Open University Malaysia goes international

With a delivery system based primarily on Information and Communications Technology, the Open University Malaysia (OUM) has ventured into the international arena.

The first university in Malaysia to provide courses entirely via open and distance learning, OUM has not only managed to attract individual international students, but also provided consultancy and training services on e-learning to countries like Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.

Said OUM President and Vice-Chancellor Tan Sri Anuwar Ali: 'OUM has been mindful of the fact that international cooperation is seen as an instrument for capacity building, for finding new ways to manage open and distance learning in higher education, as well as for testing new or established practices in many aspects of teaching, consultancy and research.'

With that in mind, the seven-year-old Kuala Lumpur-based institution recently launched OUM International as its brand name and focus point for its international endeavours.

'OUM International is the reference point for all international contacts with OUM as well as the unit responsible for the conceptualisation of projects to meet the needs of international clients,' explained Prof Anuwar.

OUM International was officially launched by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

In his speech, the minister said: ''Borderless education' has become a new buzzword amongst educators, and as such, universities in recent years have expanded their international reach. It is reasonable to conclude that such expansion has changed society's perception of academia and at the same time, encouraged the university to have a new outlook about itself.'

Khaled added that for internationalisation to be meaningful, it should not only be seen as a set of activities catering for international clients, but also a process of integration in all spheres of university management so that the institution is internationally oriented in all its operating procedures.

'I believe that by going international, a university can maintain and benchmark its competitiveness and at the end of the day, achieve international standards and become a respected global player.'

According to Prof Anuwar, OUM has established partnerships with the Arab Open University in Bahrain, the University of Science and Technology in Yemen and Universitas Riau, Indonesia, to offer postgraduate degrees. The university will soon be offering undergraduate, Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and competency-based certificate courses in collaboration with local partners in Vietnam and the Maldives.