University Act Position Paper

19/11/2017 10:59:13

To Members of the Press:

University Act

UMASA supports the principles of Academic Freedom, Democratisation of the University, increased participation of students and the development and upholding of Equal Opportunities and Diversity in the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.

UMASA is concerned that such a Document was drafted without consulting with academic representatives in the first instance.

We believe a legal instrument such as the proposed University Act should indeed be geared towards such fundamental principles. While certain proposals contained in the Consultation Document recently published by the Ministry for Education and Employment does propose some important innovations we oppose the introduction of a Governing Board that could potentially endanger our institutional autonomy. Universities in particular cannot thrive in such conditions. We need to see greater academic participation in decision making, not less. We do, however, recognise the scope for a properly constituted Appeals Board.

We would be remiss if we did not note that while great inroads have been made with regards to the development of institutional infrastructure much progress remains to be made. A quality research and learning environment is challenging to sustain in a campus which is cramped and overcrowded with Academics occupying hastily put together temporary offices for years on end.

The Document only makes a passing reference to research and does not sufficiently prioritise it. Fundamentally, the problem is an excessively instrumental view of education. This might also be the guiding principle underlying the proposal to fund the university on the basis of short term ‘service contracts’ without any consideration of research as a legitimate benchmark of output.

In sum UMASA:

  • Strongly opposes the creation of a Governing Board along the lines envisaged in the Document.

  • Is gravely concerned that the Document does not make any provisions for our role as researchers and scholars.

  • Supports the introduction of limitations of terms of office and proposes a broadening of the democratic structures for the elections of Deans and Rector.

  • Proposes the introduction of a dedicated Appeals Board.

  • Expects a seat at the table when the time comes to draft the White Paper for the University Act.

UMASA will be presenting its full Position Paper to the Minister in the coming Consultation Session at the University of Malta on Friday 24th November.

The Position Paper can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: UMASA University Act Position Paper

Dr. Jean-Paul Baldacchino

President, o.b.o UMASA Council