The Roundtable of Vice-Chancellors and Heads of ODL institutions was held in Penang, Malaysia earlier this week. This is the fourth edition of the Roundtable organised by COL for senior leaders of ODL institutions. The Asia e University (AeU) partnered with COL in organising the event. About 30 leaders from 15 countries attended the event where the focus of the discussions centred on quality of higher education in the context of SDG’s.
Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of COL in her inaugural presentation, gave an overview of the issues and developments that have impacted education during Covid-19 while highlighting the benefits of the ODL paradigm. In a post-Covid era, there is a need for campus-based institutions to learn from the experience of ODL institutions alongside an increasing recognition of the role of universities in achieving SDG4.
At a panel on universities and SDG4 at the Roundtable, Professor Kanwar in her remarks highlighted the vulnerability of the education system in areas prone to natural disasters and how entire data structures can be wiped out. There is a need to build resilience further while contributing to environmental conservation. Examples of how universities are currently integrating these concerns using a transdisciplinary approach included the offering of an environmental literacy course that can be given credits across programmes. Some universities have adopted strict targets on carbon emissions and sustainable commuting.
Professor Ansary Ahmed, Vice Chancellor of AeU offered remarks at the inaugural session. Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, President, Academy of Sciences Malaysia, chaired a panel on ‘innovations during Covid-19’.