Open and Distance Education Systems: do they enhance Graduates’ Soft Skills? The results from 2009 Universitas Terbuka Tracer Study
The vision and mission of Universitas Terbuka (UT) is to become a highly qualified open and distance education institution and to provide higher education access to all communities. Graduates of UT are expected to acquire adequate knowledge, hard skills and soft skills. Soft skills play important roles in the world of work. The aim of this article is to describe: (1) whether the open and distance education systems are capable of providing graduates with soft skills, (2) how soft skills are acquired during the period of study, and (3) how are the range of soft skills acquired by graduates and required by stakeholders at work. This article uses 2009 UT tracer study, which employed survey and in-depth interviews to selected respondents and stakeholders. 2.417 pairs data (graduates and stakeholders) were analysed. The rating scales were from 1 (very poor) to 4 (excellent). The attributes analysed were personal, interpersonal and situational skills. The results show that learning systems that are based on individual learning and tutorial did provide graduates with soft skills. Graduates and stakeholders perceived interpersonal skills as fair. In general, soft skills required at work were time management, self-confidence, problem solving, creativity and team-work.