Experts stress quick, consistent and centralised approaches, plus extra support for students and IT systems, during webinar

Universities in east and Southeast Asia could offer useful coronavirus models for Western institutions, which are months behind in battling with campus shutdowns.

Experts from China, Japan and Malaysia offered their advice at a 17 September webinar, hosted by the UK-based Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE). They stressed tight collaboration between governments, higher education institutions and the public in battling the disease, as well as the need for state financial backing and technological support.

“For the most part, the east and Southeast Asian approach to higher education has been centrally regulated, with whole-system shutdown, regulation and reopening, and clear demarcation of periods of offline-only provision from phases of mixed and online provision,” the CGHE wrote.

Norzaini Azman, professor of higher education at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), said institutions in her country initially faced a tough challenge.

“Many universities did not have proper disaster protocols earlier, and some needed a lot of funding, either for hygiene arrangements or for online learning,” she said. “Many HEIs had trouble with IT infrastructure.”

Read more : Joyce Lau : Times higher Education : 17 September 2020