WHS: Online training as a revenue model for academic institutions

download-150x98In light of the increasing use of information and communications technology (ICT), the focus globally has shifted to the massive opportunities in bringing Halal education online.

In opening the third session of the Academics Forum, World Halal Summit (WHS) 2015 held here at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, moderator Rafi-uddin Shikoh, Founder and Managing Director of DinarStandard (USA) began with the simple maxim: “Knowledge is power”.

In the context of training, Rafi-uddin noted that without the right knowledge, businesses and industry sectors as well as human capital could not progress. By way of illustration, Sameer Hassan, Business Director of Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance (UAE), gave an overview of his company, which provides online Islamic Finance training.

“We created a 100 per cent online training solution which is self-paced, so no matter who you are or where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection, curiosity and a willingness to learn, you can receive rapid training that results in professional certification,” said Sameer.

As Ethica is designed by practitioners and is scholar-accredited, it is considered a complete learning resource that appeals to individuals as well as institutions looking to train their employees.

Since the students or participants are not confined to the size and physicality of the classroom, online education transcends borders, and for large corporations, it is highly cost-efficient.

“By investing in your human capital with training, you can improve your bottom line,” said Sameer. “We are offering training people within the Islamic Banking industry, with a reach to over 160 financial institutions worldwide. And we ensured that it adheres to high standards and leveraged on experts to make the materials engaging and interesting.”

Zubair Moghal, Owner of the Halal Research Council, Al Huda CIBE, Pakistan explained that they had a look at the Halal industry requirements and have introduced a postgraduate programme based entirely online.

“As the Halal industry has very diversified topics, it took us two years to cover all the silos of the industry,” explained Zubair. “But we must admit that Halal training, be it online or offline, is definitely lacking behind Islamic Banking. Only a handful of universities offer Masters level programmes, and these are mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

Prof. Dr. Faridah Hassan, Director, iHalal Management and Science, UiTM, Malaysia explained that her university, the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), do offer traditional, online and blended learning that allows for classes to be online with up to two face-to-face meetings at the beginning and at the end of the course, to consolidate the knowledge.

“By using the i-Learn portal, students can access the materials on their mobile phone, wherever they are,” Dr. Faridah said.

To ensure immersion and engage-ability, Zubair said that they also offer live online lectures. Sameer also stressed that the courses need to be interactive and of high quality.

“We found that people also want internship and work experience opportunities in the industry in order for all the knowledge to converge and make sense. This is something to keep in mind,” Zubair remarked.

On Halal-related issues and the potential challenges that could be faced, Dr. Faridah opined that matters such as differing interpretations by mazhabs, for example, can be sensitive.

“I would suggest for developers to develop modules for the region you are in. Once you go further, the content has to be generic enough to apply to everyone,” she said.

Sameer concurs. “There is no easy answer, as this is a challenge that we are also facing. It is definitely an area that needs to be resolved.”