Editorial: Cutting the University of Malta’s budget

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 September, 2022 at 2:49 pm by Andre Camilleri

Government needs to cut its costs, we’re told, and one of the victims is the University of Malta.

The institution which, year after year, “produces” hundreds of graduates who make the final grade before entering the employment world – or furthering their studies to a higher level – has been asked to reduce its necessities by €1.1m.

A small figure, some will say, given that the University will still have a €100m budget.

But it’s not the amount that needs to be cut that is important. It’s the fact that government has thought of reducing its costs in the education sector, when it knows full well what it needs to do to cut its expenditure.

There is so much waste in other public sectors where the government could exercise better financial control without touching the University, and the rest of the education sector, for that matter.

The severance package for Air Malta employees quickly comes to mind in this respect, with employees set to rake in €50m, an agreement which the Malta Employers Association has described as “obscene” and “daylight robbery”.

So government, on the one hand, has €50m to give to Air Malta employees, but then wants the University to find ways to cut its costs by €1.1m. It does not really make sense.

Over the last decade, since the Labour Party took over the reins of the government, so many people have been given cushy jobs, on taxpayers’ money, without contributing much. It would have been better if the government decided to stop such a practice, once and for all, rather than touch the education sector.

It is a known fact that government has more workers than needed on its books, but it still chooses to keep them all (each worker has a family, and this means many votes too, understood?). Instead of tackling a situation which sees a bloated public sector while the private sector finds it so hard to employ skilled workers, government prefers to continue recruiting people, leaving private companies in the lurch.

There have also been innumerable direct orders awarded in the past 10 years. Even here, it would have been better if government had chosen to revise the system of how these contracts are awarded, instead of reducing the University’s budget.

It would also have been better for the government not to go for vote-catching exercises such as the cheques that were handed out in the weeks prior to the election, instead of reducing the University’s share for 2023.

It’s all a question of priorities. Many times, the government does not get them right.

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