Independent political candidate Arnold Cassola has called on the Office of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to look into how the American University of Malta’s latest audit that lead to its five-year licence renewal has not yet been made public, and about how Education Minister Clifton Grima misled Parliament about its publication.
Cassola’s complaint follows The Shift’s report this morning that the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority (MFHEA), responsible for issuing the AUM’s latest five-year licence renewal, has not yet published the audit report on which it based the decision.
Following an initial external quality assurance audit carried out in 2021, in which the AUM fared poorly – having failed to meet eight of the 11 quality assurance standards – the licensing authority renewed the Cottonera-based university’s license for an additional year, up to mid-2022, instead of the usual five.
That second audit was undertaken in April and the authority’s decision to renew the AUM’s licence, based on that audit, was taken last August although there had been a pledge to publish the second audit before the new licence was granted.
The Shift also reported this morning how Education Minister Clifton Grima misled Parliament when he informed Opposition MP Rebekah Borg that “the report was published on the website of the MFHEA” when it clearly was not.
Cassola said after The Shift’s report, “Minister Clifton Grima refused to reveal the audit which gave Sadeen’s AUM a lifeline to continue functioning. Despite previous assurances that this audit would be made public before AUM had its license renewed, Minister Clifton Grima did not answer a Parliamentary Question about it.
“Instead, he referred to a website which he said had published it. This was not the case.
“We cannot continue with this culture of impunity where anything goes and ministers mislead the public.
“If the Standards Commissioner [once a new one is appointed] is serious about ethics and transparency, this will be the first test.”