Bartolo: New legal notice allows MCAST to offer higher education levels

MCAST to offer Master's equivalent courses • 6,500 full time students, 4,000 part-time students attend the college's 10 institutions

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo
MCAST launch new logo, corporate identity
MCAST launch new logo, corporate identity

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) will start offering level seven education - a Master's equivalent degree - made possible through the introduction of Legal Notice 150, the Education Minister has insisted.

Addressing the launch of MCAST's new corporate identity, Bartolo defended the controversial legal notice which has faced opposition from various quarters, including the academic staff at the University of Malta. Refuting statements that the legal notice has lowered the required criteria for educational institutions to get classified as universities, Bartolo said it will now make it possible for MCAST to further raise its educational levels.

“Standards need to be made higher to ensure that all students are given the possibility to improve,” Bartolo said. "Nobody should find obstacles in their education, and the only way to do this is to introduce higher standards and better access to education for everyone."

He added that the changes to the institution’s organisation will also tie education ever closer to the industry and its growing needs.

"The change will help it focus on addressing the needs of students who leave formal schooling before they receive any certification, those who want a closer education to the workplace and those who wish to progress their studies to the university level."

He explained that the change was needed because of the changes that Maltese society was experiencing.

Bartolo said that half the jobs created last year had been given to foreigners, which is not necessarily a bad thing as it brings values and talents together, but that some jobs are not being given to Maltese individuals because they don't have the necessary skills.

"We need to bring education closer to the needs of the industry," Bartolo said, adding that education could never be merely training, but a combination of both training and experience.

Bartolo said that the college had also highlighted the shortcomings of primary and secondary schools as levels one to three of education should have been covered through the original educational system. He said that, if these needs were met and students were given the necessary education at primary and secondary levels, then the college’s resources could finally be used on level 4 education upwards.

Silvio Debono, President of the board of governors, said that the institution which was founded in 2001 for 1,000 students in six institutions, had grown considerably after showing it was capable of facing the necessary educational and industrial challenges.

“The school now has ten institutions with 6,500 full time students and some 4,000 part-time students,” Debono said.

Debono added that new programmes would also be announced in the new prospectus for 2015/2016 which will be launched next week, both on a full time and part time basis.

Debono further explained that the institution provided level one to level six education under the Malta Qualifications Framework, with level three being that of ordinary level standard.

"MCAST will also be able to offer level seven education through the new legal notice," he said, adding that the growth of industries was developing new needs and challenges for the institution. 

Debono said that cross-curricular learning had become essential and students couldn't remain isolated in one sector. The institution had also managed to ensure work-based learning for students through a number of apprenticeships and internships.

"We also introduced a sense of entrepreneurship and lessons that teach students how to be better businessmen."

Debono stressed that the MCAST brand would not be changing. The new structure would introduce a foundation and technical college for levels 1-3 and 4 respectively, as well as a university college for higher education and that the change is planned over three years. 

“The new logo, designed by MCAST lecturers and students of graphic design from the MCAST Institute for Creative Arts, comprises three connected pillars to symbolize the three different colleges which students can progress through should they desire,” he added.

CEO of MCAST Steven Cachia said that the college would continue to develop on the work it has already done. 

"We will move in a new direction building on this progress," Cachia said, explaining that the institution was a unique one on the island, given the programmes it offered. 

He added that the aim of the change was that of building an institution to support the development of students, whatever their level was.

"The decision to make a change was the result of various discussions with the board of directors," he added.

Addressing the perceived competition between the Unoversity of malta and MCAST, Bartolo said that 12% of MCAST graduates had been level two students, who would have otherwise never made it into University;

“MCAST offers the possibility to engage more students who would otherwise have been left on the wayside,” he said stressing that the two institutions were not competing for the same students.

"These two educational institutions can lead to more young people getting opportunities for better employment," he said, "We are looking forward to further collaboration both between the two local institutions and even with foreign institutions."