GEORGE TOWN: With costs of tertiary education escalating, more students are seeking cheaper but innovative ways to acquire a certificate and skills.

“This is where Wawasan Open University (WOU), with its distance learning concept and courses relevant for the modern job market, comes in,“ said WOU vice-chancellor and chief executive Prof Dr Lily Chan.

She added that WOU is expecting a higher student intake as it is generating more interest now.

WOU’s 10th convocation ceremony on Dec 7 and 8 will see 740 graduates receiving their scrolls - its highest number since its inception in 2006.

It has regional learning centres in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Kuching.

“We noticed a marked interest in our education system as conventional universities are getting expensive worldwide. Now, we see students willing to work and study rather than study first before working,“ said Chan.

Chan said that WOU is now excited to fill the gap for working adults keen on institutions which offer distance and flexible learning packages.

She said by the first quarter of next year, WOU is expected to unveil a new set of degree courses which are associated with the new set of jobs in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 era such as automation and the Internet of Things.

Its students can also expect to be offered internships within the first year of their academic programme.

Chan told a joint press conference with WOU Board of Governors chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon that the university was keen to develop new innovative programmes to meet the skills set needed for the modern workplace.

Koh said WOU inspires its students to become exemplary where it’s graduate pool age ranges from 22 to 76, while 59% of its graduates are females.

He also paid tribute to three grandmothers who would be graduating at the age of 76, 72 and 71 respectively, while there are also two disabled students, who received honorable mention - Belinda Chee Jin Wei and Tee Wei Ming.

Kamilia Tan Abdullah from Johor Baru is the oldest at 76 and she is graduating with a Commonwealth Executive MBA postgraduate degree.

She is joined by V. Mangayarkarasy, 71, and Wong Seow Chee, 72.

The top student who is the recipient of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Memorial Prize is Chay Foo Soon from Segamat in Johor, who holds five different degrees but specialises in education management.

Tan Jin Yong, 23, from Bukit Mertajam, is the winner of the Chancellor’s Gold Medal after earning a BA in Banking and Finance.

Another top student is Michelle Tan Cheng Hooi Hooi, from Tanjung Bungah, who is the recipient of the Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik Memorial Gold Prize.