AUM needs to show it merits a building extension, Evarist Bartolo says

The American University's president said that the university needed the peace of mind that it could cater for a potential increase in students

The proposed extension for the American University of Malta
The proposed extension for the American University of Malta

Before the planning permit on an extension to the American University in Bormla is approved, the AUM needs to show that it does indeed require that extension, education minister Evarist Bartolo said.

Speaking to sister paper Illum, Bartolo said that while approving the permit for the extension is the Planning Authority's responsibility, the AUM needed to merit such a development and that it needed to clearly show that it needed the infrastructure.

"Personally, I believe that first and foremost, the [AUM] has to show that it needs a new facility extension of that size to cater for its students," Bartolo said.

AUM President Lewis Walker told Illum that while the extension and the four-storey dormitory are not currently required for the relatively small number of students, the university wanted the peace of mind that it had ample space for a potential increase in new students.

Bartolo had strong words in Parliament this week when he said that he had become 'allergic' to whoever claimed that the university would bring thousands of students to Malta.

"I worry when I hear this. To found a university is not like opening a working garage," he said, adding that Malta should make sure that certain projects are completed diligently for the sake of the country's reputation while praising other institutions that were making leaps in silence.

The London School of Commerce, he said, had produced 500 Master's graduates from 80 different countries.

Two years ago, the AUM submitted a planning application for the development of a building adjacent to the current campus and for the development of a dormitory on St Paul's Street in Bormla. At the time, both the Isla and Bormla local councils expressed their concern on how the development would likely impact the community.

Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield, also a Cottonera resident, spoke in Parliament about the project and eventually said on social media that the proposed development is too big for the number of students the AUM hosts. Such a development, he said, would veil the Isla entrance.

The PA has already indicated it would reject the application for an extension to the university building and will likely confirm its decision in the next sitting. 

The AUM told Illum that in the event of such a rejection, the university is still unsure whether it would appeal the decision.

His counter-argument for the small number of students not requiring the space, the AUM's president said that the university would be unable to invite more students and to bring more students to Malta without the necessary space and the 'fundamental' dormitory needed for the university's operation.

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