WOU hosted the visit of a computer scientist from Fern Universitat (FernUni), Hagen, Germany to the main campus today to explore academic collaboration.
Prof Herwig Unger, Chair of the Department of Communication Networks, FernUni, and his wife, Prof Dr Panchalee Sukjit, are from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. They had meetings with WOU senior management, including Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye and Dean of School of Science & Technology (SST), Associate Prof Dr Wendy Bong Chin Wei.
According to Prof Unger, FernUni is the only distance learning university for the German-speaking people of Europe. It is Germany’s largest university with over 90,000 students, and offers a suite of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes entirely on a part-time basis. It has four faculties - Law; Business Administration & Economics; Humanities & Social Sciences; and Mathematics & Computer Science. A new Faculty of Engineering will be set up early next year. Established in 1974 and fully financed by the German government, FernUni offers free tertiary education to everyone.
Both WOU and FernUni have identified topics for joint research projects and will apply for research funding from organisations such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Another collaboration that was explored was the joint development and offering of courses in English for a Master’s programme. Prof Unger said that the DAAD provides grants to develop such bi-national study courses.
During his visit to WOU, Prof Unger delivered a public talk on ongoing research undertaken by his Department titled “Fully decentralised search engines: just a dream?” He spoke on developing new approaches to move away from big centralised web search engines like Google to find information in the worldwide web. He introduced the DocAnalyser, an open-source software for managing information on the net, which his Department aims to launch in October.
He said that the new and interactive web-based search application DocAnalyser “enables users to find similar and related web documents based on automatic query formulation and state-of-the-art search word extraction. It uses the locally displayed contents of currently visited webpages for this purpose. It reads and finds useful web documents for you.” Research to further enhance the search capability of the DocAnalyser is still ongoing.
Among the approximately 80 attendees were WOU Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Prof Ho and the academic staff and students from WOU, KDU, UTAR and USM.