Gozitan students, unlike most other students, have to leave their parents’ nest at 18 years of age, in order to further their studies. A pressing issue on their shoulders is the finances required to move to the bigger sister island.
One of the greatest burdens is finding an affordable mousehole. Yes, mousehole, because frankly we look for the minimum required to live, as that’s all most of us can afford. According to some advertisements for property to rent in Msida, a bed in a shared room will cost them from €200 to €300 a month. Utilities add up to around €20 a month and food totals to €50 a week.
The government provides us with €500 every three months. Clearly this is not enough. Rent totals to a minimum of €600 over these three months. This is not to mention the other €600 spent on food and utilities every three months. Usually parents or guardians have to help these students financially for them to be able to survive and study in Malta. Some students work tirelessly in summer in order to have enough money to cover their stay in Malta during the scholastic year. These issues automatically raises questions regarding solutions that may aid Gozitan students who have no choice but to put up with such a harsh environment.
The fact that us students live on our own while studying and having to take care of ourselves and the place we rent in Malta proves that we simply cannot possibly have enough time for a part time job to cover these expenses. If these students’ parents cannot help them financially, they have no choice but to forfeit tertiary studies, thus making studying at the University of Malta exclusively for the elite.
Recently, the Diocese proclaimed that two hostels will be available for Gozitan students to rent a room in during the scholastic year. One will be in Gzira for female students, consisting of seven single bedrooms and 3 shared bathrooms. The male student hostel that will be situated in Gwardamangia, which is still under construction, will have six double bedrooms with two individual bedrooms and each room will have its own bathroom. Each hostel will have a shared kitchen equipped with a washing machine. One can rent a bed at €100, covering accommodation and utilities. Students chosen will be informed by the 26th of September.
What most students are wondering is how these students will be chosen. A lot of students will want to rent a room in these hostels, however not many rooms available. How will the those not chosen find another place? Finding a place is definitely not an easy task and takes a long time. The 26th of September is way too late for someone who is starting university to look for an apartment. These students will end up without a place or will have to rent a terribly expensive place no one wanted to rent.
Another issue that highly bothers me is the separation of genders. Why do the students have to be separated according to their gender? What about transgender people and non-binary individuals? I believe this comes to show that this initiative works “perfectly fine” as long as you conform to gender binaries and heterosexuality. This is quite a bold and distasteful attack on the Gozitan LGBTIQ+ community.
All in all, may this initiative be a good investment in the future of the Gozitan student. Personally, I will not be using it. I just cannot fully support an initiative that does not cater to my community, but if it helps others, with some necessary amendments, may it be a success.