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American Institute’s degree ‘equivalent to university’s’

A degree issued by the new American Institute of Malta is to have the same value as a degree from the University of Malta.

“The degrees issued by both institutions are based on the same educational criteria at their level. This means that, in terms of value, the degrees of the AIM and those of the UoM are equivalent,” the National Commission for Further and Higher Education has told the Times of Malta.

This newspaper is also informed that the application of the institute to become a fully-fledged university is still “very active”, although there is no indication yet on when a licence could be issued.

Last week, the commission issued the institute with a one-year licence so that it could start operating by offering three Bachelor’s degrees.

Originally, the plan of the Jordanian investor behind the project was to develop a 90,000-square-metre campus for the “American University of Malta” on virgin land in the area known as Żonqor in Marsacala.

However, following strong opposition by the Nationalist Party and environmental lobby groups, both the developer and the government backed down and re-dimensioned the project.

Asked to state the difference between degrees issued by the AIM and those issued from a university such as the UoM, a spokesman for the commission said there was no difference.

However, it would only be possible for AIM to gain the status of a university once it reached the required criteria. “The process for an educational facility to become a university is much more complex than the one for a higher educational institution. A university is a more holistic educational institution and the AIM is still not at that stage yet,” the commission said.

According to law, a higher education institution needs to meet four criteria for accreditation, including the need to offer at least three courses. On the other hand, a university accreditation requires at least five courses to be offered as well as an element of research.

Until a few months ago, the criteria for a university included the need for 10 courses. However, these criteria have been lowered to five.

The American University of Malta’s application, submitted last February, is for 10 courses including one at PhD level, accord­ing to the commission. “This application is still in the pipeline and the applicants have already submitted much of the reference material we asked for,” it said.

The licence to operate as an institution is temporary as the owners have still to notify the commission of the premises they will be using to start operations.

“The aim is to start this year but we are not yet informed about the premises,” the spokesman said.

The government had originally said that, until the new campus is built, the institution will start operating from Smart City.

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