Labour pledges €1 million research fund for University academics

Students to get €100 increase in annual grant • Up to €850 for youths studying a foreign language and travel to the country

From left: Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and PL candidate Nikita Zammit Alamango (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
From left: Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and PL candidate Nikita Zammit Alamango (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

The Labour Party is pledging a €1 million research fund for University of Malta academics if it is re-elected to a second term.

This would be the first time that a dedicated fund with this amount of money is set up, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said.

The money would go to help University researchers focus on projects that involve “innovative research”, coupled with a national policy for open access to research.

Another dedicated fund would focus on research and innovation clusters, including studies on public policy, patents, digital tools and matters related to social and commercial aspects.

Support would also be given to research leading to the development of a spellchecker for the Maltese language.

Addressing a press conference at the MCAST campus in Paola, the Labour Party this morning presented its proposals for the education sector, including a number of measures to help support students in their studies.

A Labour government would continue to encourage students, who don’t sit for their SEC exams, to apply for alternative vocational programmes, in conjunction with the agency for youths, Agenzija Zghazagh.

On MCAST, the PL is pledging to set up a Centre for Applied Research in collaboration with local and international industry. It also plans on using MCAST as a vocational centre in the Mediterranean with the aim of attracting foreign students.

At MCAST as well, the Labour government would set up an academic maritime course.

Following the adjudication of the tender, the government would kickstart the development of a parking at the University of Malta.

Targeting students who want to become veterinaries, the government will push for the University of Malta to consider twinning with a foreign university so that students will do the first three years – of a five-year course – in Malta.

Students who continue to study after secondary school will be given free internet access for a year. All students will be entitled to free public transport. Additionally, students’ annual grant will increase by €100.

Students studying a foreign language, but who are not able to take part in the Erasmus programme for various reasons, will be entitled to up to €850 if they visit that country.

All those working and sitting for a Masters or PhD will be granted study leave.

Students doing apprenticeship programmes will be paid a salary, at minimum, equivalent to the minimum wage.

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