Warwick students, studying abroad at Monash University Malaysia, are unable to return home due to their passports being held by the government.
(UPDATE: 19.03.2020 09:17): Warwick students can now return home from Malaysia and some passports have been returned
Advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states: “As of now, there are no restrictions on foreign nationals leaving Malaysia.”
The University of Warwick stated: “Some of the students have got their passports back and have flights booked and the others will also have soon. The Monash team are processing them as fast as they can in the short one hour window they have to act each day.”
(UPDATE: 18.03.2020 17:45): Warwick students detained indefinitely under Malaysia’s Movement Control Order
A copy of the government order sent by a student to The Boar stated that the National Security Council (NSC) of Malaysia has ordered that international students are “not allowed to return to their hometown/country of origin during the period Movement Control Command is enforced”, even if they have already purchased their transportation tickets.
A Warwick student told The Boar: “There’s a sizable group of Warwick students trapped in Malaysia because the government has our passports.
“Our passports were handed in to Monash Malaysia four or five weeks ago, who sent them to EMGS (Education Department), who sent them to the Immigration Department. They are still held by the government for VISA processing, but we don’t need that now.
“We have asked for them back since Monday and only 10 people have gotten them out of the 200+ exchanges here.
“British Consulate here have told different people to wait for documents to be returned as emergency documents can’t be issued as passports aren’t ‘lost’.”
A spokesperson for the University of Warwick stated: “Warwick’s Student Mobility team are in close contact with Monash colleagues who are working hard on retrieving those passports.”
The Malaysian government has since imposed a “Movement Control Order” until 31 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monash University has informed students not to go to campus. An email sent to exchange students stated: “If you try to come to campus you will be denied entry.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel abroad and has advised British nationals to return home.
In an email sent to students studying abroad, from the Politics and International Studies (PAIS) Director of External Affairs, Dr Trevor McCrisken stated: “Given the escalating situation with COVID-19, Warwick will offer all students currently on an outbound work or study placement the opportunity to repatriate to your home country should you wish to do so and safe travel is possible.
“Progression to your next academic year will be guaranteed should you decide to return home as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.”
Monash University Malaysia has been contacted for comment.