Education minister once again evasive on how AUM was granted a new licence

Education Minister Clifton Grima has once again chosen to be evasive with Parliament over the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority’s granting of a new licence for the American University of Malta to operate as an educational facility.

A Parliamentary Question for Grima this week asked the minister if the MFHEA had made any “specific criteria” for the AUM to be able to be awarded a licence to operate in Malta during the licencing evaluation of the much-maligned educational establishment.

If so, PN MP Jerome Caruana Cilia asked Grima what those specific criteria were.

The minister, however, shut the question down by economically saying, “every license that is issued for an institution to operate from Malta also includes a list of criteria.”

The minister completely ignored the second part of the question asking what those exact criteria were, which was perhaps the most important part of the question.

The facility recently had its accreditation revoked by its home country of Jordan’s Ministry of Higher Education and the Committee for Accrediting Academic Institutions Abroad as it apparently “did not comply with basic standards and education conditions”.

The Opposition, which maintains the AUM should never have been accredited in Malta in the first place, has called for a review of its Malta licence and agreement – in particular over the fact that the university’s current student body pales in comparison to what it is supposed to be now four and half years down the line.

This week was the second time Minister Grima was found being evasive with the House when it comes to the licence.

Last November, The Shift reported how Grima misled Parliament when he told Opposition MP Rebekah Borg that the audit had already been published when it was actually being kept under wraps,

It turned out the minister was referring to an older audit and not the latest one, which had been published a month after Grima’s misdirection and only after The Shift filed a freedom of information request for the document.

That audit, on which the MFHEA based its decision to award the beleaguered AUM a further five-year operating licence, had, once it was finally published, found dismal results at the Jordanian-owned tertiary educational facility.

It confirmed that the AUM is still far from achieving its obligatory number of students.

Although the three-day, pre-announced audit at the campus confirmed the AUM is not up to the standards expected from such an institution, the government agency still approved a five-year renewal of its operating licence, which now remains valid until 2027.

The size of the student body had been an essential aspect in the much-hyped Jordanian investment’s sale to the public in 2015, when large parcels of prime public land at Cospicua’s Dock 1 and Marsascala’s Żonqor Point were given to the Jordanian company for a pittance.

According to the original plans and the terms of its original licence, the AUM was to reach an intake of 1,200 students by its fourth year of operations. By last April it has not even reached a 10th of its original target.

According to the audit, ‘External Quality Assurance Programmes Audit Report’, by April 2022, when the audit was performed, the AUM had just 113 registered students.

Prime Minister Robert Abela recently struck a new contentious deal with the AUM, swapping public land in Zonqor Point with another property at Smart City for its promised new campus.

Through the deal, Jordanian construction magnate Hani Hasan Naji Salah was sold a large area of public seafront land for just €0.47c per square metre.

                           
                           
                               
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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
8 days ago

The saga of the AUM brought nothing but shame to our educational institutions.

Francis Said
Francis Said
7 days ago

We either have an extremely generous government to some or this deal, from inception stinks all the way to hell and back.
Common sense guides me to believe the latter.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
7 days ago

In case of blatantly wrong decisions, one is forced to be evasive.

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