University agrees to discuss Ombudsman's recommendations

Following a report that showed O level candidates with ADHD, autism and dyslexia had half the success rate, the University of Malta has pledged to improve access arrangements

The University of Malta said that the ombudsman’s report noted that a number of measures have already been adopted to assist students with special learning needs
The University of Malta said that the ombudsman’s report noted that a number of measures have already been adopted to assist students with special learning needs

The University of Malta has welcomed the education ombudsman’s latest report, saying that it will “objectively discuss and further deliberate” on its recommendations in order to adopt effective measures to assist students.

Last week, the education ombudsman published a report on special needs students’ access to MATSEC exams, which found that between 2014 and 2016, candidates suffering from ADHD, autism and dyslexia who sat for the Maltese, English and Mathematics O levels had a success rate that was less than half of those of other candidates.

Commissioner for Education Charles Farrugia had said in his report that it was reasonable to conclude that the results are not just down to candidates’ innate conditions, but also to insufficient access support by the University of Malta, which organises the MATSEC examinations.

Green Party Alternattiva Demokratika criticised the MATSEC board in the wake of the report, calling its assessment systems “overly bureaucratic and archaic”.

AD spokesperson Anna Azzopardi said the MATSEC board should be “ready and open to embrace new technologies as part of a changing world.”

In a statement issued today, the University of Malta said that the ombudsman’s report noted that a number of measures have already been adopted to assist students with special learning needs.

“University of Malta shall strive to continue to improve these access arrangements, to engage with students and parents, and to take into account expert advice and international practice,” the University said. “This is done with a view to adopting further support that does not impact negatively the integrity of the examination system.”

The University added that it will seek to solicit government for new funds in support of these measures.

The University also pointed to MATSEC surveys carried out in 2016 and 2017 which indicated that the great majority of students rated the Examinations Access Arrangements (EAA) currently provided as ‘very helpful’ or ‘helpful’.

Furthermore, the University’s Access - Disability Support Committee (ADSC) reiterated that since EAAs regard students with a wide spectrum of abilities and needs, a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate.

“Each application is processed on its own merits and often meetings are held with educators, students and parents individually to give each applicant careful and due consideration,” the University’s statement continued.

The University added that in view of the forthcoming implementation of the Learning Outcomes Framework, it is envisaged that examination procedures will change, and that this will include continuous assessment in subjects at SEC level for all candidates.

“The University of Malta will continue to strive to address requests for EAAs as considerately as possible. The University will continue to audit processes regularly and to keep abreast of developments in the field of disabilities, so that parents and students may remain confident that the support provided is in their best interest.”

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