The University quadrangle was buzzing with energy yesterday as more than 3,700 new students were welcomed to a new academic year at the University of Malta. Alfred Vella, the University rector, told students who packed Sir Temi Zammit Hall how he was as excited as the new students since this was his first welcome speech as a rector.
Professor Vella has served as lecturer, Dean of the Science Faculty and as Head of the Chemistry Department, “but being here, talking to you as a rector feels pretty much the same as going to your first day at university.”
Speaking before the students, university lecturers and the Minister for Education at Sir Temi Zammit Hall, Prof Vella thanked Prof Juanito Camilleri, who had served as rector for the last 10 years and praised his tremendous contribution.
He presented the team of pro-rectors which he chose to help him run the University. Among the names, appears Godfrey Baldacchino who had run for the post of university rector himself.
“Our aim is for you students to have a productive number of years here at the cathedral of knowledge and learning so that you become mature individuals, equipped with the necessary competences to face the challenges of the world waiting for you outside.”
“The periods spent in these learning spaces with colleagues should be quality time which serves to build you up slowly but steadily so that, at the end of each day, you may possibly feel slightly exhausted but hopefully gratified because you’ve grown.”
He warned that university life is not successful if one is thought several complicated skills without having acquired the necessary communications skills. Prof Vella said he intends to promote a culture of formal and proper debate so that everyone has the opportunity to indulge in this practice.
Prof Vella said that it is essential for the students to read as much as possible and insisted on the need to focus on the communication growth both in writing and speaking, in both English and Maltese.
He announced that a scheme will be introduced to identify and assist those students who may need to improve their skills in written English. Quoting a national survey, he said that 56% of employers in Malta say that the main reason for finding it hard to fill in job vacancies, is the low number of required skills.
The total number of students at the University of Malta for this academic year is 12,101, of which 5,068 are male and 7,033 are female. More than 873 courses are offered on campus.
2,648 students will be sitting for an undergraduate course, while 1,141 will sit for postgraduate. Another 1,059 students will be joining Junior College to bring the total number of students this year for 2,140.
Photos by Michael Camilleri