Societal factors and impact

Societal factors and impact

Societal Factors and Impact

Creating an Inclusive University for an Inclusive Society

'Societal Factors and Impact' is one of the Strategic Themes of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025, which sets out the goals and priorities for the University, its faculties, departments, centres, institutes and schools.

The University of Malta encourages a participative society where intellectuals maintain a significant role in the country’s social, political, economic and cultural life. It is an inclusive institution that strives to support our community, both within the University and in wider society, with the involvement of students and staff. We aim to stimulate public responsibility and inspire public service to actively identify opportunities and maintain a lead-by-example approach. While we seek to improve the wellbeing of our academic community, we are committed to strengthen, develop and synergize the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, disability and other spheres of diversity.

Core Strategies

  1. Assist students and members of staff with disability
  2. Support under-represented and first-generation students
  3. Advance and commit to gender and LGBTIQ rights
  4. Ensure access of students and staff of diverse cultures
  5. Expand health promotion and wellbeing services
  6. Engage the campus community
  7. Promote public outreach
 

  Strategic Goals - Societal Factors and Impact

  Core Strategies

  Enabling Strategies     

  • Assist students and members of staff with disability

  • Create accessible offices and resources for ADSU support staff
  • Support members of staff with intellectual challenges
  • Conduct accessibility audits and subsequent action
  • Monitor problematic areas on a regular basis
  • Provide campus taxi service for students and staff with mobility issues
  • Establish procedures for assessing students’ ‘Fitness to Practice’ for certain courses
  • Support staff who interact with students with disability or learning difficulties
  • Design buildings that address the physical and mental needs of students
  • Make more ‘quiet rooms’ available on campus

  • Support under-represented and first-generation students

  • Improve support systems that increase completion rates
  • Nurture networks and connections across student cohorts
  • Create activities that cultivate a sense of belonging on campus
  • Develop personal identity as as a source of strength

  • Advance and commit to gender and LGBTIQ rights

  • Conduct regular gender audits
  • Work on issues of gender mainstreaming within the curriculum
  • Promote the Sexual Harassment Policy with external stakeholders
  • Address specific gender-related challenges with respect to promotion
  • Address the gender gap in subjects such as engineering, education, and health care
  • Create a library depository of historical documents on the advancement of gender-related rights and the key figures
  • Provide gender-neutral restrooms

  • Ensure access of students and staff of diverse cultures

  • Promote the benefits of diversity
  • Ensure that there are adequate inter-faith facilities
  • Promote a programme to encourage attitudinal change
  • Support a buddy system for international students and staff

  • Expand health promotion and wellbeing services

  • Provide stress-management support around examination periods
  • Provide Mental Health First Aid courses for staff and students
  • Provide a social worker, youth worker and nurse on campus
  • Organise staff training to support distressed individuals in critical situations

  • Engage the campus community

  • Develop an internal and external communications strategy
  • Support recognised student societies
  • Set up a one-stop-office for guidance on University procedures
  • Promote awareness of the Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Promote inclusive language on campus
  • Schedule courses that specifically address the needs of part-time students

  • Promote public outreach

  • Expand online distance learning to increase accessibility
  • Spread the scope and geographic reach of the University of the Third Age
  • Spread the geographic reach of services similar to the Cottonera Resource Centre
  • Consider expanding specific outreach services
  • Establish a Visitor’s Centre at the Valletta Campus
  • Re-evaluate CAMPUS FM and THINK magazine for outreach
  • Involve arts and humanities in ‘Science in the City’
  • Revive efforts such as ‘University in Piazza’
  • Improve collaboration with civil society and industry

 

Supporting Persons with Disability

The University facilitates access and support to ensure that those with a disability stand a good chance to succeed in their studies. It also provides assistance to members of staff and visitors.

To improve accessibility, we endeavour to:

  • make offices accessible and provide resources for Access Disability Support Unit (ADSU) support staff in a central area of the campus;
  • propose new initiatives to support members of staff with intellectual challenges;
  • conduct regular accessibility audits, effect immediate subsequent action where required, and monitor problematic areas on a regular basis;
  • provide an on-campus taxi service for students and staff with mobility issues;
  • develop standard operating procedures regarding ‘Fitness to Practice’ that assess students prior to being accepted on specific courses;
  • offer support to members of staff who interact with students with disability or learning difficulties, including students with dyslexia or who are on the autistic spectrum, through OPAD and ADSU;
  • ensure that the design of new buildings considers the needs of students on the spectrum;
  • make more ‘quiet rooms’ available on campus.

Providing Assistance for Under-Represented and First-Generation Students

The University will improve support systems that enhance the learning experience and increase the completion rates of students from diverse and under-represented backgrounds. Students from under-privileged socioeconomic environments, minorities and first-generation students face additional challenges to cultivate a sense of belonging within the University community. We will provide a support infrastructure to develop personal identity as as a source of strength and to nurture networks and connections across student cohorts in the academic and social environments on campus.

Advancing Gender Rights

The University is committed to the advancement of gender and LGBTQ rights. For this purpose, we propose to:

  • conduct regular gender audits;
  • give greater visibility to the Gender Issues Committee so that it is empowered to work on issues of gender mainstreaming within the curriculum together with OPAD;
  • promote further the Sexual Harassment Policy, which was implemented both at the University and Junior College, as a model of such policies for other sectors outside the University;
  • lead the discussion on specific gender-related challenges on campus when it comes to promotion;
  • address the gender gap in professions such as engineering, education and health care;
  • set up a depository within the library that archives historical documents related to the advancement of gender-related rights and key figures;
  • provide gender-neutral restrooms. 

Promoting Diversity

The University is a multi-cultural community where international students and staff are on the increase and many pertain to diverse cultures. The Committee for Race and Ethnic Affairs was established to create awareness, ensure access and integration, safeguard students and members of staff and advise the Rectorate. We will commit to:

  • promote the benefits of diversity, including race and ethnicity;
  • ensure that there are adequate inter-faith facilities;
  • develop a programme of events to encourage attitudinal change;
  • support a buddy system for international students and staff.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the implications of migration in the educational sector will be maintained. Recognition of Prior Learning will enable more students with refugee status or who are seeking asylum in Malta to apply for and be admitted to courses. The approach will contribute to national integration efforts through the provision of courses, outreach initiatives and collaboration with other relevant entities.

Expand Health and Wellbeing Services

An inclusive campus enhances wellbeing and accommodates the unique needs of different individuals. Best-practice diversity and inclusion policies acknowledge that mental health and wellbeing are diversity issues. The proposed actions are to:

  • improve the counselling services, mental health support, together with healthy lifestyle programmes within the Health and Wellness Centre;
  • become a health-promoting University, as recognised by the World Health Organisation, and for this purpose, the services of a social worker, youth worker and nurse will be required;
  • provide regular stress-management sessions for students around examination periods;
  • continue to organise Mental Health First Aid courses on a regular basis for both staff and students;
  • follow up on the guidelines for members of staff on support of highly distressed individuals by offering them training.  

Engaging the Campus Community

An inclusive environment will promote positive student and staff recruitment practices, social mobility initiatives and outreach programmes to attract participants from all sectors of society. The University proposes to:

  • make an effort to improve internal and external communications to ensure that there are fewer overlaps, better coordination and more synergy, as well as put in place a communication strategy with measurable key performance indicators;
  • support recognised student societies, by ensuring that adequate resources are available, including the possibility of a youth worker to assist them;
  • design mentoring schemes on campus; 
  • promote awareness of the Bullying and Harassment Policy;
  • promote inclusive language on campus;
  • ensure that evening courses cater for the needs and interests of part-time students and consider providing full-time day programmes on a flexible part-time basis when required by the learner. 

Promoting Public Outreach

The University is involved in a wide range of outreach activities both with local cohorts and with the wider national community. These activities aim to promote the public’s interest in higher education and encourage the pursuit of studies leading to a qualification and career development. We will strive to:

  • expand the online distance learning opportunities and provide a variety of teaching modalities;
  • extend the reach of the University of the Third Age;
  • extend the services offered by the Cottonera Resource Centre which include counselling and a law clinic to other localities such as the Northern Harbour Area, Buġibba, Qawra and Gozo;
  • consider expanding specific outreach services
  • set up a Visitor’s Centre at the Valletta Campus to highlight its legacy and promote its projects from within the heart of the capital city;
  • re-evaluate CAMPUS FM and THINK magazine with a view to making these media more effective;
  • involve arts and humanities in ‘Science in the City’, given the spread of interdisciplinary approaches;
  • revive efforts such as ‘University in Piazza’;
  • improve collaboration with non-state actors, namely civil society and industry. 


 

 




The Strategic Development Process for the University of Malta is organised by the team dedicated to Strategic Planning and Enterprise. We constantly seek feedback to improve and evolve our strategic planning process, whilst identifying opportunities to assist students and staff in meeting University's objectives. Contact us here

https://www.um.edu.mt/about/strategy/strategicgoals3societalfactorsandimpact