Foreign students praise the way University of Malta adapted to teaching during pandemic

During the last academic year, the University o f Malta had around 1,500 international students following courses. Like all other students, this year their studies were affected by the pandemic.  In these circumstances around one-third of international students went back to their countries where it was possible for them to continue following their course online.

Five years ago, Shayma Shamo  from Kuwait, won a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Malta.

“It’s English speaking, and it’s a European university so I can work in Europe especially as a non-European citizen, and it’s UK affiliated,” said Shayma Shamo.

Because of Covid, one-third of foreign students returned to their home countries. Shayma Shamo praised the way the University of Malta adapted its courses so that they could continue.

“I’d really like it if they had to utilise these online lectures and online education it was really nice. I remember there were lectures for three four hours, it wasn’t exhausting and it was engaging, the University of Malta should utilise online education,” she added.

International students range from Erasmus exchange students to others following courses at various levels.

The officer responsible for the International Office at University, Stefania Fabri, said that the most popular courses among foreign studies are medicine, IT, commerce and engineering. Half of the international students come from the UK and Europe and the other half come from outside of the EU, namely Kuwait, the Middle East, North Africa, the US, China and Russia.

“They go for courses which have portability, for example if you study engineering here in Malta you can work with that degree as an engineer wherever you wish,” said Stefania Fabri.

Asked whether foreign students are preferred because they pay for their courses, Mrs Fabri said that every application goes through a process of careful scrutiny  so there will not be a varying range of levels in the skills and competences of students, no matter where they come from.

“When we look at applications from International students, we look at their qualifications to ensure that they are entering at the same level as Maltese students. We do not lower the level and accept ten or 20 just because they are going to be paying students. The evaluation is not done according to whether one can pay, but we ensure that they have the qualifications to succeed,” she explained.

Preparations for the new academic year have already started. Despite the fact that the University said that it will continue to adjust to the circumstances of the pandemic, it is also planning to open its doors to international students. Mrs Fabri said that an evaluation is also being made on how online teaching can continue to be strengthened.

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