Government has always controlled the University of Malta's purse strings, rector Alfred Vella has said in his first public comments about plans to create a Castille-controlled committee with a final say about university expenditure. 

"Control of the budget was, and I imagine will remain, in the government's hands. It's always been like that and I don't think it's going to change," the rector says. "Even today, current legislation gives the government the power to stop or change [academic] courses." 

In this Times Talk interview, Prof. Vella offers the proposed reform guarded support, highlighting the benefits having a three-year budget would bring while admitting he is "not enamoured" with plans to have "five wise men" call the shots without any academic representation on the committee. 

READ: Lecturers oppose removing rector from governing board

"But I think the government is willing to listen and will act wisely," the University of Malta's top man says. 

Prof. Vella also defends the University's Maltese language requirements for all local students, arguing that Malta's highest tertiary institute has a responsibility towards the national language, and insists the University of Malta does well on global rankings. 

"We're ranked among the world's top five per cent," he says. "That's higher than many UK and US universities. And remember that some of the world's top-ranked universities have bigger budgets than that of the entire Maltese government." 

Watch the full Times Talk interview in the video above.


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