Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening said he saw "traces of success" in the American University of Malta - despite this having just a few students.

Fielding questions from journalists, Dr Muscat likened the controversial university to the University of Malta, insisting both are "brilliant institutions".

Asked whether he believed a university with few students and no lectures could be put on the same level as the University of Malta, Dr Muscat said that he believed that the AUM would be "brimming with success".

"The fact is that you have a university which is just starting out and which will be a success and I don't need to wait for something to be brimming with success before I can say it is so.

"I recognise with the AUM traces of great success," Dr Muscat reiterated, insisting he was convinced of this.

The AUM had planned to open its first academic year with over 300 students but only managed 15. None of the students are paying and most have been given scholarships by the AUM’s owners.

The university is now aiming to attract about 150 students for the next academic year.

Earlier this month, all lecturers were dismissed just days before the start of a new term