The Malta Independent 4 December 2023, Monday
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Lecturers were not consulted over decision to change JC entry requirements

Semira Abbas Shalan Sunday, 27 March 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 3 years ago

Lecturers at Junior College, as well as those at the University of Malta, were not at all consulted over the change in the entry requirements for Junior College which the government decreed last week.

On Thursday, the government published a legal notice which states that students will no longer require a pass mark in all three of the core O-level subjects – being Mathematics, English, and Maltese - to be admitted into Junior College. Instead, a student will only need a pass mark in one of those subjects to enter.


The Malta Independent on Sunday spoke with a lecturer, who confirmed that none of the lecturers at Junior College, as well as some at the University, even knew about the situation, let alone the legal notice.

The lecturer, who preferred to stay anonymous, said that only members of the Junior College board, as well as those in the University Senate, knew of the change in policy.

University Pro-Rector Carmen Sammut defended the change in entrance policy, posting on Facebook that she did not understand why the decision caused a panic, as ‘it allows students who got stuck in one or two of the core subjects, to continue studying.’ She commented that the decision was in favour of the students.

Comments on Sammut’s Facebook post showed mixed reactions, with some praising the decision which would allow students more time and room to improve on their grades. Others, however, lamented on the lowering of standards in the country’s education, as well as expressing confusion, since all core subjects are still required to enter the University. Some even said that the change in policy causes extra stress on the student, who now must prepare for the failed O Level, as well as the A levels.

The lecturer noted that lecturers were unaware of the policy, up until it was released to the public. She also said that during last Friday’s meeting for Junior College prospective students, which happens yearly, these students were informed of the change, whilst ‘the lecturers have absolutely no idea that this came out to the public.’

“They informed us officially on Monday. Prospective students knew about it, yet us lecturers who work at Junior College had no idea that this was happening, nor about the legal notice,” she said.

Asked about her opinions about the situation, she said that the thing that irked her the most was the way the procedure was done – without any consultations, and in a very short span of time.

“I am not against reforms and changes, and I understand that there are situations where students find certain subjects difficult, but the fact that the policy change happened so quickly, and without any real thought over the effects it will bring, that is my real concern,” she said.

She said that it will prove difficult for those who do not pass English, for example, as the official language of instruction during lectures is English. “I also do not understand the logic behind the policy change, because the requirements for University remained the same,” she said.


“What went wrong during those 11 years of schooling, from primary school onwards?”

This newsroom also contacted University professor Josef Lauri, who said that he was made aware of the situation only three days ago.

He also confirmed that, from what he knows, no teacher or lecturer was even aware of the policy change, let alone consulted about it. Lauri said that from what he has heard, Board members thought that the policy was brought forward for discussion, but in fact was presented as a decision, he said.

He questioned claims of introducing the policy change due to the struggles students have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The University’s Communications office released a statement which clarified that the amendments to the requirements will be permanent, and not a temporary measure due to the pandemic.

Lauri noted that the situation – meaning students failing these exams and being allowed to continue to sixth form, might not be the best way to address the problem.

“What went wrong during those 11 years of schooling, from primary school onwards, while these students were studying these core subjects? Will the problem be solved in two years? The real problem is what is happening during those 11 years,” Lauri said. He said that this might be due to a multitude of reasons – such as the curriculum not being exciting enough, or the examinations being too difficult, adding that these are the problems which should be investigated further.

He remarked that during all those years of school, students should have obtained the basics in the core subjects, noting that only a pass mark was needed.

“We must look at how these subjects are being taught and assessed during the primary and secondary years,” Lauri said. He noted that nothing else has changed, not the curriculum and neither the assessment methods.

Lauri questioned how feasible the new change in policy is, noting that this might result in, “more cramming and stress to pass the exam during those two years, all the while studying for A levels and Intermediate Levels,” defeating the point to truly focus on learning.

He also noted that students might become indifferent to trying to pass the subjects in the first place, adopting an approach where they leave it for sixth form. “If they still do not pass the subject after the two years, will we stop them from continuing their studies?” Lauri questioned.

Lauri spoke about the effects the change in entry requirements might bring, which might include pressure for the University to also change the entry requirements.

“We are looking at a solution to the problem in the wrong places,” Lauri said.

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