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Another resignation, another judicial protest, over ‘irresponsible behaviour’ by Sadeen

'It was the AUM’s irresponsible behaviour which brought matters to a head'

An Englishman who swapped ‘a steady employment with the Sheffield Hallam University’ for an enticing post as ‘assistant director admissions’ with the American University of Malta has resorted to a legal remedy after his new job ended up in smoke.

Jordan Daniel Aird filed a judicial protest on Wednesday wherein he explained how he had clinched the new job after a Skype interview, with a written proposal for a three-year contract against an annual salary of €45,000 effective from July 24, 2017, following suit.

Resigning his employment in England, Mr Aird travelled to Malta, first reporting for work at the AUM on August 1, 2017, only to be told that his contract of employment, although drafted, had not yet been signed by the company.

Read: Keep quiet, AUM tells dismissed lecturers

After being assured that the deed would be signed soon, Mr Aird went on a pre-booked holiday about which the company ‘was well aware’, only to discover, upon his return, that all admissions-related work had ended in his lap since Chiara Battistelli, the director admissions, was no longer working at the AUM, her employment having been ‘terminated with immediate effect’.

When confronting AUM Provost John Ryder about his yet unsigned contract, Mr Aird was told that there were problems and that the staff were ‘fighting with Sadeen’ to keep their positions.

The best the AUM could offer was a non-negotiable contract of US$45,000 per year, which worked out at around €36,252, subject to fluctuating currency rates.

This was a huge blow for Mr Aird who had left all behind him in England and entered into a lease commitment in Malta. Finding himself in such a situation, he had no other choice but to sign’.

Five days before the start of the first academic semester, Salema Ahmed, the admissions counsellor, also tendered her resignation, leaving Mr Aird ‘expected to carry out miracles’ to recruit students for the second semester.

Equipped with very limited means, having to make use of another person’s laptop and his own private phone, Mr Aird embarked on recruitment trips to Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Greece and China.

Read: AUM cuts student projections by half

Since the AUM did not replace the admissions officers who no longer worked for it, Mr Aird was inundated with work, including the “processing of all enquiries, applications, making decisions, liaising with agents and managing marketing enquiries “due to no staff being reinstated in that department”.

The resignation of Joshua Johnson as dean of student affairs, prompted Mr Aird to ask for an increase in salary, which rise when granted was still “certainly less than the €45,000 discussed and originally agreed upon in writing,” the court was told.

On January 19, the AUM offered Mr Aird the position of director of admissions with immediate effect, with a promise that he would be provided with a laptop and sufficient funding to engage other employees “in recognition of the high quality of your work and to indicate the support you have among the leadership of the university”.

However, since no promise was forthcoming as to the salary linked to the higher post, Mr Aird decided that ‘enough was enough’ and handed in his resignation with immediate effect, within the probation period.

It was the AUM’s ‘irresponsible behaviour’ which brought matters to a head and prompted Mr Aird to file the judicial protest holding Sadeen Education Investment Ltd responsible for damages.

Lawyer Michael Tanti-Dougall signed the protest.

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