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OUM-Transforming Higher Education In Malaysia

Last update: 17/06/2011
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President / Vice Chancellor of OUM Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, spoke about the convocation and the new campus on an interview recently. Pic: Ahmad Iskandar
By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 (Bernama) -- At Open University Malaysia's (OUM) 10th convocation from 18-23 June, 4,300 (OUM) undergraduates will receive their scrolls.

Although merely a decade old, OUM has reached out to 90,000 students, including 30,000 who have graduated from its 70 academic programmes.

OUM pioneered the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programme in Malaysia, which transformed the higher-education landscape in the country for the better. Previously, opportunities for higher education were available only to school-leavers and full-time students.

Now, anyone fulfilling the basic joining requirements, regardless of age or background, can earn a degree at their convenience. ODL offers a flexible approach for those who wish to obtain a degree and improve their prospects in the job market.


Malaysia will require 3.3 million skilled workers in the next ten years, if it is to achieve its vision of becoming a developed, high-income nation.

Unlike other institutions of higher-learning, which have a fixed intake of students each year, OUM has a flexible intake and wide outreach, allowing it to train larger numbers of competent and skilled workers.

OUM's President/Vice Chancellor Professor Emeritus, Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, spoke about OUM's role in helping people gain knowledge, and the nation achieve its goals.

"We are talking about creating opportunities for those who have constraints, but are eager to pursue their studies. We make their wish come true," he said.

OUM's programmes also accept the disabled and the elderly, as well as students who already have a degree. In a nutshell, they promote lifelong learning.

The university draws on the resources of the Internet to impart knowledge and provide support-services.

Students can thus access the Tan Sri Dr Abdullah Sanusi Digital Library, and its MyVLE (Virtual Learning Environment), an online learning platform that allows them to participate in online discussions with tutors and peers, at their convenience.

OUM was started in August 2000 with 753 students and four academic programmes. Within a decade, the long-distance learning university has established itself as a reputed educational institution, and expanded to other countries like Yemen, Bahrain, Maldives, Ghana, Hungary and Sri Lanka.

The average age of those graduating from OUM is between 33 and 34 years old.


Despite its success, OUM continuously explores ways to serve its students better. It has committed to building its own learning centres or partner institutions, instead of renting spaces.

Currently, it has a few such centres in Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, and the most recent one in Bangi. OUM is also planning to build such centres in other states such as Johor, Kedah and Terengganu.

OUM gives Malaysians the opportunity to partake in its lifelong learning process, and fulfill the country's Vision 2020.


OUM is now working jointly with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), to organise the International Conference on Lifelong Learning 2011 (ICLLL 2011). The conference will be held from 14-15 Nov, at Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

"This conference is a platform for us to emphasise the idea of lifelong learning among members of the public," said Anuwar.

With the theme, 'Transforming Nations through Enculturation of Lifelong Learning', the event will have important figures from the industry as keynote speakers. They include Sir John Daniel, President & CEO of Commonwealth of Learning, Prof Dr Arne Carlsen, Chairman of ASEM - Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning.

The conference will touch on various facets of the development of a lifelong learning culture. These include the foundation, the role of lifelong learning in national development, policies and implementation.