The greatest contribution that students should give to society is that of ideas. A country can survive in the competitive world through original ideas. Malta has no raw materials, so we have to use our brains to develop our islands and keep an acceptable standard of living.

Students are young and fresh and their ideas could help contribute to Malta's development. These ideas need to be cultured and captured. They require to be organised and discussed in the form of a think tank. Then they need a business plan and of course a price tag has to be attached.

Students also contribute to society through the organisation of pressure groups especially in situations dealing with the needy and future generations such as the environmental issues.

In a more tangible way, last week, the Medical Students Association (MMSA), on the occasion of World AIDS Day, organised a number of activities with the aim of spreading education with entertainment in line with the day's aim to raise awareness, stimulate education and fight prejudice about the disease.

MMSA has a standing committee on Reproductive Health including AIDS (SCORA) and another committee, the Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention Committee (STIPC). These two student groups should certainly serve as an example of how students should contribute towards meeting the needs of society. The medical students succeeded to get out of the University ivory tower environment and went straight to the streets. An excellent contribution to society which can hardly be beaten in any other way.

Another committee which should be set up is to fight obesity and promote the need for proper nutrition. Such an action would help to reduce the scourge of heart disease and cancer, so common a cause of early deaths in Malta.

The Institute of Health Care should join in such an initiative. The dental students have organised a Help Albania group while pharmacy students have taken part in 'stop smoking' campaigns and the setting up of associations such as the Hepatitis Association. Next month we will see MKSU's Organ Donation Awareness and Blood Drive campaigns.

One slight pinch on the ear of the law students' association. They have a fabulous programme for the students including a great Christmas party. A thought on the needy would not be amiss. Some other more daring programme such as assisting lawyers giving legal aid to the poor would be a fair contribution to society and a good learning practical exercise.

The Chaplaincy also organises a number of community services. This Christmas season the chaplaincy are co-ordinating some voluntary work during advent on a weekly basis.

Finally, although students are already doing a significant amount to contribute to society more commitment is needed from the university student body towards the needs of the country.

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