabilities of the UMS Learning Management System with improvement in the network architecture and innovative solutions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic must be viewed as an important challenge that must be overcome to ensure the development of the national higher education system and make it on par with international standards.

“Indeed, UMS students and staff are confident that strong and continuous support from the MOHE will further strengthen UMS effort to ensure the achievement of its mission and vision,” he said.

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