University of Malta stands fast on postgraduate law admission requirements

Students who obtained undergraduate law degrees from abroad, have complained of being asked to undergo transitional courses in order to join the postgraduate course required to practise law in Malta

The University of Malta is standing its ground on the issue of the recognition of foreign undergraduate law degrees for Maltese students as a qualification for postgraduate law courses, stating that the Maltese undergraduate and postgraduate courses must be taken together for the formation of a competent legal professional.

Students, who have for various reasons, obtained undergraduate law degrees from abroad at considerable financial cost, have complained of stiff resistance from the University, being asked to undergo transitional courses in order to join the postgraduate course required to practise law in Malta.

Maltese students currently following LLB courses overseas, which they claim are recognised by the mutual recognition of qualifications, were made aware that a legal notice had been issued by the council of the University of Malta. "The legal notice was issued after the students had already committed to the course and stipulated that only students obtaining their LL.B from the University of Malta will be eligible to follow the Masters in Advocacy, which in turn, is needed to obtain a Maltese warrant of practice."

One student spoken to by the MaltaToday, who did not wish to be named, had conducted an aggressive and ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the recognition of a foreign LL.B degree, in order to obtain the M.Adv and eventual warrant to practise as a lawyer.  

The Education Ministry had promised a change in legislation and had even suggested working as a lawyer without a warrant to practise in court, said the student. The student had however refused and remains unable to study law at a postgraduate level in Malta, despite spending upwards of €20,000 on a degree “which a legal notice rendered useless.”

Only LL.B and M.Adv do a Maltese lawyer make - UoM

Contacted for comment on the issue of foreign degree recognition, the University of Malta insisted that both undergraduate and post-graduate courses had to be followed in order for the proper formation of a legal professional who can practise in Malta.

"The UM may consider an equivalent to the LL.B course for admission into certain post-graduate degrees but not for the M.Adv course," said a university spokesman on Saturday.

“The M. Adv. degree is a professional qualification and requires a first degree in laws (LL.B) such that, the two qualifications taken together comprise a programme of studies that prepares the graduate to practice as a lawyer in Malta (on obtaining the relevant warrant). The full programme, that is, LL.B plus M.Adv., taken together is what the Faculty considers necessary for the formation of a competent legal professional to practice in Malta. It is for this reason that the University only gives access to the master's degree to those applicants who possess the University of Malta's LL.B."

"The University of Malta recognises a first (undergraduate) degree in laws from an accredited university but recognition does not necessarily mean that the qualification serves as sufficient entry requirement to a UM postgraduate degree. Indeed, even first degrees from UM do not necessarily give access to postgraduate programmes of the University if they do not adequately prepare the candidate for the higher degree,” said the university.