In the wake of sharp criticism by Malta’s Education Minister, the fledgling American University of Malta has insisted its student enrolment rate is typical of start-up universities all over the world.
“AUM’s enrolment is typical of new start-up universities around the world,” the fledgling university’s president Lewis Walker told Lovin Malta. “Somehow, an image of enrolment occurring much more quickly was created, and against that expectation it looks like AUM is not doing well.”
“In fact, the development of the university is progressing and enrolment is growing. New universities have to develop enrolment over a period of time in the start-up phase, as AUM is doing. Future prospects for enrolment at AUM are good.”
Walker added that the AUM will post its student enrolment for the new scholastic year around two weeks after an intake of new students in mid-October.
On Monday, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo admitted his frustration at the AUM’s performance, stating he has grown “allergic” to universities which instantly promise to attract thousands of students.
“Opening a university isn’t like opening a garage, it’s no joke. You must start small, start slowly and build from there. [The higher education] sector can reap so many great things but so many bad things too,” Bartolo said. “We must be jealous of our reputation and our name to ensure things run smoothly and we must be careful of those institutions who come here with lots of fancy words.”
“After seven years in government, we’ve grown a bit older and hopefully a bit wiser too.”
The brainchild of the Jordan-based Sadeen Group, the AUM launched in Malta a few years ago with much fanfare but it has so far failed to attract high numbers of students, with an estimated 94 enrolled there as of last February.
However, its contract with the government in terms of student numbers will only kick into play in 2025, the estimated time of completion of the project. Once the project is complete, the AUM will have to attract 4,000 students in the following four years, an annual intake of approximately 1,000 students.