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Pulse: bar foreign students from stipend system

Student organisation Pulse has suggested non-Maltese EU citizens should not be entitled to free education at the University of Malta, saying the “continuous rise” in such students is draining university coffers.

The University must tackle the number of non-Maltese residents studying for free

“The University must start tackling the increasing number of non-Maltese residents studying at the University of Malta for free,” a Pulse statement read, noting that University authorities had already mentioned the matter in the past.

Last November, rector Juanito Camilleri had warned that having any further applicants to study medicine in Malta would put a strain on clinical placements.

The Faculty of Medicine received 140 applications from UK students alone, with 42 making the cut.

University is free to all Maltese – and therefore EU – students. Furthermore, most courses do not restrict entry numbers, meaning any student with the necessary qualifications is granted a place.

Monthly stipends range between €84 and €147 and are limited to students who have lived in Malta for at least five years from the start of their studies.

Pulse agreed with Engineering Faculty dean John Betts that research funding needed bolstering, but warned that this could not be at stipends’ expense.

Dr Betts told The Times the millions spent on student stipends should instead be allocated to university research and laboratory investment, noting that the University of Malta’s research capacity remained“limited” and arguing that only financially disadvantaged students should be given a monthly cash handout.

But both Pulse and rival student organisation SDM insisted that stipends were off-limits, with Pulse saying they were “vital” to increase the number of students going on to tertiary education and arguing that stipends and research funds did not stem from the same funding pool.

“We must make a distinction between the budget allocated to the University and funds dedicated by the Education Ministry specifically for stipends,” the statement said.

The Government spends approximately €23 million a year on the stipend system.

Last year, the University’s entire research budget reached €600,000.

SDM were even more categorical, saying “any reform in educational spending, as good as it may be, must never touch stipends”, which it said were “non-negotiable”.

The organisation cited a survey it conducted in which 89.5 per cent of students had claimed their stipend was “a necessity”, although it did not provide a link to the study.

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