MEP says she still fulfills university obligations

Shadow minister for education has lecture load of 98 hours in university job that she juggles alongside her busy MEP career

Shadow education minister Therese Comodini Cachia juggles an MEP’s career with an onerous workload  as a university lecturer
Shadow education minister Therese Comodini Cachia juggles an MEP’s career with an onerous workload as a university lecturer

Shadow education minister and MEP Therese Comodini Cachia has insisted she is fulfilling contractual obligations at the University of Malta requiring her to spend four half-days a week and a lecturing-load of 98 hours of lectures every scholastic year. 

In an answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Labour backbencher Anthony Agius Decelis, education minister Evarist Bartolo said that Comodini Cachia is contracted to “give four sessions of four hours each per week.”

But speaking to MaltaToday, Comodini Cachia did not confirm the number of hours she works a week, instead saying that she lectures for a number of hours every week as well as “undertak[ing] the academic coordination of a postgraduate programme, correct assignments, exams and form part of examining boards on theses submitted by the faculty students. A couple of years ago I also fulfilled my obligation in attaining a Ph.D.”

On Saturday, the MEP’s spokesperson told MaltaToday that the Comodini Cachia had a packed schedule and could not answer further questions to determine the precise number of hours she puts in at the university, 

In his reply to the PQ, Bartolo had specified that apart from lecturing, Comodini Cachia is expected to carry out research and other academic duties, including administrative and professional work, and that she had a lecturing load of 98 hours over and above her research and administrative duties.

Apart from her busy schedule as MEP, Comodini Cachia is employed as a lecturer on an €18,000 salary, and under the terms of a collective agreement must spend four half-days working at the university.

The 2014/15 scholastic year timetables seen by MaltaToday allot Comodini Cachia a total 30 hours of lectures in the first semester for the Masters’ programme in human rights. The lectures were held on Mondays and Fridays.

The university website also shows a total lecturing portfolio of six credit, but no information was found about her lecturing duties in the remaining credits.

Comodini Cachia explained that she has lectured at the University of Malta on a part-time basis for a number of years. “I started lecturing only a couple of years following my graduation, taking on the role of lecturer and academic co-ordinator of a postgraduate degree offered by the Faculty of Laws,” she said.

The shadow minister said that following her election as MEP in 2014, “like most other MPs, I decided to retain my contractual terms with the University but have given up my lecturing at foreign universities.”   

Comodini Cachia insisted that she still performs the same duties as stipulated by her contract.

“I still hold lectures and meetings according to the lecturing schedule assigned. As you are aware I am not resident in Brussels, but have retained full residency in Malta.  This gives me time during each week for me to be at University.”

She said that when lectures are scheduled on days when the MEP is in Brussels lectures are held through video-conferencing facilities available at the University of Malta.

In reply to whether she is fulfilling all obligations, Comodini Cachia said: “if I didn’t believe that I could give students my utter best I would not have retained my commitments. Nor would I continuously develop the programme of studies I coordinate for the students to obtain an even better experience.”