It is undeniable to say that this pandemic is indeed affecting crucial and large sectors in the country, hence the education sector is no exception.

Therefore, the roles and functions of universities as the center of academic and skills platform, are right now being questioned. Doubts about the value of a higher education degree have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, being questioned again when the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading over the world without bounds.

The World Economic Forum in one of its articles mentioned, that one of the core reasons why students enroll in universities is to access the actual and full college experience which is, primarily; socialize.

Social gatherings, involvement in clubs and organizations in the university are the inner core of a university experience. Hence, questions arise as to what is the value of university life without social bonds. In the same article, the World Economic Forum also stated how this pandemic creates unanswered questions; Does COVID-19 mean that universities will shrink, collapse, or implode?

Thus, this is what brings us to rethink the core reason regarding the purpose of the university institution establishment. Without denying at all the importance of social interaction and students’ involvement in any field, I think that it is such a personal purpose and preferences as an increased add-on value among students themselves.

By rethinking the core purpose of the university, we would find out that a university is a place that leads knowledge to be more germinated, the empowerment for the concepts of ta’alim (teaching) and ta’dib (educating), like what has been mentioned about a group of Al Attas that the university is the most architectonic and strategic place to educate and train oneself as well as the community.

University also plays a role in cultivating manners and morals that are mannerliness (courtesy) and also enhance the skills. That, if well refined, shows that the functions and roles of the institutions of the university are still relevant even in any situation. Indeed, the university is a place where thinking becomes refined and approaches far more critical, mature and sophisticated.

If the students fulfill the context stated as the actual function and role of the university, I believe that survival as a university student can be continued, even without a physical presence, but with a living spirit to interpret university life literally.

Even without our physical presence in the university, the process of gaining knowledge and absorbing knowledge is still unlimited and have no bound, because intellectual strength does not require where we are, but what action do we take.

This pandemic is actually such a benchmark for us to see the results and effectiveness of the learning process at universities previously, such as self-leadership at home, emotional management, and nurturing manners that can be seen through online lecture sessions.

We are all working hard to get a degree-scroll and make it done well. We may doubt our capabilities since everything runs online, but we should realize and bear in mind, that it’s become a must for us to prepare ourselves for all kinds of challenges ahead, and be getting ready to tackle the most constantly changing world.

The constraints around us should not necessarily make our thoughts looks alike small shrinkage, instead, difficulties and pain should be the cause of our thoughts growing and sprouting. The university’s agenda, however, will always continue and keep on going.

Sub-Editor Nadi Mahasiswa Malaysia,
National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students (PKPIM).

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