Students discuss stipend policies with Minister Evarist Bartolo

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Kunsill Studenti Universitarji, KSU, representatives met the Minister for Education, Evarist Bartolo and the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry, Mr Alfred Camilleri, on two separate days, to discuss a number of issues pertaining to the student maintenance grant. The four main issues brought forward include balanced compensation for course expenses, prescribed courses, the 20 hour work limit for Maintenance Grant eligibility, and stipend for a second undergraduate course.

A report compiled by a number of student organisations and student representatives identified a number of courses that require a substantial amount of money in order to be able to complete them successfully, and hence, in Education Commission, KE, discussions, it was concluded that this difference should be proportionately reflected in their Maintenance Grant. This would ensure that no student is hindered from taking up certain courses because they do not have the financial means. While those following prescribed courses have higher grants than others, the report stated that there are no public or official guidelines as to how prescribed courses are selected.

Furthermore, the report also points out the fact that students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week in order to still be eligible for the Student Maintenance Grant. The student organisations and representatives stated that extending the limit to 30 hours per week would allow the students to be more active in their work place, making them more employable and self-sufficient, while preventing abuses of the system in place.

The report also points to inconsistencies regarding stipend given to students who enrol to a second undergraduate course. It states that “There are instances where students who are in the same course are given a stipend whilst others are not, simply because of having previously completed a different course”. The organisations and representatives claimed that this leads to inequality and should hence be rectified immediately.

In a press release, KSU stated that Minister Bartolo informed them that he will be holding a meeting with the Minister of Finance to discuss these issues. The Society of Architecture and Civil Engineering Students, SACES, Malta Medical Students Association, MMSA, Malta Association of Dental Surgery, MADS, and Malta Association for Knowledge and Education, MAKE, together with student representatives from Linguistics and Earth systems worked on this report.

Written by

Michela Cutajar

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