The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

AUM says it has more than 15 students, but still doesn’t divulge number

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 19 November 2017, 09:00 Last update: about 13 months ago

American University of Malta Provost John Ryder has told this newspaper that there are more than 15 students attending the fledgling university, but he did not reveal the number, despite being specifically asked the question.

According to a recent report in The Times of Malta, the university has only managed to attract 15 students.

While failing to quantify the size of the university’s student body, in his response the Provost did indicate that the number of students is currently small, but insisted that it will grow: “There are more students than the number you mentioned (15 in the question sent to the Provost), and numbers will grow for the spring semester and for next year.

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“If this means that, in these initial days, we provide more focused and individual attention, so be it. Our current students are benefitting from small classes and close attention from their professors. As the favourable comments from our students that have been in the media recently indicate, this can only improve our reputation in Malta and abroad in terms of the personal attention we give to our students.”

The Provost went on to stress that building a reputation is not something that happens overnight: “As I am sure you are aware, building a reputation for a new institution takes time. This is even more so for a university. But rest assured that we are committed to the AUM project for the long-term. In the very near future we will be also make public the number of students for this semester, and we will do the same in January, when we expect additional students. At the appropriate time we will invite the media and the public generally to tour our facilities in Bormla.”

Last August, the American University of Malta offered the government 10 scholarships amounting to over €300,000, to be awarded to students in Malta.

The Malta Independent on Sunday asked Provost Ryder to disclose the total number of people who had applied for an AUM scholarship and how many were Maltese, what subjects the 10 scholarships were for and how many scholarships had actually been taken up.

In response, Ryder said: “We made available 10 full scholarships for Maltese students for any of our degree programmes: BS in Accounting, BS Management, BS in Game Development, and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). The availability of the scholarships is in line with our initial agreement with the Maltese Government. We would also like to point out that, by law, these also have to be available for EU students if they have lived in Malta for a specified period.

“As was always agreed with local authorities, it was a governmental board that managed the selection process of recipients of the scholarships and it was this board that made the initial reviews, following which we were advised of the selected candidates. We obviously do not have records of the selection process undertaken by the government, but we have records of our actions once the recommendations were made to us, as we do for all admissions processes.”

The university as such made clear that it was unable to provide information as to the selection process, as it was the government board that was responsible, and it did not disclose how many of the scholarships had actually been taken up.

A very similar set of questions were sent to the Education Ministry, but no response had been received by the time of writing.

It was reported this week that Education Minister Evarist Bartolo believes the second planned American University of Malta campus at Zonqor Point should only start when AUM’s campus reaches full capacity.

Speaking to TVM, the Minister said he recognised that the number of students is not what had been expected, but he was confident that the number would increase as AUM builds its reputation. He also said that building a good reputation takes years.

The American University of Malta stirred up a national controversy when it was announced that it would be built on Outside Development Zone land in Zonqor, which resulted in a number of protests. While eventually it was agreed that the campus would be built on two separate sites, it is still proposed that part of it – although scaled down – be built in Zonqor, while the university is currently operating out of the Cospicua Dock 1 campus.

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