(9-12 August 2010)
WOU hosted the CeMBA/PA Academic Board (AB) meeting from August 9-10 and the 9th Executive Governing Board (EGB) meeting from August 11-12 for the nine partner universities in the Commonwealth that offer the programmes.
Besides WOU, the other partner institutions are Open University Sri Lanka (OUSL), University of Guyana (UG), University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University College of the Caribbean (UCC), National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Bangladesh Open University (BOU), and Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Pakistan.
The AB meeting was attended by about 15 people; they were the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) president Sir John Daniel, COL Education Specialist Dr Willie Clark-Okah, WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng, and deans/heads of the respective faculty that offer the CeMBA/CeMPA programmes. The AB members provided a short update on their institutions including admissions, fees, delivery mode and mechanisms, market orientation, accreditation, and programme management.
During the EGB meeting, the Vice Chancellors from the nine partner universities joined in. The purpose of the AB and EGB meetings was to review curriculum matters and new directions for the CeMBA and CeMPA programmes. Sir John explained that the AB makes proposals which the EGB either accepts or modifies. He said revisions were needed to handle change and growth as the courses eventually become out-of-date.
Sir John found the outcome of the meetings to be very positive. “Member institutions agreed that the present organisational arrangements had taken the CeMBA/PA programmes as far as they could. It was time to put in new arrangements to ensure the sustainability of the programmes in the long-term,” he declared.
He said one major decision concerned the use of the term ‘Executive’; this initiative was driven by WOU which felt that the word associated CeMBA/CeMPA with short executive progrmames while in Africa the term projects a more positive image. . The meeting resolved to give institutions the prerogative to drop the term or continue to use it, taking into consideration their unique markets. He said universities will however not change the programme name for students already enrolled, even if they decide to drop the word ‘Executive’ in the future..
It was also decided to set up four sub-committees comprising the deans/heads of department of the partner institutions. One sub-committee would be tasked to develop criteria for admission of new partners to join the consortium. “We want to make sure that those joining are solid and can offer the programmes well,” he clarified, adding that the sub-committee is to be chaired by AIOU and comprise KNUST and WOU.
The second subcommittee will examine issues associated with offering the programmes online; it comprises NOUN as the chair, OUSL and UG. The third sub-committee, chaired by UCC and comprising BOU, UPNG and WOU, will look into the governance structure of the consortium. The fourth subcommittee is tasked to review and further develop the questions bank for the Commonwealth Executive Management Aptitude Test (CEMAT); it comprises WOU as the chair and AIOU.
Sir John remarked that in the past, COL took the lead in the coordination among the universities, but now he wants the members to take greater responsibility in formalising the procedures for appointing the Academic and Governing Boards.
He said that COL is also looking into a systematic continuous review, where members ask their faculty teaching the courses to comment regularly and COL will then pool this information to fix problems that emerge, and thus avoid the courses becoming outdated quickly.
The COL is an intergovernmental organisation established by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development of open learning and distance education throughout the Commonwealth countries via the sharing of resources, knowledge and technology.
CeMBA/CeMPA was developed by COL in 2002 in collaboration with AIOU, BOU and OUSL. In 2008, WOU became the first Malaysian university to offer both programmes to adult learners.