Distance Learning Developments in Malaysia

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // Distance education is a relatively new phenomenon in the Malaysian education scene. In its basic form it was introduced in 1971 when Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) established its Centre for Off–Campus Studies. In 1994, the Centre for Off–Campus Studies was renamed as the Centre for Distance Education. The Centre for Distance Education was upgraded in 1998 to School of Distance Education. From 1971 to 1989, USM is the only local university to offer courses through distance learning. // In 1990, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) started to introduce distance education in order to cater to the overwhelming demand for tertiary education. With branch campuses throughout the country, it was only natural for UiTM to introduce distance education. // In the period of 1993 – 2000, there was a significant increase in the number institutions that offer distance education. This came about as a result of the new policy of the Ministry of Education that encourages the introduction of distance education in Malaysian Universities. On 10th August 2000, the first Open University Malaysia (UNITEM) was officially established. With the establishment of UNITEM, distance education in Malaysia is set to grow at an even faster pace. // Its vision is to be a world class center of excellence in distance education. The mission of UNITEM is to contribute towards the development of a knowledge society through distance education using an appropriate state–of–the–art technology. // In line with its vision and mission, the objectives of establishing UNITEM are: // a) To meet higher education aspirations using flexible, accessible and affordable system // b) To provide life long learning opportunities, and // c) To help the government in the democratization of education. // In western countries, the establishment of Open Universities is seen mainly to cater for the need of matured or adult learners. In Malaysia, the target group is not just adult learners but also school leavers. This requirement arises as a result of heavy demand for places at public universities. Some of the school leavers who are unable to secure places at public universities may find the cost to further their studies overseas or private institutions rather prohibitive. As such Open University Malaysia provides an alternative channel for this group of school leavers. //