Santander come to Malta

In recent weeks, two meetings of the Santander Group have been held in Malta. The first, in late October, involved Liaison Officers while at the meeting in early November, discussions were held at Rectorial level. Founded in 1992, the primary aim of the Santander Group, a Europe-wide university network comprising some 44 universities, is to establish special academic, cultural, and socio-economic ties among the states represented in its membership and to promote the free movement of students, professors and knowledge between its member institutions.

At the recent Rectors' meeting, discussions focussed on the launch of projects aimed at fostering cooperation between European and non-EU Mediterranean countries and it was agreed that a Task Force should be formed to work on this initiative.  Professor Roger Ellul- Micallef, Rector of the University of Malta, is to be the first Chair of this Task Force with Malta, Catania, Cantabria, Valencia, Trieste, Patras, Bari, Murcia, Las Palmas, Le Havre and Montpellier comprising the Mediterranean Task Force. At this first exploratory meeting, discussions centred on internationalisation of non-EU Mediterranean universities: faculty and student exchanges as well as on the existing network of "study abroad" programmes. Both Santander Group members and other Mediterranean institutions would be asked to identify potential areas in which joint projects could be undertaken while avoiding duplication of work already being undertaken within networks such as the Community of Mediterranean Universities (CMU) and UniMed.

An exciting new idea that was mooted, is the possible setting up of a Mediterranean Virtual University for distance education based on the successful Monterey example - a South American private virtual university with students from all over South America. Naturally, this proposal would involve extensive preparatory work before it could become a reality.

25 November, 1999