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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stuck in expensive London, hundreds of Malaysians worry after law exams called off

A man walks past a sign in London advising people to stay at home as the government attempts to contain the Covid-19 crisis. (Reuters pic)
LONDON: More than 400 Malaysian law students in London have been left in limbo after a crucial examination was postponed for some three months due to the Covid-19 crisis, with many worried about the huge financial burden of living in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
This comes after the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the body which regulates training for barristers in England and Wales, cancelled the bar examination initially scheduled for next month.
It has not announced a specific new date.
A total of 402 Malaysian students had been preparing for the exam since September.
Among them is Jonathan Khoo from the City Law School, one of London’s major law schools.
“This whole situation has been a roller-coaster of emotions as the situation in the UK has worsened to the point that our centralised exams have been cancelled,” said Khoo.
When contacted, a BSB spokesman said it had not been able to give a new date for the exam.
“We will do our best to ensure that students have sufficient opportunities to take the examination under suitable conditions.”
Putrajaya has advised Malaysian students in the US and UK to return home, fearing extensions of lockdowns in these countries.
The UK government has declared a partial lockdown as authorities battle the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, with millions told to stay indoors except for critical tasks.
Britain has recorded more than 1,400 deaths, with more than 22,000 warded.
The Home Office says foreign students can apply to convert their student visa to a general worker visa.
But there are other concerns for Malaysian students, chiefly on living costs and accommodation as they extend their stay.
Sabahan Sheena Marcus’s tenancy will end in August.
“If I have an issue with the extension of my visa, I will not get a letter stating that I’m here for at least 12 further months, so I would probably struggle looking for a short-term lease,” she said.
Many students are concerned about the cost of staying in the city.
“I am not sure I can afford to stay here any longer. I had to pay £18,000 (RM96,000) for this course and living in London requires a hefty amount,” said a Malaysian student taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at City Law School.
Many universities offering the BPTC have already moved their teaching sessions online.
Students are now appealing for the bar exam to be conducted online as well.
“It is essential that the BSB considers not just the regulatory impact of Covid-19 on the bar, but also its human impact, and this requires it to make adjustments to the format of the exams,” said a petition to BSB by 201 law students.
  • Jean-Baptiste Andrieux is a journalism student at City, University of London. - FMT

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