“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.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD)

The KSU Education Office has embarked on an information campaign with regards to Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) in collaboration with the University of Malta Library. The ETD project started in 2008 with the Library including one or two faculty(ies)/Institute(s)/Centre(s) per year.
The info-graphic communicates the method through which ETD access can be achieved and also portrays the list Faculties/Institutes/Centres/Schools which are currently part of the project. Go through this info-graphic for facilitated learning of ETD access on the Library’s one-stop search engine – HyDi.
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The on-line dissertations are currently available on the UoM intranet. The steps have been achieved with the support of I.T. Services and as from January 2014, some 2000 electronic dissertations are now available.  By using the I.T. Services username and password academics, students and support staff can access the full-text dissertations of faculties and institutes detailed below:
  1. Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research
  2. Faculty for Social WellBeing
  3. Faculty of Arts
  4. Faculty of Economics, Management & Accountancy
  5. Faculty of Education
  6. Faculty of Health Sciences
  7. Faculty of Laws
  8. Faculty of Theology
  9. Institute for Sustainable Development
  10. Institute for Tourism, Travel and Culture
  11. Institute of Maltese Studies
  12. Institute of Physical Education & Sports
  13. Islands and Small States Institute
  14. Mediterranean Institute
  15. School of Performing Arts
The electronic dissertations can be accessed through HyDi, by narrowing down the search to Dissertations.  For example: –
  • Type in the words Malta AND* woman in All Resources – * AND must be written in capital letters
  • Restrict the search to Dissertations
  • Press Search
  • The result shows a list of print and online dissertations.  The print dissertations can be view inside the Melitensia Department whilst the online dissertations can be viewed by clicking on the View Online button.
  • A new window will appear showing the Use Policy
  • Read the Use Policy
  • Click on I Accept
  • The full-text dissertation will appear on your screen.
For 2014, the Faculty for Media & Knowledge Sciences and the Institute of Sustainable Energy will become part of this project.  This project includes various stakeholders, namely Deans, academics, students, support staff and the Library.  Training at student level is given in the first year of implementation in the said faculty/institute/centre.  Training is also offered to academics and support staff every year.For queries related to ETDs, please contact Library on dissertations.lib@um.edu.mt.

Extended Library Hours (incl. Earlier Opening Hours) – May/June 2014

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KSU is once again collaborating with the University of Malta Library to bring you another session of Extended Library Hours from 5th May to 14th June 2014!

For the second time round, opening hours shall start from 8:30am rather 9:00am .

The opening hours for the May/June 2014 Extended Library Hours session will be the following:

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KSU would like to encourage all University students to make most benefit out of this service. Please also take note of the following message from the Library Administration:

Dear Student,

Exams are approaching and the amount of patrons visiting the Library for research and study increases substantially.  In this regard, the staffs of the University of Malta Library want you to feel comfortable while pursuing your studies in our buildings.  The following rules are intended to balance the needs of the Library with the convenience to our users.

  1. Observe the silent study areas and be considerate of others by helping to maintain an atmosphere of quiet.
  2. Food or drink (except water) is not allowed in the Library.  Food and drink can damage library material, equipment and furnishings, and it may disturb other library users.
  3. Due to the limited amount of lockers, every student is required to empty the locker and return the key on a daily basis.

Please observe these rules and encourage others to do so as well.

The Management 

KSU thanks the UoM Library administration for their consistent cooperation and urges students using the Library to behave appropriately and respect the staff and students making use of this facility.

Don’t Let Anyone Trample Over Your Rights!

This is KSU’s message to the University student. The purpose of this message is not to alarmingly suggest that the University of Malta is putting the student’s rights at stake in some way. The purpose of this message is targeted to raise awareness of the importance of self-respect and dignity for the University student.

React intelligently to situations were you feel you rights are undermined. Remember that KSU is there purposefully to be of support to you as a student! KSU is your council, and although it is typically committed in organising activities for self sustenance, it is largely focused in maintaining a supportive role for the student’s University experience.

KSU wanted to make this reminder more visual and even more present in the University students’ hangout – Student’s House!

Floor Sticker

And what are the means to communicate your concerns to KSU? Be comfortable and do any of the following:

  • Come at KSU office to speak directly to us!
  • Email us on education@ksu.org.mt
  • Acess our Online Complaint System and submit an academic complaint ticket.

To help you even more with the Online Complaint System, KSU has prepared the below info-graphic as a handy guidance. For a more detailed guidance, please view this Education Blog entry.

Don’t let anyone trample over your rights!

Ksu_Inforgraphic_ComplaintSystem

The Online Academic Complaint System

The Online Complaint System is a KSU Education office initiative which provides a hub for students to create and submit an academic complaint ticket. This allows an efficient way in which KSU can follow  up on the progress of each ticket and ensure a timely resolution.

This year the system was improved by roping in student representatives as virtual participants in the system. This will allow the Education Office to cooperate more closely with student reps by assigning complaint tickets from the relevant Faculties and Institutes. The info-graphic below is part of a campaign to raise awareness of the system and how to use it.

Ksu_Inforgraphic_ComplaintSystem

 

 The Education Office is providing you with a detailed stepwise guidance through this article. Follow these steps to learn how to submit an academic complaint when the need arises.

Step 1: Access KSU’s official portal – http://www.ksu.org.mt.

Step 1

Step 2: Access the complaints section on the portal’s home page.

Step 2

A number of quick links are available on KSU’s portal home page. These links guide the students to a number of practical services which are of their interest. To learn more about the complaint system, the ways and means of voicing a complaint and to whom you’d like to voice your concern, select read more on the ‘Complaints’ tab.

Step 3

The tab will provide you with general information about complaints. There are three main categories of recipients to whom students might want to contact. These are:

  • Faculty/Institute Student Representatives
  • Student Organisations
  • KSU’s Education Office

Each of the options above provides you with all the relevant information a student needs to set up a contact point between himself/herself and the complaint recipient.

For students who would like to keep their personal information undisclosed , there is also the ‘Anonymous Complaint’ option.

Step 3: Login to your KSU profile

At the bottom of each page of KSU’s portal, there is the constant option to access your personal KSU profile. You might remember accessing this in order to apply for your parking permit. Aside from the parking permit, the KSU profile provides a number of other services, including the submission of academic complaints.

Step 3-1

Once you login successfully you will be led to your KSU profile page where a number of options are available. One of the option tabs is ‘Academic Complaints’ where you can easily submit a complaint or else view past complaints and their status of resolve


Step 3-2
Step 4: Submitting an Academic Complaint.

From the mentioned optioned, the student can easily choose ‘Submit an academic complaint’ which will provide the interface. The complaint system functions on behalf of a simple form in which details relevant to the complaint are filled.

Step 4

Once the complaint has been submitted it will be reaching the education office which will keep close contact with the author of the complaint in order to reach an effective resolution in the shortest time possible.

Step 5: Follow-up your complaint.

Once submitted, the education office will receive your complaint and if deemed feasible your complaint may be assigned to the respective faculty/institute student representatives. However, if a matter is general or urgent, the KSU education office will mostly deal with it.

Your complaint submission will open a communication thread with the Education Office. The thread will be assigned a status tag dependent on the progress which has been achieved in dealing with the complaint. It is important that you follow-up progress on the complaint by regularly checking on it and replying to the education office when required.

Using the tool wisely!

The more appropriately the tool is used, the more effective will be its results. The tools purpose is to create an important communication bridge between students but misuse may lead to its loss of purpose. The tool should be used only for academic-related issues and students should not opt for this tool to ask general queries. Here are some tips which may help an effective use of the tool:

  • Make sure that your issue of concern has grounds for an academic complaint.
  • Student representatives can be very supportive in this area. Look into communication with them prior to the Education Office.
  • Provide accurate details related to yourself and the subject of complaint.
  • Explain yourself as concise as possible however feed in all the relevant information. Make sure that the complaint recipient (Education office) can clearly understand your concern.
  • Follow-up your complaint by providing regular input when asked to.
  • If a meeting is required to discuss the issue, do make yourself available.
  • Be as objective as possible!

The Student’s Charter

One of the main aims of KSU, as clearly indicated in its statute, is working to protect students’ rights, which are outlined in this Students’ Charter. The education office has always been an active body in KSU, working closely with students, listening to their queries and providing advice. The Students’ Charter is an essential reference tool which helps them understand what their rights and duties are.

The Student’s Charter is a document which enlists the rights and responsibilities of the University of Malta student, the responsibilities of the University of Malta towards its students and also the responsibilities of KSU as the official representative of the student body.  The Students’ Charter outlines the unique relationship between the University and its students as equal stakeholders in higher education. It illustrates the entitlements and responsibilities of both, as well as provides a framework for the University to develop and improve its services, where appropriate.

It is in the University of Malta’s interest to safeguard the well-being of students and therefore the University advocates the guidelines outlined in the Student’s Charter. The University is expected to  foster this amongst its academics in order to extend the University’s views across the exercising of its duties and service to students.

KSU believes that a positive step would be the formal recognition of the Student’s Charter in the Academic Staff Collective Agreement. This would signify an act of goodwill from the academics/University of Malta’s side to ensure that the guidelines in the Student’s Charter are being implemented. KSU is holding the necessary discussions during the current renegotiation of the collective agreement so that the above proposal may be included as a provision.

This KSU proposal is being voiced in the spirit of creating a more widespread commitment toward the well-being and protection of the University of Malta student.

KSU meets Gozo Pro-Rector

In the spirit of identifying areas of improvement for the benefit of the Gozitan student body, KSU has recently met Gozo Pro-Rector Prof. Joe Friggieri. The talks with Prof. Friggieri provided interesting insight on current efforts by UoM with regards to services towards Gozitan students.

KSU must again highlight and recognize the pronounced increase in the number of students which are allowed to the exams in Gozo. This initiative first saw the light of day following pressures by Gozitan students themselves through Grupp Universitarji Ghawdxin (GUG) where KSU has constantly shown its support. Since then, it has been continued and improved upon and we are now seeing a record number of students being able to do their exams in Gozo.

During the meeting, the Gozo Campus Library was discussed and it was highlighted that an area of improvement would be the addition of computer facilities. In light of this, KSU will be seeking support from Library and IT Services in order to look into the possibility of further investment in the area. KSU will also plan for a scheme through which printed resources at the Gozo library may increase.

Currently, UoM offers video-conferencing facilities to groups of Gozitan students following courses from Gozo. One must appreciate the logistical challenge of video-conferenced lectures and this is therefore available where justified, such as where the number of students at the receiving end is reasonable. This is currently implemented for a number of postgraduate courses such as evening courses and was found to work quite well. In light of this, an increase in video-conferencing units can be a good step forward in improving the facilities available. KSU will be seeking support from IT Services in order to assess the possibility of increase in such facilities.

At the same time, KSU is also working on increasing promotion of the online (e-learning) academic tools at UoM. Among these lies the uploading of assignments to VLE, an initiative which is expected to benefitGozitan students significantly.

On a sidenote, it was concluded that Gozo campus could also benefit from project by KSU which supports students’ daily lives at University. Therefore KSU is currently liasing with Precincts Office in order to extend its water fountain project by installing one at Gozo Campus.

Prof. Friggieri augured that KSU continues its effort in representing students. In the spirit of collaboration, KSU will also maintain contact with GUG so that improvements for Gozitan students can be sought collectively.