The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Government and UoM sign agreement on Barts Medical School; KSU, MMSA welcome signing

Mathias Mallia Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 16:39 Last update: about 4 years ago

An agreement between the Department of Health, Ministry for Energy and Health and the University of Malta was signed today about the grounds upon which the Barts medical school and the UoM Medical school will maintain and strengthen their education systems. This included measures to safeguard the current Maltese medical students in terms of resources as well as potential to further expand on the current potential of the UoM.

Rector, Professor Juanito Camilleri, spoke of the Maltese Medical School as the oldest in Europe at 424 years old and, keeping this in mind, the Professor spoke very passionately about not only retaining the standards of the Medical School and UoM, but also of expansion. The Rector acknowledged that "our resources are limited" but, at this stage in the evolving world of medicine, we must also learn to not only co-exist with foreign Universities, but also work with them in a sort of symbiosis. Prof Camilleri spoke of trying to work with Barts to potentially even collaborate on research projects across the campuses.

Parliamentary Secretary Fearne spoke about the need "to always keep the Maltese medical school a priority". He mentioned how Barts Medical School is actually the oldest school of its kind in England and that this is the first time they are going to have a campus outside of the UK. Dr Fearne insists that having another campus will strengthen the environment of study and research in Malta and Gozo both for undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Dr Fearne also spoke about how this is the first time and agreement between the UoM and the government has been signed where the government is actually guaranteeing resources for continued growth of the University while looking at room to go beyond what we are currently capable of doing as a Medical School and as a University. The Parliamentary Secretary also mentioned the expansion of Mater Dei with the addition of two wards and plans for more beds in the near future as well as projects to renew St Luke's facilities and the Gozo General Hospital.

Minister Konrad Mizzi started by saying that "change brings about anxiety" and, as such, it was fully understandable that the UoM had serious reservations about the Barts Medical School and other foreign Universities. However the Minister insisted that the government will always support the UoM to maintain training in all government hospitals. Minister Mizzi spoke of government equipment allowing for more than the current 600 students over the three year period at the UoM, and further support for the Faculty of Health Sciences as well.

The Minister insisted that the government will also keep giving full support to the University's internationalization programs and spoke of plans to work with Malta Enterprise to organize events to promote the University to International students. He concluded with "The future is bright for the medical sector."

 

MMSA, KSU welcome agreement

The Malta Medical Students’ Association (MMSA) together with the Kunsill Studenti Universitariji (KSU) said this evening that they are satisfied with the signing of an agreement between the University of Malta and the government, which safeguards the resources of the UoM Medical School within Mater Dei Hospital and other governmental-health institutions; earlier today. However there is still much more to be done to ensure that the introduction of a second medical school within the Maltese islands will be as smooth as possible.

Following a number of meetings with the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, the Minister for Energy and Health Konrad Mizzi as well as the Parliamentary secretary for Health Chris Fearne; both organisations stated the importance of having such an agreement created and signed in order to ensure that the introduction of a second Medical School in Malta would not affect the training and quality of education, as well as the availability of resources for the medical students enrolled within the UoM.

They said that every effort was done to ensure that the agreement would not restrict any future improvements which may be planned for the University of Malta Medical School. MMSA and KSU would like to thank the Dean and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, as well as the Rector of the University of Malta for being kept updated regarding the matter and for the opportunity for the organisations to forward concerns and suggestions all throughout.

In a jo9intg statement, both organisations said they will remain adamant to safeguard the quality of medical education and also the resources of the University of Malta Medical School, in order to ensure that nothing will hinder the institution from continuing to expand its teaching opportunities at every level of education.

MMSA and KSU are satisfied to hear that the concerned stakeholders are going to keep the Maltese Medical School as a priority. In an email correspondence dating to the 12th December 2015, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Hon. Chris Fearne gave a number of signed reassurances which include the following:

“Indeed, the introduction of Barts on the local scene as well as the upgrading of and increase in facilities at St Luke's Hospital, Karen Grech and in Gozo General Hospital will offer increased undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities for Maltese students. The University of Malta and Barts have also agreed to set up an intercollegiate working group to collaborate on student placement to the benefit of both medical schools.

In addressing the specific concerns raised in your email of the 4th December 2015, I would like to confirm that:

a) Government will present a draft agreement to the University of Malta by the end of December 2015.
b) That the number of available consultants and bed spaces will increase substantially.
c) That there will be coordination to ensure that there will be no conflicts between the timetables of both academic institutions.

d) That the number of Foundation Programme places will increase accordingly.”

Both MMSA and KSU acknowledged that this agreement is a positive step in the right direction enhancing better communication. However, having a second medical school in Mater Dei will present with a lot of challenges to the current UoM medical school, including the increase of medical students on the wards, as well as possible poaching of lecturers who teach within the UoM medical course.

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