Univer­sity of Malta Fresh­ers’ Week kicks off

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

To­day marks the launch of Fresh­ers’ Week at the Univer­sity of Malta, as new Rec­tor Al­fred Vella will de­liver his first Fresh­ers’ week speech, as rec­tor, to the stu­dents.

The doors will open for Univer­sity stu­dents at 8.45am to­day. Stu­dents will get to meet their fel­low class­mates for the first time, learn about their courses, will pre­pare for the year ahead, and hold meet­ings with lec­tur­ers and fac­ulty.

All Univer­sity stu­dents and staff are also in­vited to the In­au­gu­ra­tion Mass for Aca­demic Year 2016-17 which will be held at 12:30pm at the Univer­sity Chapel. Arch­bishop Charles Sci­cluna, will cel­e­brate the Mass.

Pro­fes­sor Al­fred Vella, who held the post of pro-rec­tor prior to his new ap­point­ment, was in­ter­viewed by The Malta In­de­pen­dent last Fe­bru­ary.

He had in­di­cated that he would fol­low in the foot­steps of his pre­de­ces­sor in a num­ber of as­pects.

“We are al­ready mak­ing the univer­sity more ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple, and are im­ple­ment­ing more mea­sures for non-tra­di­tional stu­dents such as those who work and can only study dur­ing the evenings or per­haps on­line. We have re­cently in­tro­duced a lib­eral arts and sciences programme that al­lows stu­dents to choose from a wide va­ri­ety of study mod­ules with­out the need for any con­nec­tion be­tween them: this is just one way that peo­ple could use the univer­sity to en­rich their knowl­edge, es­pe­cially when they’re not in­ter­ested in read­ing for a full de­gree or di­ploma”.

He spoke of the need to find a bet­ter way to en­cour­age in­di­vid­u­als who have never been to univer­sity to con­sider do­ing so, pos­si­bly build­ing on the skills and com­pe­tences that may have been ac­quired at their place of work or in other ways.

“We must also im­prove and con­sol­i­date the bridges be­tween aca­demic and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion,” he had said.

The whole con­tro­versy re­gard­ing the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Malta was also a hot topic dis­cussed in the press over this year.

The Rec­tor, speak­ing about the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Malta, had pre­vi­ously told this news­room: “I have no prob­lem with other ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions com­ing to Malta al­low­ing govern­ment to earn rev­enue.

“In­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion is big busi­ness, but the UoM has its hands tied since it can’t re­ally com­pete for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the near field, see­ing that we can­not charge any fees for EU stu­dents. How can you mar­ket your­self un­der these con­di­tions? That apart, I don’t think the In­sti­tute will be a threat to the UoM, as it is un­likely to sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­ence neg­a­tively our stu­dent base”.

Univer­sity lec­tur­ers tend to make their voices heard when a mat­ter of na­tional im­por­tance arises, and this past year has not been dif­fer­ent. Re­cently, sev­eral Univer­sity lec­tur­ers, in­clud­ing Pro­fes­sor Kevin Aquilina (Dean of the Fac­ulty of Law), signed an open let­ter to the Prime Min­is­ter, headed by Flimkien ghal Am­b­jent

Ah­jar, call­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter to act in favour of Malta’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing environment and qual­ity of life.

The let­ter, took aim at pol­lu­tion, the destruc­tion of her­itage and land­scapes, lack of en­force­ment, in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment, high-rise de­vel­op­ments and sev­eral other is­sues.

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