[WATCH] Rigorous process will determine AUM accreditation – Martin Scicluna

Education minister says new legal notice will not lower standards of educational institutions

Martin Scicluna (Photo by Ray Attard)
Martin Scicluna (Photo by Ray Attard)
Education minister says that no educational institution will operate in Malta unless it has quality standards

Education minister Evarist Bartolo has told a conference on national educational standards that no educational institution will operate in Malta unless it has quality standards.

“Nobody is going to be allowed to buy a licence to operate an educational institution in Malta, no matter how financially viable this would be,” Bartolo told the ‘Making Quality Visible’ conference organised by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education.

“A university is not a business,” Bartolo said, ostensibly also in reference to the recent slimming down of requirements for university accreditation in Malta.

“We cannot allow education to become a mere set of qualities to be ticked,” he said, adding that a commitment to help and empower students and learners, remained at the centre of teaching.

NCFHE chairman Martin Scicluna said that the commission’s accreditation on the status for Sadeen Group’s ‘American University of Malta’, now in the light of recent amendments to accreditation rules, would be carried out through the usual process with no lowering of standards.

“We are not in the business of lowering standards; the new legal notice was an aim to bring Malta in line with international and wider more encompassing educational systems,” he said.

Scicluna also said that following 18-month long consultation and piloting process, which took in discussions with all major state and private institutions, as well as quality assurance agencies for further and higher education in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Romania, Malta was presented its own National Quality Assurance Framework for Further and Higher Education.

Scicluna said the NCFHE’s work was independent and focussed solely on an objective assessment of clear and rigorous criteria.

“The judgement which will be reached on the accreditation of the American University of Malta will be reached independently by my board, advised by my Quality Assurance Committee, after a most rigorous due process.

“There will be no lowering of standards. The methodology being adopted under our watch will be correct, pragmatic, objective and within the rule set down under the law. Those of you here who have been involved with us in the preparation of the Malta Qualifications Framework will know that we are not in the business of lowering standards under any circumstances.”

The NCFHE will be issuing guidelines in a bid to remove any misunderstanding created by the legal notice, which reduced the number of undergraduate and doctorate fields of study required for a university to operate as such. “The guidelines will include defining the so-called national interest as well as rules governing the experience of educational institutions among others,” Scicluna said of new criteria that include ‘national interest’ to warrant a higher education institution.

“None of the changes in the Legal Notice in any way reduce the rigour of the due diligence process that my Commission applies. It is completely incorrect to state that standards have been reduced in any shape or form. Nor is quality linked to the quantity, amount or number of programmes offered by a university. Every programme has to satisfy quality criteria and – as you in this room know so well – these were established three years ago and remain untouched by the Legal Notice.”