Despite COVID-19, M’sian students still prefer to study in the UK

THE United Kingdom (UK) has long retained its reputation for being among the top student destination for Malaysian students thanks largely to the fact that UK universities are among the best in the world.

“That, and the long-standing history between the two countries and not to mention, a familiarity about the UK that is linked to the cultural life and history that Malaysians feel connected to,” MABECS executive director Devina Sivagurunathan told FocusM.

MABECS is an education counselling service company that is set up to assist students in Malaysia to find suitable places at universities in the UK both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

“Quality reputation aside, universities in the UK also offer an array of top-quality courses that are in high demand by employers worldwide,” Devina explained.

UK universities that made the QS World University Rankings 2022 list include University of Oxford (2), University of Cambridge (3), University College London (8), The University of Manchester (27), King’s College London (35), The University of Warwick (61) and University of Bristol (62).

Meanwhile, University of the Arts London (UAL) has been ranked second in the world for Art and Design in the QS World University Rankings for two years in a row.

“The UK is also a very affordable study destination, and the tuition fees and cost of living are competitive when compared to other study destinations like Australia and the United States,” she added.

According to statistics for the academic year 2019/2020, there were 14,600 Malaysian students in the UK. The numbers are expected to increase in the upcoming year with the return to face-to-face teaching as per the UK Government’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

“Malaysian students made up the largest number of Asian students in the UK. We’ve since dropped to second position because of the influx of students from China.

Devina Sivagurunathan

“The fact that there are no travel restrictions for Malaysians may also be another reason for an increase in this year’s numbers.

“The latest application numbers from the UK indicate an increased interest particularly in terms of undergraduate applications to the UK as compared to the previous year,” Devina remarked.

The UK has also introduced post-study work opportunities from July 1, 2021 whereby international students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or Master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK.

Keeping Malaysian students save amid the pandemic

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination rates in the UK remain one of the highest in the world.

In fact, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), across the four UK countries, 90.5% to 92.4% had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 76.8% to 82.5% were fully vaccinated (as of Sept 1, 2021).

Meanwhile, by July 2021, 78% of UK residents and 79% of overseas residents arriving in the UK had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (as of Sept 6, 2021).

Universities in the UK are taking all science-based precautions to ensure students are well taken care of, and this includes providing free healthcare for their students.

COVID-19-related support provided by universities in the UK include discounted self-isolation for students arriving in university-owned Halls of Residence, grant towards the cost of quarantining in a government-managed quarantine hotel or 10 days free accommodation for students to quarantine in Halls of Residence.

“The Government also provides discounted COVID-19 tests for days two and right for self-isolating students while the universities will also provide one free-of-charge Test and Release COVID-19 test on day five of quarantine for those living in university-managed accommodation.

“There is also free coach service to provide transport from London’s Heathrow Airport to the Loughborough campus for new international students at the start of the academic year, and delivery of food parcels at no extra cost throughout self-isolation at Halls of Residence,” Devina explained. – Sept 9, 2021

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