Presidents’ Forum

Advancing open and distance education: Reflections and future directions

30 Oct, 16:00-17:00

Introduction by Facilitator, Dr K S Yuen
The Open University of Hong Kong

Short presentations
Prof. Yuk-Shan Wong
The Open University of Hong Kong

Prof. Tian Belawati
Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia

Prof. Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye
Vice Chancellor and CEO
Wawasan Open University, Malaysia

Dr Chailerd Pichitpornchai
President of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University,

Questions and answers



Prof. Tian Belawati
Rector of Universitas Terbuka,

International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)

Prof. Tian Belawati has made significant professional contributions to open and distance learning (ODL) over the course of her career. She has extensive experience in research, teaching, and administration at a mega-university which serves over 500,000 students residing in Indonesia and overseas. Her work experience includes various positions within an ODL institution that serves diverse groups of students with different needs and circumstances. She started her academic life as a researcher with the Canadian Communication Consortium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Upon her return to Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia in 1996, she was appointed as Head of the Center for Indonesian Studies. Her leadership experience at the Center led to greater responsibilities as Vice Rector for Academic Affairs at UT. As Vice Rector she introduced innovations and good practices in the use of new technology for the delivery of ODL. Her two terms as Vice Rector, from 2001 to 2009, resulted in a new ODL platform in a developing country context through utilization of new and appropriate technology. She has introduced innovations, for example, through UT Online, including online tutorials, open educational resources (OERs), online examinations, a digital library, an integrated information system for learning materials development, and other ICT-based initiatives in teaching, learning and academic administration.

Prof. Belawati is currently Rector of UT. As Rector, she has taken decisive actions to mobilize efforts in partnership with stakeholders to improve the quality of ODL, develop greater public confidence in ODL, and establish collaborative efforts with international as well as regional ODL institutions and associations. She is extensively involved in various joint initiatives with other ODL players and organizations in her capacity as both an ODL researcher and top administrator. Prof. Belawati has also been active as Deputy Coordinator of the IDRC-funded collaborative research network PANdora (2004–2009) and Board member of PANdora Network (2010–present). Her professional achievements have led to appointments as Secretary General (2007–2009) and then President (2009–2010) of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). She has also served as a member of the Election Committee (2007–2009) and Executive Committee (2009–present), and now the President of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). In 2011, Prof. Belawati received the Meritorious Service Award from the AAOU, and in 2014 she received the Distinguished Individual Promoter Award from the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE).


Prof. Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye
Vice Chancellor and CEO,
Wawasan Open University


Prof. Ho is the Vice Chancellor and CEO of Wawasan Open University in Penang, Malaysia. He brings with him over 40 years of university teaching and research experience in both conventional and open distance learning modes. His current interests lie in the research and development of open education resources (OER) for application in online teaching and learning.

An aquatic ecologist by training, he received his BSc (Hons) and MSc from Universiti Malaya and obtained his Doctoral Degree for research done at the Max-Planck Institute and Kiel University in Germany.

He has taught in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for 28 years (1973–2001), rising to become Professor and Dean of its School of Biological Sciences. He played an active part in the development of USM’s off-campus programme in the early 1980s.

In 2000 Prof. Ho was seconded to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment to establish the National Oceanography Directorate. He served as its founding Director until 2006, spearheading, scoping out and seeking funds to fulfill the nation’s marine science research agenda.

He represented Malaysia in meetings of the Inter-Governmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO), the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Convention on Biodiversity. He also represented the East Asia region in the Scientific & Technical Review Panel of Ramsar Wetlands Convention Bureau, also served as Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Marine Science and Technology under the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology. He is a past Vice President of the Malaysian Nature Society, Council member of the Malaysian Society of Marine Science and member of the Board of Directors of Wetland International Malaysia, and the immediate past President of the Association of Open Universities (AAOU).


Dr. Chailerd Pichitpornchai
President of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University,

Associate Professor Dr. Chailerd Pichitpornchai earned his M.D. from the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand, in 1986, and has been appointed as the lecturer at the Department of Physiology of the Faculty since 1986. He earned a Ph.D. in Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Australia, in 1994, and a postdoctoral research fellow in Medical Informatics from Monash University in 1995. After returning back to Bangkok, he was appointed as the IT Director of Siriraj Computer Center and the Deputy Dean for Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital for 8 years before becoming the Assistant to the President for Policy and Informatics Technology, and IT Director, Division of Information Technology, Mahidol University.

Dr. Chailerd's specialties are (1) neurophysiology regarding learning and memory utilizing human brain waves recording, (2) medical education and psychology of learning, (3) Information And Communication Technology (ICT) especially in e-learning and Management Information System (MIS), and (4) management skills development (such as strategic planning, project management, risk management, change management, and team building). He is very fluent in many languages including Thai, English, Mandarin, and Tae-Chew (a Chinese dialect), with an introductory level of German, Japanese, Korean, and Pali-Sanskrit.

Dr. Chailerd has been the Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) Surveyor of the Commission of Higher Education (CHE) including inspecting STOU in 2010 and 2011 academic years, as well as the IQA of the ASEAN University Network (AUN) for several years. At the same time, he has been helping Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) in management and education development such as strategic planning, knowledge management, and e-learning, since 2004, he has been appointed as the President of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University since February 7, 2013.