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Talks intensify with St George's, University of London

St George's University of London (SGUL) principal Prof. Peter Kopelman and other high ranking SGUL officials were recently hosted to talks by the University of Malta with a view to establishing a joint four-year international graduate entry medical education programme in Malta, alongside the existing University of Malta course.

Senior SGUL academic staff are expected back in Malta as early as July 9, and Prof. Kopelman will be returning on July 29 and 30 to continue discussions with the University. In the meantime, the agreement between SGUL and the University will be presented to a University council meeting on July 17.

Godfrey Laferla, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, expressed the faculty's enthusiasm about the proposed joint venture, arguing that unlike the franchises other institutions had previously proposed this would be a true partnership between equals where the responsibilities and benefits would be shared. He stressed that the undergraduate medical programme currently offered locally and the one offered as a result of the partnership would run in parallel and not in direct competition.

Aware of the medical brain drain Malta is currently facing, the faculty has agreed to work with St George's staff to implement postgraduate training exchanges, thereby enabling local postgraduate doctors to complete their higher specialist training in highly reputable institutions. Prof. Laferla said the partnership would open opportunities to all faculty members and doctors working at Mater Dei, other hospitals and in the community. In addition to establishing major clinical links the faculty is also keen to consolidate its research base by co-operating with St George's in a number of joint projects.

University rector Juanito Camilleri said this was a further step in the University's strategy of partnering with prestigious international educational institutions and would help realise the vision of Malta as an international preferred provider of quality higher education, the 'Teacher of the Mediterranean'.

St George's has been successfully running graduate and undergraduate entry medical education programmes together for over eight years. SGUL was the first medical school in the British isles to offer a graduate entry programme. SGUL is the only independently-governed medical school in England. It is a premier educational establishment gaining an excellent score of 23 out of 24 in the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) inspection of medicine - the highest score of any London medical school.

SGUL shares its site with St George's hospital in Tooting, one of the biggest NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom. St George's Healthcare NHS Trust employs over 5,000 staff with 2,500 nurses and 800 physicians with over 1,000 beds and trains over 4,000 healthcare professionals. The annual budget of the Trust is close to €500 million.

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