[30 March 2020] Academic Matters

Monday, 30th March 2020

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullah/Salam sejahtera. I hope everyone is coping well and in high spirits.

Academic Matters

This is to inform everyone that USM have decided the following:

1) We will continue with our planned resumption of Semester 2, 2019/2020 on 5th April (Health Campus) and 6th April (for all other campuses);

2)   We have prepared a new academic calendar with the following key elements:

a) Semester 2, 2019/2020 has been extended to 27th September 2020 (kindly refer to the schedule attached with this message);

b) NO students currently residing at home are to return to USM until instructed otherwise and students currently residing in USM are allowed to leave for home beginning 15th April 2020 (unless MCO is extended); and

c) The above points are applicable to all undergraduates and postgraduates.

3) USM will open our doors to our students beginning 8th June 2020, with the first returning batches being final year students and postgraduates. This will be followed by non-final year students (read: non-final year students would expect to return to USM, if necessary, beginning July 2020 onwards).

The reason for the 8th is the following: 1st June will see the return of staff to prepare laboratories and be trained in basic decontamination processes. We aim to decontaminate laboratories at the end of every session. We believe these training and preparations will take a week beginning 1st June.

4) The movement of students beginning 8th June will depend on three factors:

a) will students need to conduct experiment(s) for their final year project or their respective course(s),

b) will students be asked by their respective lecturers to attend face-to-face reinforcement session(s), and

c) will students need to sit for exams in the conventional sense.

A 'yes' for any of the above questions would require returning to USM. A 'no' to all would mean that the candidate will remain home.

Considering the uncertainties that we are all facing, the aim now is to minimise face-to-face activities, and Schools are presently re-designing their course offering and teaching plans accordingly.

5)   We will stagger the return of students to USM based on (4). Students will be sent instructions containing expected date of return, and possible date for returning home (for undergraduates). We chose to avoid 1st June as the date for returning to USM so that our students are not caught in post-Raya traffic.

Apart from those pursuing their internship, we aim for students to not stay in USM beyond August 2020. We hope to be able to accommodate all industrial training and internships during this period.

The above processes are summarised in a flow diagram developed by MPRC (see next posting).

Note: Should there be no extension of MCO, or if MCO is lifted at any point between April and May, then USM will consider allowing postgraduates to return before 8th June.

Also, should the MCO be extended to end of July, then there is a likelihood that all courses requiring laboratories, final year project, and internship would have to be given the grade 'incomplete' and be carried forward to Semester 1 of the next Academic Session.


1) All co-curriculum courses will be conducted and assessed online;

2) Only 10% of the courses offered by a School are given the leeway to conduct conventional final exams, while the remainder 90% will either adopt 100% assessment via coursework, or through online final exams;

3) Courses having International Students will not be part of the 10% above. As such, International Students do not have to return to USM for the purpose of sitting for final exams; and

4) Following the above, we expect most courses to be concluded before September 2020, and the 2 weeks dedicated for exams are meant for conventional ones (read: courses on online exams can conduct the process before the exams weeks).

Students Well Being

1) Surveys from Schools indicate about 10% of our undergraduates are without or with limited access to the internet/online materials;

2) To cater for the above, Schools have been asked to send the lecture material in USB and/or printed format, and to use low bandwith asynchronous methods, including via podcasts and Whatsapp;

3) The face-to-face reinforcement sessions are not meant to cram the whole syllabus in a space of a week; and

4) The Government recently announced the enhancing of the population’s accessibility to the internet. We encourage all students to explore the possibilities for you to now have access or to improve your access to the internet. We hope that your learning experience under this situation remain satisfactory and with all learning outcomes attained.

Concluding Remarks

USM has considered a number of feedbacks and suggestions in arriving at the above decisions. We believe that online learning and assessment is a springboard to USM's mission in transforming education for a sustainable tomorrow. Changing and adapting to a challenge as unpredictable as COVID-19 is never easy and we expect teething issues. This said, we strongly believe that our community - students and staff alike - will rise to meet this challenge, overcome it unscathed, and experience the process of 'transforming education'.

Please stay in touch with your School.

We will issue a FAQ document soon to address your questions.

Stay safe.



Universiti Sains Malaysia

Monday, 30 March 2020



Flow Diagram Academic