Open universities need to collaborate and learn from one another

WOU has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Universitas Terbuka Indonesia [UT (Indonesia Open University)], one of the world’s top 10 largest universities by enrolment, to solidify their partnership in advancing open distance learning (ODL) in Southeast Asia.

The MoU was formally signed at a ceremony coinciding with the visit of UT’s high-level delegation to WOU’s main campus on 12 May 2023. The UT delegation was led by Rector, Prof Dr Ojat Darojat, and comprised Head of Public Relations and International Partnerships, Dr Maya Maria; Dean of Faculty of Economics and Business, Dr Meirani Harsasi; Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr Kurnia Endah Riana; Vice Dean for Student Affairs and Partnerships, Ms Olivia Idrus; and lecturers from the Faculty of Economics and Business, Dr Halim Dedy Perdana and Dr Rini Dwiyani Hadiwidjaja.

Prof Ojat (seated 2nd from left) and Prof Chan (seated 2nd from right) putting their signatures on paper.

As part of the agreement, both institutions will engage in programmes to facilitate student and faculty exchange, besides exploring joint initiatives in research and development projects, academic and training programmes, and publication exchange. Additionally, it also establishes a framework for cooperation in potential consultancy and other technical services that will mutually benefit both parties.

During his speech, Prof Ojat, who is also President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), highlighted that approximately 300 students enrolled in UT’s bachelor degree programs are currently residing and working in Penang. He expressed his wish for these students to have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and enrol in courses offered by local institutions, such as WOU.

Prof Ojat addresses the audience before the signing of the agreement.

Prof Ojat provided an insight on the innovative “Kampus Merdeka” (Independent Campus) programme initiated by the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology that encourages students to pursue learning opportunities beyond their own universities.

“For example, it is possible for students in a bachelor’s degree programme to take 90 credits in their own university, and fulfil another 50 credits through courses from other universities locally or internationally,” he explained.

“We hope to provide similar opportunities for our students who are interested in pursuing their studies at WOU, so they can experience and assess their transition to other distance learning universities.”

Prof Ojat is optimistic that the partnership will elevate UT and WOU to greater heights through the sharing of best practices and development of various areas of cooperation.

Prof Chan and Prof Ojat with the signed agreement, flanked by Dr Meirasi (left) and Dr Dewi (right).

Earlier, WOU Chief Executive and Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Lily Chan welcomed the UT delegation with a quick tour of the Homestead Mansion, the venue of the signing ceremony.

In her welcome remarks, Prof Chan stressed the importance for open universities in Asia to work together.

She said, “ODL institutions throughout Asia cater to over 10 million students who otherwise would not have access to higher education. We need to collaborate and learn from one another.”

The Homestead Mansion provided the perfect backdrop to the auspicious occasion.

Key members from WOU including Director of Teaching and Learning, Assoc Prof Dr Dewi Binti Amat Sapuan; Dean of School of Technology and Engineering Science, Assoc Prof Ts Dr Sean Tan Koon Tatt; Dean of School of Business and Administration, Prakash V Arumugam; and Head of School of Digital Technology, Ts Dr Andrew Tan were also present. 

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