[Photo by Geoffrey Zarb Adami]
Rectors, Vice-Rectors and student representatives from the six coastal European universities forming the SEA-EU Alliance have physically convened in Valletta, Malta, for a Governing Board Meeting on 25 June 2021, to discuss the next steps forward on how to strengthen the links between teaching, research, innovation and knowledge transfer across the Alliance.
SEA-EU is one of 41 Alliances currently supported by the European Commission, seeking to build an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future in a comprehensive partnership, with marine and maritime studies leading the way. The Alliance represents some 122,000 students, 1,700 staff and 117 research groups.
The six universities who make up the SEA-EU partners are the University of Cádiz in Spain (which is the lead partner); the University of Western Brittany in Brest, France; the University of Kiel in Germany; the University of Gdańsk in Poland; the University of Split in Croatia; and the University of Malta.
University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella, welcomed everyone, declaring that he is honoured to be welcoming the very top decision makers of the universities making up the SEA-EU Alliance.
A roundtable discussion during this Governing Board Meeting focused on establishing a more collaborative and extensive research, learning and outreach agenda, and particularly in a post-COVID-19 scenario.
The Board meeting was also addressed by UM’s Pro-Chancellor of the UM and former European Commissioner, Mr Karmenu Vella; Minister for Research Innovation and the post-Covid-19 Implementation Strategy, The Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici; and the Minister of Education, the Hon. Dr Justyne Caruana. Both Ministers reaffirmed the government's support for UM’s involvement in this Alliance and the achievement of its ambitious but commendable objectives.
Maltese students, from both the University Students’ Council, KSU and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN Malta) addressed the Board while in session.
Minister for Research, Innovation and the Co-ordination of Post COVID-19 strategy, Dr Owen Bonnici said, “This Government is committed to supporting and encouraging this kind of cooperation in every way it can. We are very aware of the huge challenges such an alliance may need to overcome, but we are pledging our support for this initiative that will see the exchange of students and researchers venturing out into the world, to enrich their knowledge and gather a wealth of experiences, which we believe, they will be able to put to good use, for the benefit of society at large.”
“In particular,” Minister Bonnici added, “there is a long list of challenges which the international community needs to overcome in so far as seas and oceans are concerned, such as pollution, global warming and sustainable use, and science is the key to solutions which make a difference.”
Minister for Education Justyne Caruana said that the Ministry for Education in Malta applauds such initiatives and commends all forms of collaborations which lead to sharing of expertise and resources, such as this cooperation between the Universities forming this consortium. “Malta has fully supported the introduction of the Council Conclusions on European Universities initiative which is a clear step in the right direction for higher education, and society at large, paving the way for a new dimension in European Higher education”, said Minister Caruana.
“We may be a small country; but it is precisely for that reason that we are also keen internationalists and believe strongly that out trajectory, like our identity, is both global and local”, said Minister Caruana, “An example is our International Maritime Law Institute and our key role in the International Law of the Sea and with Arvid Pardo’s Common Heritage of Humanity Concept way back in 1967 at the UN”.