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On realistic dreams and visions

October brings with it the opening of the Academic year. After a long summer where I did a lot of work on two chapters for two different academic publications besides managing to upgrade the power point presentations and reading lists that I will be using during lectures, it is nice to start teaching again.

I was enrolled in this University for the academic year 1970/1971. It was the year when the Borg Olivier government abolished fees.  I was very active in student affairs and was even elected as president of the Student Representative Council. Full student representation on University governing bodies was introduced, if I am not mistaken, during the Labour administration of 1974. Together with Louis Galea we were the first two students who were elected by the student body  as full members of University Council. My first graduation was quite uneventful. My graduation for the masters in theology was totally the opposite. A number of Labour leaning thugs attacked the assembly hall where the graduation was taking place. It was 1977 when students were protesting against the student/worker scheme.

Today our University is radically different from the way it was back then. The number of the current foreign student population is just under the number of University students in the 1970s. The number of courses being provided today at the University is roughly the same as the number of courses that are being offered today – 787 in all! This October 3,300 students were enrolled,  pushing the number of University students to just over 11,000. And while University students overseas are involved in pitched battles with the authorities because fees are being tripled, our students are paid to come to University!

Rector was right on target to compare our University to  a building site. In his speech he said that the University is really investing significantly in upgrading its facilities and in scaling up its capacity. The list of projects he mentioned is impressive.  New air-conditioning and energy-saving lighting systems are being installed in the library. The construction of an extension of the Faculty of Economics Management and Accountancy and the Faculties of Laws and Theology respectively are nearing completion. The construction of the extension of the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences and facilities to host the Institute of Tourism Travel and Culture and the Department of Criminology have commenced. The building that will house a new Faculty of ICT is nearing completion. The construction of two new floors on the Biomedical Sciences building is also taking shape. Four new faculties were set up in the last six years.

These projects were funded through European Regional Development Funds and Government investment.

There are some people who are men (and women) of vision. They dream a lot but generally let the work for others. There are men (and women) of practice. They do a lot but generally their work is dissipated as it lacks a sense of holistic direction. The Rector of the University, Prof Juanito Camilleri, happens to be one of those few who combine vision with practice. He is thus succeeding in producing a lot. He has a dream and a vision which are being realised.

The full time (and a half) Rector who is also a part-time farmer encouraged students to nurture their own dreams and visions. Youth should be the time when dreams are staple food. Youths with a dream and a vision have a natural place in our University.

 As the Rector said this is a University which “dreams on… but we have also shown that we have the stuff to turn useful dreams into reality.”

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