“Students are not Chess Pawns”

Kunsill Stundenti Universitarji (KSU) has been following closely the industrial dispute between MUT, UMASA, University of Malta and the Government of Malta after unfruitful Collective agreement negotiations.  The disagreement centred around the financial package, which according to MUT was “less than the increases given to other public entities”.

Time frame of events:

30th June 2014: MUT and UMASA declared a trade dispute with the University of Malta and Government of Malta as they did not receive any feedback on their  proposals regarding the financial package for the collective agreement. According to the lecturers this resulted in a deadlock in negotiations. KSU issued a press release, reiterating what had been stated in 2008, that students should not be used as a bargaining tool. The council has also communicated with both unions, the Ministry for Education and Employment and also with the University of Malta Rector.

1st July 2014: MUT and UMASA have been informed by the Governmnet  that a counter offer would be presented by that Thursday, latest Friday. Therefore the mentioned unions have decided to suspend the industrial actions.

3rd July 2014: KSU had an urgent meeting with Hon. Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment, during which he assured the council that this dispute will be solved until the day after  following the counter proposal given by the Ministry of Finance and PACBU.

4th July 2014: A financial proposal from the University of Malta and the Government was received by MUT and UMASA, in relation to the Collective Agreement negotiations. The received proposals were not satisfying for the Unions as they described them as: “far off from what the Unions expected but is also less than the increases given to other public entities.” The unions re-instituted industrial action in both the University of Malta and Junior College. KSU issued another press release titled “Don’t Trample on our Rights!”, in which it states that students rights should be protected.

5th July 2014:  Gayle Lynn Callus, President of KSU called an urgent KE/KPS meeting during which it was agreed that this is an urgent matter and a KE meeting should be called.

Infographic Timeline explaining the events which took place in Collective Agreement industrial dispute

Infographic Timeline explaining the events which took place in Collective Agreement industrial dispute

7th September: KSU had met with Prof. Juanito Camilleri and Prof. Mary Anne Lauri, the University of Malta Rector and Pro-Rector respectively. During this meeting this issue was discussed. The  KSU Education Office called an urgent Kummissjoni Edukazzjoni (KE) meeting during which a KSU final position was agreed on. The council issued another press release: “Students are not Chess Pawns”. It was stated that KSU should not take sides, however, the students’ main concern regarding this issue is that students are always used as a leverage in such discussion and urged all stake holders to return to the table of negotiations. This press release was also supported by a number of Student Organisations: ASA, ASCS, CSA, ELSA, ESN, GUG, GħSL, GħST,  ICTSA JEF Malta, KSJC, MHSA, MMSA, MPSA, MUSC, Pulse, SACES, S3 , SDM, TDM 2000 Malta, TSA, UESA, We Are.

Press Release issued by KSU: "Students are not Chess Pawns"

Press Release issued by KSU: “Students are not Chess Pawns”

KSU is continuing to follow this issue and will take further steps, which were discussed during the last KE meeting, to make more pressure and stop all the stake holders from continuing to use the student as a bargaining tool.


Save Erasmus!

This article is part of a series of articles which are being written by the KSU International Office as part of a collaborative effort with the KSU Education Office. It comes at a time when the Erasmus programme is facing long-term uncertainties due to issues with funding from member states.

However, the KSU Education Office would like to point out that despite the current scenario, funding for this academic year has already been secured and local students will still be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

KSU is supporting the European Commission in encouraging EU leaders to sustain the Erasmus programme. If current 2012/3 budgets will not be increased, thousands might potentially miss their chance on a once in a life time opportunity.

This news comes at a time where unemployment amongst youth has substantially increased since the economic crisis and now more than 5 million youths are without a job. KSU thus insists on more investment in education as a solution to the crisis. The ‘Erasmus For All’ programme, set to start in 2014 should tackle this situation and should seek to increase youth opportunity and work on employability.

KSU’s appeal is one; Save Erasmus as well as increase funding for education and youth. This might not be an easy decision and results might not be clear, however in investing in students and young people, Europe will be investing in a better future for all. KSU is in contact with the EU Commission Representation in Malta who are taking part in its own campaign of getting celebrities amongst Europe to sign and a letter for more Erasmus.

KSU is also endorsing the goals of Fraternité 2020 initiative which asks for more funds available for EU exchange programmes, makes sure programmes develop more skills among participants as well as tracks progress in the field of mobility through better monitoring. We encourage everyone to sign the very first European Citizens’ Initiative here: http://en.fraternite2020.eu/sign.html

KSU Proposes More Resources for Assessment Correction

Press Release – 21/09/2012

KSU is in full agreement with the MATSEC board and support unit’s call for discussion on all aspects on assessment procedures. In light of recent complaints and numerous queries dealt with by KSU, the council agrees that this area should be revisited and an analysis of current sufficiency of resources be carried out.

Specifically in the cases for the University of Malta and Junior College, KSU agrees that more human resources as well as funding should be made available to facilitate the correction of exam papers as well as ease the logistical burden created by revision of paper applications.

Furthermore, KSU encourages both the MATSEC board and University administration to make available more clear information on current assessment correction practices so as to ensure greater public understanding of the procedures involved. Incidentally, the KSU Education Office this year intends to collaborate with University administration and discuss ways forward on how students can be better informed about the assessments protocols which have been adopted.

KSU Reaction to Education Act Reform

Press Release – 16/08/2012

KSU notes with satisfaction that through the hard work of past and current KSU Executive bodies, the council has succeeded in achieving new standards in student representation at the University of Malta. Through a series of recommendations passed on to Parliament during the debates on the Education Act Reform this year, the following changes have been implemented into the new Education Act which came into force on the 1st of August 2012:

  • The addition of one (1) student representative on Council (previously two (2) representatives) at least one of whom shall be a post-graduate student.
  • The addition of one (1) student representative on Senate (previously four (4) representatives) at least two of whom shall be post-graduate students
  • The addition of one (1) student representative on every Faculty Board (previously two (2) representatives) at least one of whom shall be a postgraduate student

KSU holds that, through the positive changes listed above, student representation has become more comprehensive, encompassing more of the current student population. Furthermore, KSU hopes that the role of such student representatives will continue to be an essential feature in the system of checks and balances at the University of Malta,  retaining their role as the diplomatic bridge between students and administration.

In addition to the above mentioned changes, the Education Act reform is also to include further important improvements in the spheres of quality assurance; accreditation regulations and non-formal and informal learning.

KSU looks forward to continue giving its valuable contributions and recommendations in order to introduce further improvements, while maximising the students’ voice as the direct stakeholders in Higher Education and fulfilling its aim of being the sole representative of all students at the University of Malta.

Finally, KSU believes that all above mentioned amendments are healthy and much-needed developments, which will lead to a more comprehensive lifelong learning experience and, ultimately, a more holistic and inclusive Higher Education system.

KSU Helps Negotiate Transitional Period for Law Course Reform

Press Release – 17/08/2012

KSU welcomes the news that law students who are currently reading for the Degree of Bachelor of Laws will not be affected by the new changes in local legislation.

In a series of meetings and discussions with all the relevant stakeholders, including the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Education and Employment, the Faculty of Laws and several law students, KSU emphasised that the students following the course would be adversely affected by some of the proposed changes. This news today is highly welcomed since it will enable an adequate transitional period between the old and new legislation, thereby avoiding any negative impact on students.

On a final note, KSU also welcomes the new changes and proposals in the Law course structure, which KSU has been pushing for a number of years and which will finally bring the Law course more in line with Bologna Process requirements. In addition, KSU feels that such proposed reforms offer more regularized practices and will bring about new opportunities for student mobility and further higher education.

Disappointment at the organisation of Student Representatives’ Elections 2011

This letter was sent to Ms. Maria Filletti, from KSU’s Education Office, regarding the organisation of the Student Representatives’ Elections 2011. We believe better organisation of these elections would result in a larger number of nominations and better participation by the Student Body, in what is a fundamentally important aspect of Student Representation and participation in the Tertiary Education Sector as equal stakeholders.

We would greatly appreciate your comments on the matter.

Dear Ms. Filletti,

I am emailing because I would like to express my disappointment at the news I heard that the list of nominated Student Representatives for each vacant post would be published on Friday. I believe that Friday is too late a day for such information to be published, especially given that it is the last day of the week, giving nominated students very little time to campaign till the following Wednesday 30th, when the elections are held.

As we all know, greater and better student representation leads to less problems down the line, particularly because student representatives aide communication between members of staff at university and students. Unfortunately, this opportunity was already jeopardised by allowing students to think about running for just under a week, which is the amount of time between when the call for applications was emailed and the nominations closed. This is definitely not enough time, as was expressed during our preliminary meeting with you during Fresher’s Week, especially since being a Student Representative is quite a commitment indeed.

Apart from this, I was disappointed with the formatting of the email sent to all students, informing them of the vacancies. I believe the email could have been made more appealing to students, which might have possibly encouraged them to involve themselves more. There is no mention of the nomination deadline on the email sent to students, and no indication of where the nomination forms need to be given in. One has to dig into the Notice present on the University of Malta website to find such information. There is also no information on the front page of the University of Malta Website, even though such an event is an extremely important one.

Finally, I was disappointed by when the election dates and vacancies were announced, hardly two weeks prior to the elections themselves. Once again, this is not enough time to encourage students to run or vote during these elections. Apart from this, I was disappointed to hear that voting rooms will be closing for an hour between 1PM and 2PM, as this might lead to some students not voting, apart from the fact that voting closes at 6PM, when some part time course students would not yet be present on campus, effectively eliminating them from being able to participate in the voting. 

I believe that together with KSU, the University of Malta can do it’s part of promotion by emailing students more appealing emails and by creating better promotions for student representatives posts, together with the promotion we always do as KSU. This would hopefully entice more students to run for student reps and possibly even more to participate in the voting process.

Kind Regards,

Luke Buttigieg
KSU Education Coordinator

Anonymous Complaint Feedback: Degree classification of B.Sc. (Hons.) Biology & Chemistry

In July, KSU’s Education Office had received a complaint regarding the allegedly unfair way of classifying the final class of the mentioned degree program, claiming that the vast majority were awarded a Second Lower.

We are pleased to announce that the Faculty of Science has sent us a detailed reply regarding the matter, and we encourage interested students to email us on education@ksu.org.mt to obtain more information.