Following a report by Lovin Malta into the lack of students at the American University of Malta, and questions asked by the newspaper MaltaToday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has made it clear that he is not concerned with the American University of Malta’s slow start.
“I am sure that the AUM is going to be, and is, an important project; a project that we can all be proud of,” he said in comments to reporters.
“As the Minister of Education has said, the way we are seeing it develop, it could be that the numbers aren’t as high as first predicted, but the numbers will be gaining momentum, we have no doubt,” said Joseph Muscat.
“And as the Education Minister said,” he continued, “the Zonqor project will only begin when we are satisfied that the first phase of the project in Cottonera is filled out; we are not going to start something before the first phase is completed,” he said in reference to the second planned campus at Zonqor Point in Marsascala.
“Everything will be incremental, but I am convinced that it is going to be a great success,” he concluded.
The AUM had forecasted having at least 1,000 students enrolled in the first year, but had to scale it down to 300 after a weak response from students.
But with just 23 students enrolled so far, a spotlight is being placed on the burgeoning University and just how effective it will be in bringing in high level students, as was planned.
The low number of enrolees has made some people question whether it makes sense to build another campus in the Zonqor location when the Cottonera location remains practically empty.
The AUM’s provost John Ryder has said that the AUM was still dedicated to the long term feasibility of the project, even though he admitted they are having a “slow” start.
Lovin Malta’s report uncovered a near empty university campus, a hodgepodge of lecturers, and hopeful students who were enticed by the idea of the American University of Malta.
A look into the contract between the government and the university has found that the AUM has until March 2018 to start attracting 1,000 students a year.
If it doesn’t reach this number by then, it will be in breach of the contract signed when the public land in Cottonera and Marsascala was transfered to the Jordanian company Sadeen.
The contract also projects the AUM attracting “approximately 4,000 students by the fourth year from the date of completion.”