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Update 2 - University dean: Stipends should go

Updated with Pulse, SDM group comments

John Betts, dean of the Faculty of Engineering, has argued that University stipends should go, and for the funds to be better used elsewhere, such as on research and laboratory equipment.

He explained that with insufficient funds, his faculty could not operate and, in the long term, would be unsustainable.

“In the best of cases, the quality of the degrees will fall drastically; in the worst, we will be reduced to a full theory-based research-free institution,” he warned. The higher the international standing of a university, the more renowned its reputation, the more paying foreign students it would attract and the easier the access to international funds.

The research budget for the University of Malta for 2012 amounted to €600,000, comparable to what was spent on the Malta Eurovision song contest, he complained.

Full story in The Times.

PULSE GROUP REACTION

Student organisation Pulse in a reaction to the dean's comments said it agreed with the concerns he had expressed  regarding the lack of investment in research facilities.

However, this should not be enhanced at the expense of stipends.

"There is a general consensus that research is a fundamental area which the University of Malta needs to have greater resources to invest in," it said.

"When tackling the financing of the University of Malta, we must make a distinction between the budget allocated to the University and the funds dedicated by the Ministry of Education specifically for stipends. It is important to assess the existing options for the generation of more funds through the University Research, Innovation and Development Trust.

"Incentives can be introduced for the private sector to support this mechanism. On the other hand, the University must start tackling the increasing number of non-Maltese residents studying at the University of Malta for free. As already described by the University authorities, the continuous rise of these type of students has added extra burden on the University’s financial state," Pulse said.

SDM REACTION

The SDM Christian Democratic Students said the stipends were a necessity for the absolute majority of University students. They  should not be seen simply as an outlay, but as an investment in education and in the country’s future.

The group insisted that education should continue to remain free of charge and students should continue to receive stipends.

The group said it agreed with the proposals by the PN and the PLto link the stipends to the cost of living index.

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