Sharing ODL expertise with Maldives National University

(20-22 April 2016)

The Maldives National University (MNU) hopes to forge collaboration with WOU to further enhance its delivery of online higher education.

Exchanging name cards and getting acquainted.

Exchanging name cards and getting acquainted.

A four-member delegation from MNU led by Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Aishath Shaheen, held meetings with WOU senior management at the main campus from April 20th to 22nd. The delegation comprised Head of MNU’s Centre for Open Learning, Ramiz Ali, Senior Computer Technician Zaidh Ahmed Hussain, and Thinadhoo Campus Manager Mohamed Shameem Adam.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye presented an overview of WOU, highlighting that WOU currently offers 51 part-time open distance learning (ODL) and 6 on-campus learning (OCL) full-time programmes, out of which 35 are already fully accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

Prof Ho presents an overview of WOU.

Prof Ho presents an overview of WOU.

Aishath shared that MNU - formerly known as Maldives College of Higher Education and established in 1973 - became a national university in 2011.  The university receives 85% funding from the government and 15% from their courses. It has 11 faculties, including health sciences, engineering technology, arts, business, education, Islamic studies and Centre for Open Learning, and offers programmes from certificate to PhD levels. The annual graduate output is around 1, 200.

She elaborated that MNU has 4 campuses and 11 outreach centres spread across 15 islands besides the 11 campuses in the capital city of Male’.  In 2015, MNU had over 9,500 students and offered 170 plus courses. The university has already provided education of various levels to around 41,000 learners or more than 12% of the Maldives population.

Aishath shares about Maldives National University.

Aishath shares about Maldives National University.

Aishath said that they would like to collaborate with WOU to strengthen the delivery of their ODL programmes and in research.  MNU aims to improve the quality of its ODL teaching and learning processes through staff exchange and training. The university also wants to enhance its IT systems so that it can better support online learning.

She stated that MNU might also explore offering a joint degree with WOU to the Maldives population. She highlighted the growing acceptance of ODL as the appropriate mode for educating the population of Maldives distributed across the 198 inhabited islands. At present MNU is the only institution providing ODL in Maldives.

Discussion between the delegation and WOU management.

Discussion between the delegation and WOU management.

“We have to move to online learning if we want to stay ahead and to cater to the needs of students and employers. Our quality assurance framework has to be further improved. We need a planned effort where continuous checks on quality will happen consciously,” she added.

Aishath hoped this initial visit would pave the way for future collaborations, particularly the inking of a memorandum of understanding on ODL and on other initiatives, such as the joint delivery of programmes as well as staff development and tutor training by WOU.

Ramiz (centre) elaborates on the ODL students at MNU. On his left is Zaidh.

Ramiz (centre) elaborates on the ODL students at MNU. On his left is Zaidh.

Among the WOU senior management at the meetings with MNU were Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Madhulika Kaushik, Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong, Deans, and heads of relevant departments.

MNU, which started out as a conventional institution, commenced ODL in 2010. They have a student enrolment of about 1,200 every year and over 90% retention rate for their blended ODL programmes that run from six months to 4 years depending on the level of study.

Prof Ho presents a memento of the main campus building to Aishath.

Prof Ho presents a memento of the main campus building to Aishath.