Quality mailshots

Quality mailshots

In 2019, the QAC launched its Quality Mailshot Initiative, in order to highlight good quality practices taking place across campus by means of occasional mailshots. This is an archive of all mailshots sent to date. Following the conclusion of an academic year, a final report on the respective mailshot series is available below:

If you have an example of good quality practice at your unit which you would like us to include in this mailshot series, please get in touch with us on qac@um.edu.mt

The Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) reviews Quality Assurance at the University of Malta, supporting the transition towards a quality culture. Part of this task involves showcasing good quality practices underway at UM, or across one or more of its various units (faculties, departments, institutes, centres, schools and directorates).

As from the 2019/2020 academic year, the QAC will be occasionally sending brief mailshots to highlight and raise awareness about such initiatives. 

View full mailshot    

The University monitors its academic performance on a number of independent ranking systems such as U-Multirank, which compares similar universities on a number of areas. The number of international joint publications and scientific publications has been monitored since 2015.

The 2019 results indicate the fourth consecutive annual percentage increase in such publications, from 59% (2015) to 68% (2019). A more detailed overview of these results is available on Newspoint.

View full mailshot    

The University monitors its performance in terms of its online presence through the independent ranking system Webometrics Ranking of World Universities

In January 2020, the University of Malta is ranked 866th in the world, up from 1,243rd in July 2016, i.e. in the top 4% out of around 29,000 higher education institutions world-wide.

View full mailshot

Professor Stephen Montefort is the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. As at 4th February 2020, he is the University's most cited academic on Google Scholar, with 11,598 citations. He is also a co-author of UM's most cited paper [PDF], which has garnered 3,954 citations since it was published in 2006. There are currently 619 UM academics with a public Google Scholar profile.  

View full mailshot    

Professor Charles Savona Ventura is Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine & Surgery. He is one of a number of academics at the University of Malta who over the years has taken the initiative to systematically collect and analyse end-of-year anonymous feedback from his students. He then uses these results to review the department's provision. 

View full mailshot    

All Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) currently in force at the University of Malta can now be accessed.

To-date, the portal has 87 administrative, 55 technical and 169 academic SOPs.

The benefits of SOPs include improved consistency, better internal organization and communication, and a more standard performance across different units on campus. SOPs serve as training tools to ensure that the knowledge required to administer the university effectively is not lost. SOPs can be searched by title, entity, subject category or whether they apply to students or members of staff.   

View full mailshot    

The extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have called for extraordinary responses. Amongst the most notable is the quick and almost total switch to on-line tuition in many universities located in affected countries, including the University of Malta. 

In this context, the fully on-line B.Sc. Programme of Studies in Health Science, offered since 2009 by the Faculty of Health Sciences at UM and supported by the IT Services team, is a pioneer. A detailed admin guide is provided for each study-unit, for which there is also a road-map summarising the intended outcomes, resources, activities and assessment methods in each phase. The course includes a blend of real-time and asynchronous activities with timely feedback being provided throughout.

This format also enhances the receipt of students' and external examiners' feedback, leading to richer input and reduced turn-around time for course improvements.

View full mailshot    

The International School for Foundation Studies promotes the practice of peer-to-peer observation and reflection. After mutual agreement to observe one or more of their colleagues' lectures, academics will reflect with that same colleague on how best to improve each other's teaching practice. Such processes can assist academics to rethink strategies to further enhance their teaching skills and promote student learning.

View full mailshot    

The University of Malta has over 300 labs, and most generate chemical waste. A new Standard Operating Procedure (UNI-OP-003-01 [PDF] ) has been designed to streamline the management of chemical waste on campus.

To-date, some 50 members of staff have been trained on this SOP. Since 2014, 20 tonnes of chemical waste have been packaged and exported to approved collector sites.

View full mailshot      

The University of Malta has been awarded European Social Funds for the project 'Skill development and life-long learning for technical, operational and laboratory staff'.

Through this project, the University will upskill its staff on Technical, H&S, Quality and Management skills. Courses on Quality and ISO standards have started, and will continue when UM restarts normal operations. 

View full mailshot    

The University of Malta has 7 academics with authored or co-authored publications that have garnered over 1000 citations on Google Scholar. They are listed alphabetically below, together with the subject of their publication:

View full mailshot    

The University's Institutional Repository (OAR@UM) accepts scholarly, educational or administrative digital content created or owned by academics, support/technical staff and students. 

In 2016, there were 12,615 items deposited in OAR@UM. As at the end of April 2020, the total number of deposited items stood at 46,973

View full mailshot    

In 2019, the simulation teaching labs of the Department of Nursing received their first-ever certification as a 'Standard of Best Practice'. The award was made by the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL).

View full mailshot    

The Master in Translation and Terminology Studies programme, offered by the Department of Translation and Terminology Studies at UM, has been selected by the European Commission for membership to the EMT (European Masters in Translation) network 2019-2024.

The programme offers specialisation streams in audiovisual, literary or technical translation. The audiovisual translation stream, coordinated by Dr Giselle Spiteri Miggiani, includes cutting edge technology in its course programme so as to bridge academic and professional practice. Hands-on sessions in multilingual dubbing translation adopt cloud-based software tools such as ZOOdubs, which enables students to practise individually by accessing the portal with their personal user accounts. 

View full mailshot    

The h-index is an author-level metric that combines a scholar's productivity with the citation impact of their publications. It is calculated by counting the number of publications for which an author has been cited by other authors at least the same number of times. 

Professor Georgios Yannakakis, Director of the Institute of Digital Games, is Malta's highest ranked scholar by h-index (52). That means, at least 52 of his papers have each been cited at least 52 times. This places Prof. Yannakakis among the top researchers in the area of computer science and electronics

View full mailshot    

As from 2016, MATSEC started asking candidates for anonymous feedback following examination sessions. The feedback received is analysed and collated in reports which are made available online.

During the same year, MATSEC also started a process to adopt the same format in all examination papers. Students were consulted in order to identify the font which they perceived to be the clearest, and the chosen font (Verdana) is now used in all examination material. The results of this research are also available online [PDF] .

View full mailshot

The Department of Social Policy and Social Work holds two student progress meetings per year – one at the end of each semester once all results of the study-units have been issued. During these meetings, student performance is discussed and action is taken so as to support, encourage or praise any student that the staff would have noted. This ensures that the academic performance of each student is monitored and supported.

Furthermore, such meetings allow for a bird's eye view of student performance per study-unit, which may lead to changes in the assessment process and/or content delivery of said study-unit. This is another means by which the quality of each study-unit can be monitored. 

View full mailshot    

The Centre for Labour Studies (CLS) is Malta’s contact centre for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The Foundation is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide information, advice and expertise on working conditions and sustainable work, industrial relations, labour market change, quality of life, and public services. It supports the EU institutions and bodies, member states and social partners in shaping and implementing social and employment policies, as well as promoting social dialogue on the basis of comparative information, research and analysis.

The CLS has been contributing research and reports to the Foundation since 2003, by winning five back-to-back contracts. The sterling work of the CLS has been recently recognised in a quality audit exercise in which the Centre received the third highest rating of all EU-28 countries plus Norway. The audit investigated content quality, balance in reporting, style and presentation, command of English, and timeliness of delivery. The work of the CLS is promoted internationally through the Foundation’s website.

View full mailshot    

The NOHA joint MA in International Humanitarian Action, run by the Department of International Relations (Faculty of Arts), is the largest Erasmus Mundus Master's programme of which UM forms part: each NOHA cohort comprises approximately 150 students, of which some 35 study at UM every year. It is among the select few that have achieved third term Erasmus Mundus status.

The NOHA consortium comprises eight delivering universities in Europe, including top-ranked institutions such as Uppsala University, University of Groningen and University College Dublin. 

View full mailshot    

This academic year, KSU has collaborated with UM's International Office to develop the KSU Buddy System. It matches local students with new, incoming international students, in order to facilitate their settling down in Malta and integration on our campus. 

The 'buddy' offers support and guidance, especially during the first few days and weeks after an international student's arrival in Malta. Around 100 prospective buddies have so far pledged their support to over 50 international students. 

Local students are encouraged to actively engage with international students, fostering opportunities for intercultural growth and exchange of knowledge and experiences. 

View full mailshot    

The University monitors its performance in terms of its online presence through the independent ranking system Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.

In February 2021, the University of Malta is ranked 839th in the world, up from 866th in January 2020, i.e. in the top 3% out of around 30,000 higher education institutions world-wide.

View full mailshot    

The UM Library is committed to support the University’s vision by providing adequate academic information resources. While the Library invests heavily in online resources, print monographs published by UM academics remain a gem.

Prof. Horatio Cr Vella, lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, and Prof. Yosanne Vella, lecturer in the Faculty of Education, regularly donate copies of their publications to the UM Library. Being UM researchers as well as Maltese authors, their publications are of national interest and are now held at the Library's Melitensia Special Collection

View full mailshot    

The Department of Inclusion & Access to Learning within the Faculty of Education runs the ‘I Belong’ programme, which aims to provide a holistic approach to integration. Through this initiative, migrants living in Malta are introduced to Maltese culture and language, as part of the Migrant Integration Strategy & Action Plan (Vision 2020). The Department also offers a Diploma in Education for Cultural Mediation

View full mailshot    

Professor Rena Balzan, a retired Associate Professor at the Department of Physiology & Biochemistry, is one of UM’s most cited female academics. Her co-authored paper, 'Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy', has been cited over 7,200 times since it first appeared in 2016.

'Autophagy' is the natural, regulated mechanism of the cell that removes unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Defects in autophagy may lead to the accumulation of mutated, unfolded and degraded proteins, which can be toxic and manifest in ageing or in disease, particularly degenerative diseases. 

View full mailshot    

The Department of Nursing has introduced e-portfolios for undergraduate students. These innovative virtual portfolios have entirely replaced the formerly paper-based practice portfolios, which contained a formal collection of evidence pertaining to clinical learning.

This provides a live repository of students’ learning activities and reflection. It is owned and managed by the students, who invite educators electronically to review, discuss and provide feedback on their work.

View full mailshot    

The Department of Social Policy & Social Work organises a yearly Away Day for freshers. This is normally held outside campus and allows for interaction between freshers and departmental academic staff. It provides an opportunity for staff to impart knowledge and skills which might help students better cope with university life.

This experience helps to enhance freshers’ transitioning to tertiary education and facilitates student-staff relations. The restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that an equivalent event was held online during the academic year 2020/2021.  

View full mailshot    

The Department of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Faculty of ICT offers a Gaming stream as part of its undergraduate degree. The modules consist of three main components; theory, practice and application. The lectures focus on the use of AI in digital games. The practicals guide students towards using Unity, the most popular gaming engine worldwide. The application part takes the form of a Game Jam where students have to create a game in 48 hours whilst guided by industry experts. The course covers enough material to allow students to sit for a sought-after industry qualification, the Unity Certification.  

Through this combination, students get the best of all worlds: theory, practice, experience and third-party certification. If you'd like to know more, please contact Prof. Alexiei Dingli.

View full mailshot    

The use of a conceptual framework embedded in the principles of person-centredness and the Person-centred Practice Framework, guides the structure of curricula in the Department of Mental HealthFaculty of Health Sciences.

Consequently, active student participation in curriculum development is ensured and power sharing enabled, through the setting up of two student Curriculum Evaluation committees that meet twice a year. These committees provide a voice and platform for students to discuss aspects relating to the curriculum content, assessment and learning activities.

This feedback is then followed by an in-depth reflection and evaluation by staff and key stakeholders (including student representatives) to formulate strategies that support students and enhance their learning experiences.

View full mailshot    

For the last two years, academic staff in the B.Sc. Computer Engineering and Computing Science courses have been meeting regularly with all their students through a collaborative inter-departmental effort. This has proved a useful exercise in maintaining a regular link with students, to get a general overview of their progress and to give them an opportunity to voice any concerns. Students have welcomed these meetings very positively, particularly during the pandemic, throughout which the meetings continued virtually. 

View full mailshot    

The Department of Music Studies fosters the independent artistic development of its students and promotes their work throughout the University community. One of its initiatives has been that of encouraging its students to form variable ensembles to perform and record short pieces of their choice, particularly their own compositions.

The Department promotes these recordings as ‘bite-sized concerts’ through Newspoint and the Department's Facebook page, in order to give more visibility to young musicians within the university, and beyond. 

View full mailshot    

The University of Malta, represented by the Institute of Digital Games through the AI4Media project, and supported by the Department of Artificial Intelligence (Faculty of ICT) is a founding member of the International AI Doctoral Academy (AIDA).

The academy focuses on delivering the next generation of core AI advances and training to serve the media sector. Currently, 56 leading European universities, research centres and industry organisations form AIDA’s founding board.

The AI Doctoral Academy will foster European talent by providing the opportunity to contribute to the development of the European brand of AI, conduct industry-relevant research through intense mobility, and establish career links within the EU.

View full mailshot    

The Centre for Literacy strives to improve practice and inform policy through the generation of knowledge by creating a strong research culture and by developing professional practice. It is committed to the promotion of quality research, and its effective communication, especially in areas related to children’s literacy, and to maintaining strong partnerships with schools and the wider educational community.

The Centre continues to be an agent of change on the national, European and international levels. Through strategic partnerships in Malta and abroad, it seeks to influence policy and practice in the field of Literacy Education, and has produced various scientific publications in the field.

View full mailshot


https://www.um.edu.mt/about/qualityassurance/qualitymailshots/