Following Lovin Malta’s report on the number of students, or lack thereof, enrolled in the American University of Malta’s campus in Bormla, there has been a renewed interest in the proposed development on ODZ land at Zonqor Point in Marsascala.
The motion would reverse the deal with Sadeen Group, and give the land designated for the AUM’s Zonqor Campus back to the Maltese people. The motion proposed that the land could become part of the Inwadar National Park.
The motion was presented to Speaker Anglu Farrugia by PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs David Agius, flanked by PN spokesman for the Environment Karol Aquilina as well as deputy whip for the opposition Frederick Azzopardi, Tuesday morning.
Both Mr Agius and Mr Aquilina said the development on virgin land was not necessary as this private institution had failed to attract the high number of students promised by the Sadeen Group.
Their motion also pointed out that the Sadeen Group had projected enrolling 1,000 students a year at the AUM, but had now decreased that number to 300 a year.
Mr Aquilina said the resulting situation is now very different than that which was proposed, with only 15 students undertaking studies, and that it is finding it very hard to attract students to the university.
Mr Aquilina even quipped that “the current AUM student population is even less than a private lesson,” and reiterated that he didn’t “believe that the virgin land in Zonqor should be given to the Sadeen group for such a speculative scope.”
Mr Agius said that all “Maltese people should be able to enjoy the land in its natural state.”
The PN’s motion was supported by environmental groups like Front Harsien ODZ, Friends of the Earth, and Ramblers Association Malta, as well as local farmers.
While Speaker Anglu Farrugia said that motions like this from a strong Opposition were important in a democracy, the Labour party itself responded to the motion by calling it ‘premature‘.
They said that the Nationalist opposition remained hijacked by ‘negative elements’, even on the ‘first working day of the new year’.
They said that the Zonqor area would only be used once the Bormla project had grown as projected and the campus needed to expand, which hadn’t happened yet.
They also said that the AUM had passed through a ‘meticulous and very hard process’ to become licensed in Malta.
Partit Demokratiku also entered the discussion by saying that now was the time for a plan to create a national park bordering the coast in the south of Malta. They said that the government itself had proposed such a plan in 2015, but had seemingly abandoned the Inwadar park before it was complete.