When it comes to self-improvement for a person’s career, education plays an influential step in enhancing this person’s skills, staying competitive and achieving one’s career and professional goals. Furthering one’s education at a university often brings this to mind – attending face-to-face lectures and tutorials; rushing to meet deadlines to complete assignments, presenting the work done individually or in groups; and sitting for exams. For working professionals who would have time, financial, family and other commitments, attending face-to-face lectures and tutorials may be a concern. For those who are interested in the MSc in Public Health, MSc in Molecular Medicine and MSc in Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the International Medical University (IMU) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working professionals with this concern have the option to pursue their studies with the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. This mode of learning provides flexibility and convenience for the student to schedule their studies around these obligations and around their lifestyle while receiving all the support and services available, the same as the on-campus students. This allows the student to plan and pace their own learning at a time and learning environment that is most suitable for the student. It also saves students from spending time travelling to the university, the costs of travelling to the university and the costs of staying near the university. Seeking such a convenience and flexibility from a MSc in Public Health programme, Dr Anuradha A/P Nadarajah, a doctor with a decade of working experience, choose to study at IMU as she wanted a degree from a well-established medical and health sciences university in order to progress in her career. Mohd Khamizi bin Aziz, a healthcare professional for 12 years, echoes her sentiment. He added, “I chose to study at IMU to enhance my knowledge in public health and contribute more to my workplace. Flexibility of the learning programme was also one of the attraction to study at this very experienced private university as I am normally extremely busy at work.” Khairunniza Binti Gharib agrees and added, “This programme is suitable for the working adult where there is a flexibility for us to plan our schedule to achieve work-life balance. I believe that the university provides quality education and the degree would provide me with good prospects for the future. With the knowledge gained from this degree, I intend to conduct projects to give back to the community.” Staying miles away from Kuala Lumpur in Penang is another student of the same cohort, Sheema Gunasegaram who intends to further her career in management or teaching or in an NGO. With less than a year working experience, she wanted to enhance her knowledge with a MSc in Public Health that is recognised by JPA while spending less on travelling expenses.
For these students who joined the University’s inaugural ODL intake on 10 September 2019, studying via open and distance learning at IMU has clearly provided them with an alternative to conventional programmes at universities, giving them the opportunity to earn a university degree without interrupting their career.