Students speak up during session of Korea-ASEAN Webinar

By Dhvani Sanghavi, AUN Intern
29 March 2021

The second session in the Youtube Live webinar by AUN, in collaboration with ACTS and the Korean Council for University Education (KCUE) on 17 February 2021 allowed selected ASEAN students to directly voice their experience on online learning and other educational challenges they might have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Stella Anne Teoh Ming Hui was the spokesperson for the first group of students. She made positive notes on how universities prioritized support for students in their final year, students who had lab classes, and students with internet problems. While she acknowledged that the increased reliance of online platforms and online university portals were necessary, she noted that the constant use of electronic devices can cause eye and back strains for many students. Increased dependency on the internet also turned presentations and group works into high stress situations for students who feared an unstable internet connection. Ms. Stella introduced the concept of FAN-ASEAN, F for flexibility in the teaching or method of assessment, A for accessibility to resources and other peers, and N for needs that any students might have in the future in higher education. She believes this framework will be important for an ASEAN navigating post-pandemic era in higher education.

Next was Ms. Anggi Utama Dewi, who shared her unique experience as an international student studying in South Korea during the pandemic. She described the seamless process of flying to South Korea due to the efficient and helpful health officers and immigration officers. She also praised how the university provided her care packages full of toys and puzzles during her 14-day quarantine, as well as how they were able to swiftly shift from offline to online learning to prevent the further spread of the virus. The 2020 Spring Term was also postponed to ensure that they could provide a thorough guideline for the new normal, blended learning, while full autonomy was given to teachers to choose the best approach for them and their students. The university provided the students with mental health support as well, as circumstances limited socialization among peers or professors. Ms. Anggi believes that the most important aspect moving forward is for universities to ensure that their quality of education does not deteriorate and to monitor international students to make sure they are not left behind in this unprecedented time.

Finally, Mr. Genta Pramanasukma, an ACTS student on an exchange program in Singapore’s NUS, observed the smooth transition from offline to online learning in NUS. The professors flexibility allowed exchange students to fly back to their home countries, and NUS provided a refund for their accommodation as well. Mr. Genta stressed that exchange programs should still continue in the new normal through strict measures taken by both the local and host universities, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Due to the safety concern students might have, universities should ponder the possibility of doing an online or hybrid exchange program as well.