Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

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Student Support During the Pandemic

Social distancing is the new reality in education, with students having to accept the radical change in the way that learning is approached. However, the abrupt shift from face-to-face classroom instruction to online classes can put students at risk for mental health challenges due to isolation that comes with self-study.

Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia’s (NUMed) teaching delivery and learning approaches have always emphasised the holistic development of both the hearts and minds of its students. During these trying times, caring communication has been key to NUMed students’ well-being across the different Movement Control Order (MCO) phases.

In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated NUMed's efforts in ensuring its students are getting the support they need. From messaging to email and text, staff and students alike are keeping connected to make online learning a success. Dr Ma Brenda Pancho, an associate professor and Dean of Student Affairs, shares that the adjustment extends to academic staff as well. They have had to adjust very quickly to online teaching by manipulating various technologies and software. “We have a buddy system for staff – to maintain regular online social connection during the pandemic. Regular online staff meetings also served as a platform to discuss current issues on online teaching and learning, as well as a platform for staff socialisation,” she explained.

Students who have not been able to return to their hometowns or countries are provided with free meals for lunch and dinner. Accommodation support is also given to them as well as those who still need to take their final exams. As for local and international students travelling back to their hometowns or countries, travel assistance is given to facilitate the process.

Uncertainties and worries are also eased with help from academic mentors and personal tutors. “They were enjoined to contact their mentees/tutees at the start of the MCO to encourage access to pastoral support or counselling provided by the NUMed Support Team and Counsellor,” said Dr Brenda.  For students preparing for their exams, the Student Support Team is ready with study skills advice via online meetings, emails or calls.

Students are also encouraged to access online support on how to maintain their well-being during the pandemic. These include Newcastle University's own online resources on their websites and a new app called inCLUde, designed to help students take small steps to improve and maintain their well-being. Each student also has a network of personal support from peer mentors, through personal tutors to professional counsellors who are ready to help. “Online sessions were also conducted for new students on how to look after themselves in general and during the pandemic,” shared Dr Brenda.

“The spirit of the NUMed community is very much alive at this time; we try to support and help each other, working in our respective teams, in order to come up with strategies on how best to deliver our teaching online,” Dr Brenda concluded.

NUMed continues the tradition of excellence set by Newcastle University, UK, by offering undergraduate degrees in Medicine (MBBS) and Biomedical Sciences (BSc), as well as opportunities for foundation and postgraduate studies.

NUMed is currently accepting applications for the September intake of its Foundation in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, MBBS, and BSc Biomedical Sciences. For details, you may email admissions@newcastle.edu.my, call 07-555 3800, WhatsApp 011-1231 5411 or 012-7849456, or visit the NUMed website at www.ncl.ac.uk/numed.

published on: 21 August 2020