University of Malta Academic Year 2002-2003 To celebrate the opening of the 2003-04 academic year, the University of Malta held the Opening Ceremony on Tuesday, 30 September, on the theme ëStanding at the threshold...í.

The number of applicants to University courses, this year, totalled 3822. Final figures with regards to the number of students accepted are still being processed.

New Developments
The University has harmonised all undergraduate courses which will commence in October 2003 under new harmonised regulations. In this way, students in the various courses will be covered by the same rules regarding progression from one year to the next, repetition of courses, classification of degrees, etc. In line with the recommendations arising out of the Bologna Process which seek to make University degrees more transparent, these courses will continue to be structured on the study-unit/credit system but the credits awarded will be expressed in ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits. This brings the University in line with the increasing application of ECTS as the credit accumulation system within the emerging European Higher Education Area. The use of ECTS will also facilitate mobility of students (both Maltese students studying abroad and overseas students spending a semester or year locally).

The G.F. Abela Junior College is expected to comprise over 3000 students ­ the first time that the 3000 mark is being reached.

New Courses
The major new course that is being offered by the University this year is the Postgraduate Diploma in Translation and Interpreting ­ a two-year part-time course which is being offered by the Faculty of Arts. This course attracted much interest by University graduates and 100 applications were received.

The Faculty is responding to the need for such training at a high level in skills that are increasingly in demand in Malta, the EU countries and elsewhere. The course will provide an academic qualification for those intending to become professional translators/interpreters, whether in a freelance capacity or in employment.

International Links
The International Office handles the growing number of enquiries and applications from prospective overseas students. This year there will be over 600 full-time international students from some 78 countries. In addition, around 80 international students come to the University on semester exchanges. An orientation programme for international students was held on the 25 and 26 September for them to get accustomed to life in Malta and at University.

The International Office assists international students by providing the required information and services both at the initial enquiry stage, as well as during the course programme. This office develops and monitors the ever-increasing links between the University and other institutions overseas. The University has several student and faculty staff exchange schemes through university bilateral agreements and cooperation programmes between Malta and other countries such as the USA, the UK, France, Italy, and Australia.

The European Unit
The European Unit at the University of Malta was set up in 2001 to act as the central contact point for EU and other European initiatives at the University of Malta. Over the last four years, the European Unit has been highly involved in the management of mobility under the Socrates-Erasmus Action, exchanging about 420 students and 60 academics each year.

Its areas of activity are varied, focusing on the different aspects related to the Europeanisation process being undertaken by the University. Through its varied links in the academic and industrial fields, the European Unit plays an active role in the Universityís participation in Programmes such as the various Actions of the Socrates Programme (student and academic mobility, open and distance learning, adult education and language promotion), the Sixth Framework Programme (Research) and Leonardo da Vinci (vocational training) and other European Programmes.

The Infrastructure
Improvements on the infrastructure are a necessity to meet the demands of the increasing student population. Such improvements have been made to the Maths and Physics Building and the Chemistry Building. The project in the Maths and Physics block included the building of two storeys with the aim of expanding the facilities for the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Statistics and Operations Research. This means an increase in the number of lecture rooms, computer labs and offices for the staff. A lift has also been installed. The structural works in the Chemistry Building have now been completed. The extension will have several laboratories, lecture rooms, a dark room and a cold room.

At the Junior College work has been done on the main staircase. The staircase was built anew. Its width is now double the size of the previous one to serve for the purposes of the growing number of Junior College students.

Communications Office