Higher education licencing chair resigned after three months for ‘personal reasons’

‘If things were not done properly at the AUM or there are reports which need to be published, I am for full transparency’ - nominee Edward Woods


The sudden resignation of Prof John Portelli as the head of the government’s licencing authority for higher education was for “personal reasons” and had nothing to do with the dubious renewal of the American University of Malta’s (AUM) operating licence, according to Education Minister Clifton Grima.

Speaking at the Public Appointments Committee – which in the span of five months had to approve the nomination of two different chairmen for the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority – Grima acknowledged the former chairman had resigned within just three months of his appointment.

Pressed by MP Karol Aquilina on whether this resignation happened when the AUM was issued with a renewed licence despite failing various unpublished audits, Minister Grima said that he was told by the resigning Chairman that his reason for stepping down so suddenly was of a “personal” nature.

At the same time, the minister has not explained why the government had failed to inform the public about this resignation, as is usually done, as the Minister only said, “yes we did not inform the public about this.”

“We had immediately started the process to find a substitute, and this is why we have now reached the stage of submitting the nomination of Edward Woods as the new chair.”

‘I am for full transparency

In his presentation to the Committee, Woods – a veteran lawyer and former Malta Communications Authority chairperson – underscored the fact that he was not seeking any government role and was only accepting the offer to give a helping hand as required.

“Let me make it clear. I do not want or need any of this. If things were not done properly at the AUM or there are reports which need to be published, I am for full transparency,” he told Parliament.

“I have absolutely no idea what has been done so far and don’t even know where the offices of the MFHEA are. Before accepting I just want to make sure that there are no problems with anything, including the AUM licence,” the respected lawyer said.

In 2019, Woods’s Chairmanship of the MCA was not extended on the direct instructions of the minister responsible at the time, Silvio Schembri.

The Shift reported last year that, despite various audits in which it failed, the MFHEA nevertheless chose to renew the beleaguered university’s licence for a further five years.

The reports were only made public after the licence was awarded and after Minister Grima insisted in parliament that all the assessment reports were publicly available when they were not.

In a clarification sent to The Shift, resigning chairman Portelli – a University of Toronto Professor Emeritus – distanced himself from the process that renewed the AUM’s licence, stating that it had been done before his chairmanship.

He insisted that his resignation three months after his nomination was for personal reasons but he did not elaborate further.


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Francis Said
Francis Said
24 days ago

Another prime example of mis-management with a strong stench of corruption.
An institution that has not achieved it’s targets and given an extension.
Reminds me of the similarities to the Vitals/Steward corrupt agreements.

24 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Your right, same Mafia, same bank accounts, same greed, Mafialand in action yet again.

24 days ago
Reply to  Mick

Same Maltese recipients?

24 days ago

It is obvious why he resigned.
After giving the accreditation to AUM , by the local accreditation authority , they employed Prof. Portelli , a status symbol to head the AUM. It did not take long for the learned professor to find out that his position was being used to cover a fraudulent accreditation , and he simply reigned .This is what Honorable Men do.

Last edited 24 days ago by makjavel
Carmelo Borg
24 days ago

Ma nafux kif dawn il politici jippruvaw jidqu bil poplu f WICC minghajr misthija ta xejn. Sewwa jghid JESMOND ZAMMIT MARMARA li hemm hafna partitarji LABURIST cwiec. Sewwa qal Dr ZAMMIT lewis li il LABURISTI GAHAN jibilaw kollox.Teblalhom li trid u i caccpu MEQ MEQ

23 days ago

“personal” nature.

I’am not a puppet or that corrupt.

23 days ago

Il-finanzjaturi tal-Partit Laburista jkomplu jfarrku l-pajjiż.

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