Business interests and the aims of tertiary education are not initially similar or even remotely , related at an initial and cursory first glance. However, upon further evaluation one will come to the conclusion that the two are mutually connected and the possibilities for gain for both parties can lead to a situation where cooperation is the only way forward in the near future.
The current situation in the Maltese Islands is such that various university departments suffer from a chronic lack of funding due the limited resources available and the fact that the University of Malta has little sources of income, save for tuition fees charges to overseas(non-EU) students and certain evening and part-time courses.
Without going into the politics of it all, we are currently punching above our weight, taking into consideration the small pool of students and lecturers at hand, and the quality of graduands has improved greatly.
The next step must involve external funding, on a level to that similar in the United States. Various industry and business leaders often complain of a chronic shortage of quality and specialised graduands. One manner in which this might be solved could be by having companies sponsor courses in fields where we have little or no current expertise, and then allow these same companies to offer job opportunities to the students prior to the course completion, even have the students undergo work placements at these companies as part of the course curriculum. Alternatively, companies might be allowed to sponsor a chair in a particular area, and be given the opportunity to promote themselves to students in a regulated environment.
Opponents to this might state that education must never be subservient to financial interests and pressures, and they may be right. However, such an arrangement, or a derivative of the above idea, might be the only way in which our minute country can continue to punch above its weight in the field of tertiary education.
John Vella B.Pharm. (Hons.) M.Sc.(Pharmacoeconomics)
8, Islets Promenade, Bugibba, SPB2502, Malta
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