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Medical students seek information

Medical students were unaware the government had come to an agreement with the University of Malta on how resources would be utilised at Mater Dei once the Barts Medical and Dental School is set up.

Student representative Alexander Clayman, who sits on the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery board, said he only learnt of the agreement after a report was published yesterday in this newspaper.

Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne announced last week that the government and the university would be signing an agreement this week outlining how the university, Mater Dei and Barts Medical School would be working in tandem.

He had been fielding questions about negotiations in relation to the eventual €200 million contract between Barts Medical School and investors Vitals Global Healthcare. (It is the agreement with the university that will be signed this week and not the actual €200 million deal as stated in the title of a story published in yesterday’s Times of Malta.)

The fourth-year medical student said that, while Mr Fearne said the government was in talks with all stakeholders, the students were not consulted and knew nothing of the agreement or its content.

“I will be calling for a meeting with the Malta Medical Students Association (MMSA), the University Students’ Council (KSU) and department head Godfrey LaFerla as soon as possible to try and find out more,” Mr Clayman said.

The student said that he was concerned the agreement would be inferior to the one Barts Medical School had with the government.

MMSA president Steve Sammut Alessi said that the association was aware that the government and the university had been in talks but they had no further information.

“Our position was clear from the start. We want the University of Malta to retain top priority.

“The faculty is trying to keep us in the loop but we still do not know what is in the agreement,” Mr Sammut Alessi said.

While the association had been involved in some discussions with the government in the past, Mr Sammut Alessi said that no specific details were ever given.

“We hope that what is in the agreement reflects what we had discussed – mainly that we don’t want education which is substandard as a result of Barts.”

Mr Fearne said the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) would only agree to sign a contract if the government and the university came to an agreement.

MAM general secretary Martin Balzan said the association was aware that the government and the university were close to an agreement but was not directly involved in the discussions.

“We will react to the agreement once we know what it says since at present we know nothing about what it says,” Dr Balzan said.

The association would continue working to ensure medical students are protected and that the university upholds its standards, Dr Balzan said.

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