Among the ranking of higher education institutions in the world, the University of Malta placed among the top one thousand.
University rector Alfred Vella, said that this meant that in three and a half years, the University had advanced nearly four hundred places. He explained that the classification gave a lot of weight to the research conducted by the University.
“Almost 70% goes to the quality and quantity of research carried out. The reason we are now visible and are in the first 3% of 28,000 universities worldwide, is because in spite of the limitations we have in the field of research, we are punching well above our weight. ”
The rector said he hoped that in a few years the University would rank in the first 500. He explained that a key factor was improving access to European funds for which more research was being undertaken, as well as an increase in staff.
“When you employ someone, you are employing that person to teach students, but you also expect him to carry out research and publish it and for his research to be out there.”
Professor Vella said the university was investing in more research laboratories in the fields of engineering, science and medicine. He mentioned key research that was being conducted on cancer in the field of medicine, and one which could yield positive results in the future.
“There is research which concerns renewable energy from the sun and wind. In this particular camp, I am confident that this research can lead to a good return even for the university.”
Professor Vella said negotiations with the government for more public funding for research were ongoing. He identified a major challenge as a result of the country’s good economic performance, with fewer people willing to embark on university research.
“The economy is pulling them like a vacuum cleaner. Barely out of school, they find a job and leave the world of studying behind. In fact most students are foreigners, we are bringing them to Malta to carry out research because there aren’t enough people locally.”
What also helped in the ranking was the fact that 10% of 12,000 students at Tal-Qroqq are foreigners and there are also a number of foreign employees. When asked about space issues, the rector said they were exploring ways of developing land which they possessed, even in Marsaxlokk where there were plans for an energy laboratory.