OUM makes higher education and attaining a paper qualification accessible to more

There is no excuse not to learn these days, when you can Google any information on your mobile devices. There is also no excuse not to pursue an education, when there are systems in place which allow one to attain qualification.

The Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) provides the opportunity for individuals with working experience, but lack formal academic qualifications, to pursue their studies at higher education institutions.

Open University Malaysia (OUM) is appointed by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) as a partner university in the implementation of APEL in Malaysia. It also plays an active role in the development of APEL policies in the country.

“OUM believes in democratising education which means allowing people to come in (study) regardless their background, age and where they are. We allow people who did not get the opportunity before to enter the system and study, whether it is for their self satisfaction or personal growth in the workplace,” said OUM deputy vice-president, Prof Dr Widad Othman.

“We often talk about experiential learning, and that is what APEL is. It means recognising every individual’s experience and with that, he or she can pursue a qualification. Many do not know about APEL, hence, we would like to explain what it is,” she said.

Through APEL, individuals with no “paper qualification” can put in their application for higher education and enrol for certificate, diploma, bachelor degree and master degree programmes. To be eligible, the professor explains that individuals must fulfil the entry criteria outlined by the Education Ministry and take the APEL assessment to determine their level of competency and capability.

She states further that candidates have to be above 20 years of age in the year of application for diploma programmes, 21 for bachelor degrees and 30 for master degrees. Those pursuing a master degree are required to have passed the STPM, diploma or A-Levels exams or the equivalent.

Adding on, OUM APEL Centre director, Dr Mohamad Afzhan Khan Mohamad Khalil said, “When a candidate applies for a programme, he or she will have to sit for an aptitude test which assesses their understanding of simple basic knowledge. The other important element is preparing a strong portfolio which shows all their formal, non-formal and informal experiences.

“The candidate has to provide information about where they have studied and worked before, and declare their language skills. They also have to state why they want to study and provide supporting references and evidence,” Afzhan said.

All OUM programmes are presented as part-time courses which make these possible for working adults to enrol into as they can still work and attend classes on weekends. Moreover, all learning materials are available online and students can access these anytime on their devices.

OUM also offers students the flexibility to plan their studies. For example, if a student has a lighter workload this semester, he can opt to take three courses and in the next semester, if he has many work projects at the office, he can choose to just take one course.

“Our students do not face any problems completing their programmes part-time. Initially, some may have some reservations but once they are in the system, they cope well. We do maintain our quality and assessment, and our learning materials are reviewed every five years, heeding MQA requirements strictly.

“We also incorporate our own style in delivering the programmes and you would be surprised to learn that many of our students return to take up their master and doctorate degrees. It shows that an education helps them improve and develop.

“We also have face-to-face tutors who deliver the weekend classes and e-tutors who handle all the online work and learning materials. We limit each class between 25 and 30 students, and provide all the support students need, including a forum that students can put forward their questions of which a tutor will respond within three days,” he informed.

Interestingly, there is another way APEL can be used as a ticket to reaching your education dreams and ambitions. For example, if you are interested to pursue a law degree but OUM does not offer that programme, you can put in an application for the APEL test through MQA and sit for it through OUM. MQA will award a certificate upon completion and with it, you can apply to any university which offers a law programme.

All these pathways make pursuing a higher education and attaining a paper qualification accessible to many more.

For more information, contact Accreditation of Prior Experiental Learning Centre (APEL Centre) via email at apel@oum.edu.my or call +603 - 2773 2556 / 2700/ 2786

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