This Saturday and Sunday, Open University Malaysia (OUM) will once again be celebrating the graduation of our learners.

At the 23rd Convocation, to be held at Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, we will witness the graduation of more than 3,300 learners across various disciplines from diploma to PhD. Cumulatively, this convocation will bring the University’s cumulative graduates to over 85,000 since our first convocation in 2004.

Since our establishment in 2000, our vision has always been to be the university of choice among working adults in Malaysia and beyond. By leveraging accessible and flexible modes of learning, we strive to provide access to affordable higher education for everyone, regardless of age, creed, background or location.

Our graduates are a diverse group of individuals, including celebrities such as Soo Wincci and Vanidah Imran, as well as professionals, entrepreneurs, teachers, civil servants, uniformed personnel and even prison inmates.

Inspired by our institutional emphasis on democratisation and learner-centredness, we have also provided the means for senior citizens, those in remote areas and the physically disabled to also make their higher education aspirations a reality. We have disbursed scholarships worth more than RM3.7 million to deserving learners since the scheme was introduced in 2007.

Convocations are a time-honoured tradition for any higher education institution. For OUM, this event gives the university a chance to celebrate learner success and demonstrate our capacity to produce quality graduates equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in a demanding job market.

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming stated that graduates should meet the minimum bar of employability, which involves the following characteristics:

  • An ability to communicate clearly;
  • A basic understanding of concepts and how to apply them to the real world;
  • An ability to absorb and process information in the workplace; and
  • An ability to write and produce output that is understandable.

I am confident that OUM graduates have what it takes to meet these criteria. Their achievements reflect our institutional quality, which I believe can be measured in various ways. One example is a recent tracer study that revealed a high number of graduates believe their study experience has taught them to be more confident, self-reliant and better problem-solvers and decision-makers. In addition, they assert to have become more effective communicators and that the programmes have enhanced their performance at the workplace.

These are crucial findings as the majority of OUM graduates are working adults who have completed their studies on a part-time basis. Unique to open and distance learning (ODL), the work-and-study arrangement is ideal for learners to immediately apply knowledge gained in the classroom to their workplace.

In addition, ODL graduates are better able to analyse new information to complement their prior knowledge and experiences.

For OUM, the 23rd Convocation will take place at the cusp of our 20th year in operation. As we edge closer to our third decade, we will continue to do our level best to cater to all our learners. Moving forward, we will strive to provide a more well-rounded experience with the incorporation of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) components as well as soft skills elements to complement formal academic curricula.

This will ensure that OUM graduates for the years to come will be best prepared for an ever-evolving and challenging employment landscape.

Prof Dato’ Dr Mansor Fadzil
Open University Malaysia