Feature: Envisioning Quality - An Interview with Prof Mansor

By Dr Janet Woo Tai Kwan

PROF DR MANSOR FADZIL obtained his BSc (Mechanical Engineering) from Birmingham University (1981), and Masters (1982) and PhD in Control System Engineering (1985) from Sheffield University in the United Kingdom. He served at Universiti Malaya before leaving to join OUM. He is now OUM's Senior Vice-President. He sheds light on how OUM strives to produce quality graduates.

Dr Woo: How would you define "quality graduate"?

Prof Mansor: A quality graduate is someone who has undergone total, wholesome development. This person is mature, not only physically and mentally, but also spiritually and emotionally. The person has a good grasp of the subject matter he or she specialises in.

More importantly, he or she is very much in sync with current events in the world as well as the immediate surroundings. A quality graduate is open to change, new ideas and innovations.

He or she is a team player and an independent worker. A quality graduate is also both a good leader and a good follower - able to assume any position and rise to the occasion.

Dr Woo: Are there any special characteristics that an OUM graduate must have in order to be considered a quality graduate?

Prof Mansor: Essentially, a quality OUM graduate should have all the attributes I described earlier. Of course, he or she may not immediately possess all these qualities. That is where OUM plays its role.

Through education, we can mould our learners and raise them to a higher level. But most definitely, a quality OUM graduate must be an all-rounder - confident, knowledgeable as well as IT - and technologically-savvy. He or she must also be able to manage time well, communicate effectively, be persuasive when making presentations.

Dr Woo: In what ways are ODL graduates different from traditional university graduates?

Prof Mansor: Most ODL university students are working adults whereas most traditional university students are fresh school-leavers studying full-time. Many OUM learners, for example, hold full-time jobs and are pursuing higher qualifications to advance in their careers. They are very focused and their priority is to acquire relevant skills for their workplace.

This means they are clear about what they want and are all out to achieve specific goals. Consequently, our graduates are definitely on par with, if not better than, those from traditional universities. A quality OUM graduate is not only competent, determined and ambitious but also has staying power without which he or she will not succeed.

Dr Woo: What are OUM's strategies or efforts to produce quality graduates?

Prof Mansor: To answer this, we must look at what learners need in order to become quality graduates. Firstly, we try to provide our learners with a good study environment. We have well-equipped learning centres all over the country. Our tutors are carefully selected and regularly monitored to ensure that they give their best to help learners.

Quality tutors pave the way for quality learning. Of course, quality graduates can only come about when learners are provided with quality learning material. This is why OUM is upgrading its print modules and is constantly exploring ways to make teaching and learning more effective and engaging.

We also have in place a quality assessment system. In May this year, we introduced an alternative mode of assessment - MCQ (multiple choice questions). We hope to eventually migrate to this mode of assessment for 80% of our courses.

We do not just focus on academia. OUM prides itself on being a caring organisation. Our Centre for Student Management regularly checks on the progress of learners and organises activities to help them, for instance, by holding workshops on study skills for those who require such guidance.

Seminars and colloquiums are held several times a year to expose learners, tutors and facilitators to best practices from all over the world so that they, too, can strive to be world-class. In the pipeline is the setting up of a professional chair for e-learning. We hope to appoint a professor by next year.

We are now also looking into ways to encourage more research to advance teaching and learning. All these efforts are ongoing and geared towards ensuring that OUM produces top-notch, quality graduates.

Dr Woo: To what extent has OUM successfully produced quality graduates?

Prof Mansor: Based on feedback from tracer studies, the majority of our students are very happy with OUM. About 95% have said they would definitely recommend OUM to their friends. This is a sign that we are doing something right.

I would say that we have been very successful in producing quality graduates. The feedback that we get indicates most of our graduates perform on the job and are able to meet the expectations of employers. Many were promoted after completing their courses at OUM.

Dr Woo: As OUM continues to expand, can it hope to maintain quality as well? What are the checks and balances put in place to ensure sustainability?

Prof Mansor: OUM is thinking all the time about enhancing and sustaining its rapid expansion as well as maintaining the quality of its services. It is constantly exploring options to stay abreast of changes and move ahead with the times. Our advent into mobile learning is one example of this. In the final analysis, I would say that our quality graduates are our best advertisements. Our alumni can serve as OUM ambassadors and speak volumes as to the quality of our programmes.

Of course, certain checks and balances have been put in place by the institution. These include tracer studies conducted regularly to give us new input on ways to improve services, ongoing training to ensure that academic staff upgrade their skills, and open channels of communication between learners, academic staff and the top management of OUM.

Dr Woo: What message do you have for our tutors on the university's vision to produce quality graduates?

Prof Mansor: First of all, I would like to thank all tutors who have worked hard to help OUM reach the stage it is at today. We have done much and we have done well but more remains to be done. I would also like to remind them that our aim at OUM is to provide quality education to the people of this country.

To do this, we ourselves must be of quality - this means we should constantly strive to upgrade ourselves. Truly, learning never stops. Also, our salaries are paid by our learners, so we have to put them first. Make sure they have a wonderful experience at OUM and support them as much as you can in achieving their goals.

[ Back ]

In my opinion, the most important factor in producing quality OUM graduates is:

Tutors who are capable and motivated
Quality learning materials
A syllabus which integrates both theoretical and practical aspects of a subject
All of the above
View Result