Championing flexibility, embracing change

In a survey conducted last year, 70% of learners said they chose to enrol with Open University Malaysia (OUM) because of the flexibility that we offer.

Clearly, flexibility is a very big part of OUM. Over this last year, we have strived to continue offering the best in flexibility to our learners, in ways that will not only make for a better study experience, but also those that are in tune with the changes happening around us.

New partnerships forged with Wanita Berdaya Selangor (WBS) and the Malaysian Army in March and August, respectively, hopes to make open and distance learning (ODL) even more widely available to all. With these newly inked agreements, women under the WBS banner and officers from the Royal Signals Regiment received scholarships to enrol in diploma and bachelor’s degree programmes at OUM.

Meanwhile, the International Conference on Education held virtually in September provided a special platform for ODL experts, professionals, scholars, and learners to deliberate key issues on the importance of digital transformation in education. Ideas shared at the conference are likely to make an impact not only at OUM, but other open universities around the world.

In late September, we congratulated more than 4,300 of our learners who graduated this year. Covid-19 restrictions prevented us from hosting a full-fledged ceremony for them, and although this is a disappointment to many, it is only a temporary one. We plan to hold a special convocation for the affected graduates next year to give them a chance to celebrate their achievement.

Having said that, today’s challenges go beyond the cancellation of plans and activities. Thus, in addition to our focus on flexibility, we have also lent a helping hand to those around us. Through the Centre for Learner Affairs, we have disbursed more than RM100,000 in aid to learners and their families who faced personal tragedies this year.

Meanwhile, learning centre staff around the country reached out to local communities, as was done by Taiping Learning Centre, which gave out supplies to the needy in July, and Sibu Learning Centre, which distributed food baskets in September.

This year, we have also extended the reach of our flexible online learning approach to non-Malaysian learners. By opening up enrolment to more than 20 postgraduate programmes internationally, virtually anyone from anywhere in the world can opt to study at OUM. Learners from Zimbabwe, Yemen, Syria, France, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries have already signed up, thus lending a truly international flavour to our community.

Finally, as a means to improve operational efficiency, the academic clusters at OUM have been rebranded as faculties beginning 1 December. They will now be known as the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, and Faculty of Business and Management.

Now, as we stand at the cusp of 2022, the advice of leadership guru Simon Sinek is one that best encapsulates what we hope to achieve in the near future. Sinek says we should not wait for change to happen. Instead, we should grab the bull by the horns and decide for ourselves what our future should be.

The future is up to us. And at OUM, that future will certainly hinge on flexibility.