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Together we mean business

The University of Malta and the Malta Chamber Foundation recently signed a memorandum of un-derstanding (MoU) that recognises the ongoing relationship between the two and will provide a framework for colla-borative research, educational program­mes, business initiatives, and the pooling of resources and expert support for the implementation of identified initiatives.

The purpose of the initiative is to ensure students are better prepared for the world of work

The MoU was the result of a joint working group between the University and the Malta Chamber, which during the past year was already working on a number of initiatives.

Over the years, the University has widened its areas of training, equipping Malta with professionals and leaders who provide the foundations of our society and economy.

However, while aware of its teaching vocation, a modern-day University must not only provide graduates for today’s jobs but must help create tomorrow’s jobs for its graduates.

Indeed, graduates must not only see themselves as prospective employees but a growing number of them must envision themselves as pros­pective employers and entrepreneurs.

The University of Malta today offers circa 700 degree and diploma programmes, a growing number of postgraduate studies and an increasing amount of evening programmes catering for the working community seeking continuous education.

With well over 3,000 students graduating every year, high standards are ensured as all the degree programmes are annually subjected to international external examiner reviews.

The feedback the University receives shows that it is giving its students a very solid grounding in the respective disciplines.

This is further affirmed through the increasing number of dual and joint degree programmes with very prestigious counterparts in Europe, the US and the Far East.

The University of Malta is gradually being transformed into a third generation university built on three main pillars: teaching and learning; research and innovation; and active participation in the equitable and sustainable development of society and the economy.

The key to this transition is the provision of first-rate edu­cation of international standing founded in creativity, research and innovation.

Without becoming overly utilitarian, the University must perforce not only be in synch with today’s industry, it should be incubating tomorrow’s industries through its research, technology transfer and innovation.

Along the years, the number of University-industry projects and initiatives has steadily increased.

In service of this, a few years ago the University set up a Knowledge Transfer Office specifically briefed to seek meaningful partnerships with local and foreign companies in a number of fields. Setting up the University Research, Innovation and Development Trust Fund has created a complementary tax-efficient instrument to facilitate industry’s contribution to the University’s ongoing initiatives.

The signing of the MoU will give the University and the Malta Chamber the opportunity to join forces in developing policy and putting forward recommendations to policymakers.

It is in the interest of both institutions to take a common and firm stand on issues of strategic importance since the sustainability of the economy and the relevance of academic preparation are closely related.

In this regard, ongoing discussions between the Malta Chamber and the Faculty of Engineering are being held in order to set up a framework to provide internships to University students reading their engineering degree.

The purpose of such an initiative is to ensure that students are better prepared for the world of work and also to explore proposals to enhance student preparation beyond technical subjects, including soft skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving and people management.

The Malta Chamber has also assisted the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy with regard to research conducted in relation to the manufacturing sector in Malta.

The Chamber supported the faculty’s research by providing constant feedback on its study from an applied perspective.

It is important to note that the conclusions of the faculty report were almost identical to those conducted by the Malta Chamber when seeking to provide feedback to Malta Enterprise in view of a future industrial policy for Malta.

The Malta Chamber’s internationalisation committee was also recently engaged in discussions with the faculty to pursue further cooperation on various initiatives such as scope and implementation of a “resource and skills” gap analysis of the investment, support services/products and people skills faced by local firms with an internationalisation agenda.

No doubt, the dialogue being fostered between the University and the Malta Chamber will also see these institutions working closely with policymakers to ensure that the right milieu is created to secure sustainable and equitable prospects for future generations.

Helga Ellul is chairman of the Malta Chamber Foundation and Juanito Camilleri is Rector of the University of Malta.

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