FOR 10 years, Wawasan Open University has provided over 19,000 people the chance to study through its Open Distance Learning (ODL) programme. Having received two major awards from the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in 2013 – the Award of Excellence for Institutional Achievement and the Award of Excellence for Distance Education Materials, WOU's programmes not only meet the standards of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Higher Education Ministry, but standards of relevant professional bodies including CIMA, Institute Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), CPA Australia, ACCA and the Malaysian Institute of Accounting (MIA). Dubbed as Malaysia's first private, not-for-profit, open distance learning institution, WOU uses flexible approaches to make higher education accessible to all – anytime, anywhere. In an email interview, WOU Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong explains more about the university's programmes and plans. How does WOU make quality education affordable? To date, some 19,000 ODL students have experienced the flexible learning opportunities provided by WOU. Not only are our courses comparatively priced lower, it is made more affordable as students only pay for the courses they take each semester without needing to fork out a lump sum payment at the start of their studies. WOU has put in place a substantial set of incentives to provide financial assistance to new students and also to students who exhibit academic excellence. WOU has introduced several attractive financial incentives, including the WEF Study Grant, Return to Study Allowance (RTSA), Valued Partnership Programme benefits for employees of partner companies/MNCs, as well as other rebates for our ODL students. For full-time On Campus Learning (OCL) students, we offer scholarships in the form of rebates, bursary awards and monthly living allowances throughout the duration of their study. How are WOU programmes different from those offered by other universities? WOU currently offers more than 55 part-time ODL and fulltime OCL programmes. Its programmes are pegged at various levels of study, ranging from Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The areas of study include accounting, banking, management, logistics, marketing, construction management, electronics, public administration, primary studies, telecommunications, multimedia design, English studies, liberal studies and psychology. Aside from the degrees, what else do the ODL and OCL students gain from studying in WOU? The ODL students gain soft skills, critical thinking, analysing ability, life skills and are able to immediately apply what they learn to the workplace. Another advantage is that they are able to network and learn from the real-life experience of their course mates who come from diverse occupational backgrounds. Meanwhile, the full-time OCL students learn real-job skills during their industrial training where some of them are even promised jobs once they graduate during their internship. They also learn discipline, management, teamwork, communication and organising skills. What are WOU's plans for the next five years? For the next few years, WOU will be concentrating on expanding its products and markets both locally and internationally. The university is expected to launch a couple of new degree programmes for part-time studies and those who are pursuing full-time studies can also expect more choices for their selection. WOU will offer its accredited programmes and well developed ODL courses to learners overseas through collaboration cum business arrangement, such as joint programme or course offerings, and licensing of courseware. We are now negotiating with ODL institutions in countries like Botswana, Ghana, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria, India, Germany, the UK and Southeast Asia. This development bodes well for WOU as it reflects the confidence and trust these foreign institutions have on WOU.