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Mount Saint Vincent to Partner with Open University Malaysia


Two Institutions Across the Globe, One Mission: Education for All

Representatives from the Mount and OUM gather for a photo during a recent visit.

The University of Mount Saint Vincent is excited to announce that it will be collaborating with Open University Malaysia (OUM) in an innovative new partnership. Together, the two universities will join forces to share students, resources, faculty members, and programs both old and new—creating a global exchange of information and sparking new ideas and objectives.

After a mutual professional administrator connected the two universities—understanding that the two institutions could work well together, sharing similar missions and a similar commitment to quality education—it was decided that leadership from both OUM and the Mount should meet to discuss the possibility of a new partnership.

From December 2 to 5, 2023 Mount representatives President Susan R. Burns, Provost and Dean of Faculty Lynne Bongiovanni, and Senior Executive Vice President and CFO Abed Elkeshk traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to join representatives from OUM in signing a mutual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU establishes and maintains a partnership of cooperation between the two universities, calling for the sharing of educational opportunities from one school to the other.

OUM is a private institution of higher learning established in 2000 under the Malaysia Private Higher Educational Institutions Act of 1996, owned and managed by UNITEM, a company incorporated under the laws of Malaysia.

From left to right: Dr. Susan Burns, Dr. Lynne Bongiovanni, and Abed Elkeshk engage in discussions about the new partnership at OUM.

Malaysia’s premier open and distance learning institution catering to over 25,000 students, OUM’s current approach features fully online learning. Almost every aspect of a student’s educational experience at OUM—from registration to final exams—takes place online. Both undergraduate and graduate students can access their coursework from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, or stop by any of OUM’s 35 in-person learning centers within Malaysia.

Operating under the motto “University for All,” OUM believes in the democratization of education, which gives everyone a chance to fulfill their potential and achieve self-actualisation.

Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s because OUM’s pedagogical philosophy aligns perfectly with the Mount’s!

“I was so impressed by the ways that the missions of the University of Mount Saint Vincent and Open University Malaysia align,” said Dr. Bongiovanni. “ Both institutions are committed to meeting learners where they are, and providing a high-quality affordable education to students of all ages. I look forward to introducing my colleagues to the wonderful faculty at OUM as we explore the exciting ways we can work together to benefit both universities and our students.”

The MOU, which is signed and contracted for an initial time period of three years, outlines several agreements between OUM and the Mount, including: facilitating the exchange of students; engaging in joint research, scholarly publications, and events; exchanging academic personnel for both teaching and research; and collaborating for dual degree programs.

Representatives from both the Mount and OUM sign the MOU.

“As the College transitions to the University of Mount Saint Vincent, we continue to prioritize and expand our international partnerships,” reflected Dr. Burns. “This new collaboration with OUM fits within the 2023-2025 Strategic Plan to enhance the Mount undergraduate experience through affordable and meaningful study abroad opportunities for students.”

The collaborative efforts will begin early in the new year, in time for the start of the Spring 2024 semester. Currently, OUM students will have the opportunity to take part in the Mount’s existing business and communication curricula. When those programs are off the ground and see success, the Mount plans to expand offerings to eager OUM learners.

OUM students will have the opportunity to participate in both in-person and virtual exchanges with the Mount, taking classes and completing their degrees online or finding a new home at our Riverdale campus.

The collaborative program is led by a team of talented administrators from both institutions, including the Mount representatives mentioned above and OUM representatives President and Vice Chancellor Ahmad Izanee Awang and Head of the International Partnership Unit May Yeong.

“During our discussions prior to signing the Memorandum of Understanding, senior leaders from both institutions affirmed our commitment to quality educational experiences for learners at the course and programmatic level,” Dr. Burns continued. “I was pleased to see that both of our institutions emphasize academic excellence that allows for personal and professional development for all learners, regardless of program or degree.”

Symbolic gifts were exchanged between the two institutions.

In this age of online learning, digital study experiences provide students with greater flexibility, accessibility, and convenience. Equally important, both the Mount and OUM are committed to maintaining the exceptional quality of their online programs—ensuring learners continue to receive transformational educational experiences no matter where they find their “classroom.”

“I find it truly fascinating how Mount Saint Vincent—a Catholic institution in New York—continues to find new ways to host students from all backgrounds, no matter their location, religion, or nationality,” Abed mentioned. “We’re simply carrying out the mission of the Sisters of Charity in their founding of the Mount over 175 years ago by offering a quality education to all those who join our community.”

We’re excited to share more information on this new partnership in the weeks to come—yet another fantastic development as part of our transition to the University of Mount Saint Vincent!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers a nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the University equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment, and leadership in the 21st century.