Envisioning the Future of ODL

More than 200,000 learners and almost 91,000 graduates in 22 years as Malaysia’s premier open and distance learning (ODL) institution. Unsurprisingly, we at Open University Malaysia (OUM) are proud of these milestones. But the question that arises now is: what’s next?

Having just taken over the reins as OUM’s fourth President/Vice-Chancellor on 1 February, I know that answering this question will not be easy. Certainly, we want to go farther and accomplish even more. As the leader of this university, it is now my responsibility to find ways to make that happen.

First among these ways involves expansion. While OUM is already well-known locally as the practical choice for flexible part-time studies among working adults, I believe there is opportunity to go beyond Malaysian shores.

So, while we have already partnered with 13 higher education institutions in 10 countries, OUM’s influence internationally can be further strengthened. In particular, I believe we could establish a presence in Central Asia, where according to UNESCO there is a need to expand learning pathways and forms of access to education.

At home, I hope to also expand OUM’s industry linkages. Currently, several programmes come with certifications from Sirim, CPA Australia, and Malaysia Board of Technologists, while others are recognised by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Malaysian Nursing Board and Malaysian Counselling Board.

Previously, we also collaborated with the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia to conduct online financial services examinations.

Moving ahead, we will continue to enhance the value of our programmes with additional credentials that will allow graduates to showcase their specific knowledge and skills in different career settings. At the same time, offering these certifications will help ensure that OUM programmes are up-to-date and aligned with the latest industry standards.

In a world without borders, I also plan to strengthen our bond with other open universities around the world, such as Korea National Open University (South Korea), Universitas Terbuka (Indonesia), and the Open University (United Kingdom). This could pave the way towards the sharing of experiences and expertise, and also adoption of academic best practices that could directly benefit our programmes and learners.

With our established expertise in e-learning, I hope to promote OUM’s capacity in content and learning management system development, and other crucial aspects of online delivery. This will be a way for us to encourage knowledge-sharing and explore ways to collaborate with other institutions, both locally and abroad.

Prospective learners can look forward to updates in programme offering as well. We will introduce new programmes in up-and-coming disciplines with competitive professional value, including some of the most in-demand qualifications listed by Jobstreet in 2021, such as cybersecurity, app development, digital marketing, and financial management.

These are just some potential options that can keep OUM relevant, and ensure that our learners are on their best footing when they graduate.

Finally, I hope to assure current learners that they can continue to expect the best from OUM. Because they are located throughout the country and globally too, and with the continued emphasis on fully online learning, we will work on enhancing the relevant support services to ensure round-the-clock accessibility, user-friendliness, and a worry-free study experience.

At OUM, no learner needs to feel helpless or alone: be rest assured that you will have everything you need to thrive and succeed.


By Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Izanee Awang, President/Vice-Chancellor