Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has criticised the American University of Malta for promising to attract thousands of students within a few years.
“I’m not satisfied with the American University of Malta’s performance,” Bartolo said in Parliament today. “Experience has made me allergic to universities which come here and promise to attract thousands of students; those are the universities which worry me.”
“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. 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 AUM’s contract with the government states that it must complete its entire project by 2025 and attract 4,000 students in the following four years, but it has so far struggled to attract high numbers of students.
Without mentioning the AUM or other higher educational institutions by name, Bartolo warned that Malta has recently witnessed cases of student visa fraud, with people acquiring a visa simply to flee their home country.
“While we tell Identity Malta and police to give out student visas, I fully understand their point that screening must be taken seriously,” he said.
In contrast, the Education Minister singled out the Barts medical school and the London School of Commerce for praise, noting that the latter institution has achieved a high student graduation rate without much fanfare.