Education: Quality does matter

It is very important to safeguard the quality of further and higher education within the economic, social and cultural context.

A university is not just another business. In the past we have had a number of bogus universities granting fake degrees locally. During that time, as shadow minister for education, I always denounced such practices. We will not allow such bogus institutions to operate locally. Neither will any investor be allowed to buy a university licence. Programmes, faculty and governance have to be scrutinised for quality by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE).

With the help of EU funds, particularly the European Social Fund, we have completed a project that ensures that the improvements made in the quality of our education are subject to the necessary procedures and mechanisms for the correct auditing of Further and Higher Education entities in Malta by the NCFHE.

The ultimate aim of this project was to foster a national culture of quality in further and higher education provision. The highlights of this project were three pilot internal and external audits within the University of Malta, the Institute for Tourism Studies and the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology.

It is very important to safeguard the quality of further and higher education within the economic, social and cultural context. Quality assurance contributes in promoting Malta as an international provider of educational excellence. Providing quality education is not only about course content. The programmes are obviously important but so is the faculty governance and lecturing delivery. We need to put our heart and soul in teaching and our commitment must show the passion and quality in the education that we wish to give our students. We need to accredit properly our formal and informal education and also work-based learning.

One of the main deliverables of this project was the Manual of Procedures for external quality audits. The National Quality Assurance Framework provides guidance to educational institutions that embark on the processes of Quality Assurance in order to enhance the learning outcomes provided through their educational programmes. The NCHFE provides due diligence leading to membership in higher education quality assurance agencies in Europe. This was not just a process of ticking the appropriate boxes in a standard form; it was and will remain a rigorous process that will bring Malta in line with international and wider, more encompassing educational systems.

As a centre of quality in education, Malta stands to benefit substantially in an economic context. The NCFHE has upgraded quality assurance practices and these will continue to improve Malta’s position on international grounds, thereby attracting more students to our shores. The National Commission for Further and Higher Education will foster enhanced quality cultures among further and higher education institutions.

We want universities in Malta and Gozo to empower people for more jobs and a better quality of life. The government is adamant that the quality and standards of our education are not lowered and through the NCFHE, we will make quality visible. Such measures will improve education and skills and will enhance the quality of the educational experience of our students. This will increase students’ participation in their learning process.

This government is committed to continue promoting a pluralistic approach with further and higher education institutions, thus strengthening Malta’s international standing.