New be­gin­nings

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri

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

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