Haileybury College, the education establishment set to take over the state-owned military hospital in Mtarfa, was at the centre of an illegal price-fixing cartel that allowed some of the UK’s leading schools to drive up fees for thousands of parents.
In 2005, the Office of Fair Trading in the UK found that around 50 of the country’s top schools had systematically exchanged detailed financial information of their planned fee increases to charge parents much higher than would have been the case.
The issue proved even more controversial given that private schools were given a tax exemption due to their work for “public benefit”.
“Confidential please, so we aren’t accused of being a cartel,” one school’s Bursar wrote on one the emails sharing information.
At Haileybury, for example, prices jumped up from £11,775 to £21,990
The Independent Schools Council, which represented the colleges, insisted that colleges were exempt from anti-cartel rules applied to business, adding that they were following the long-established practice.
Yesterday, Malta’s House of Representatives unanimously approved a concession siphoning off yet another state-owned asset to a private company. The company, Haileybury Malta Ltd., was granted a 40-year lease at a ground rate of €50,000 per year for the first five years and €125,000 per year after that.
The college is set to cater to international students on the island. Haileybury already has experience when it comes to international schools, owning two of the sort in Kazakstan.
The company is mostly owned by Atlantic Education Alliance Ltd, with its shares split between RTG Holdings Ltd, owned by Ruth Galea Trapani, and Stanley Logistics Ltd, a British based company owned by Anthony Michael Polak and Marie Christine Polak. Galea Trapani and Polak are also the directors of Haileybury Malta Ltd.
Galea Trapani also serves as a Malta Gaming Authority board member.
The pair were awarded the concession after a call for proposals was issued in April 2018. Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has said that he would have liked local private schools to set up at the site. However, none applied.
Lovin Malta has attempted to reach out to Haileybury College in the UK and Ruth Trapani Galea for a comment. However, they have not replied by the time of publication.