Graduation ceremonies postponed, but academic year will start in October

The University of Malta has announced that gradation ceremonies which were to take place in November/December of this year will be postponed to next year because of the uncertainties related to COVID-19.

University Rector, Prof Alfred Vella said that the Senate had decided that the thanksgiving Mass and the ceremonies will take place in February/March. 2021 according to the public health situation.

At the same time, preparations for the new academic year have continued, with Television Malta conforming with the Pro-Rector of the University, Prof Carmen Sammut, that unless unexpected circumstances arise, the new academic year will start as scheduled in October.

The University has begun receiving applications from prospective students for the next academic year.”Lectures will start on 19 October for many of the courses, while those which have certain course requirements such as medicine and dentistry,  they will begin in November…but we need to bear in mind that every decision we take can disappear and we might have to adapt once again.”

Applicants can enter University provisionally even if they do not have the qualifications required because during the pandemic the MATSEC exams were postponed. “Results will not be out by then, but students can still enter their course if they feel that they did well enough to start, so they can enter on a probation basis and will have the chance to remain on probation, but obviously if they do not manage to obtain the required marks in the re-sits or during the course, then they cannot continue.”

Asked whether adjusting the criteria for entry into University will be creating an unfair situation, Prof Sammut pointed out that students have had to finish their studies in an unprecedented situation.

“We will open the academic year on a probation basis, but at the same time the University needs to maintain its standards even in the interests of its students, as we do not want anyone to graduate this year and then some time in the future someone will say, oh those were students from the Covid period, and therefore their certificates will be considered inferior to those of others.”

When she was asked whether the online content will be increased, the Pro-Rector said that this is a possibility which will be studied. “Right now a study is being undertaken on the way academics experienced online teaching and how students experienced it; while we will continue to be a teaching university because we have a 250 year history of teaching face to face, at the same time we need to see what we have learned over the last few months.”

TVM also spoke with the University’s administrative official Marco Tabone, who confirmed that this year there will be 20 new courses. “Some of them are Masters courses and some are undergraduate, such as the Bachelor of Arts in Public Management, and Bachelor of arts in Disability Studies and Psychologies.”

Mr Tabone said some of these courses will be online.