Lecturers were asked to attend training, not work
MCAST has never tried to undermine the right of its employees to enjoy public holidays, or to avail themselves of sick leave or special leave.
The College is engaged in a continuous effort to constantly improve the working conditions of all its employees. In turn, this ensures that MCAST students are adequately prepared for successful careers and better jobs.
Unfortunately, in his speech on Sunday 13 May, Labour Party Leader Dr. Joseph Muscat was misguided by an article penned by Mr. John Bencini, FORUM President, which included incorrect allegations about MCAST.
MCAST categorically denies that any of its lecturers were asked to give extra lessons to make up for lecturing time lost while on sick leave, or on special leave. The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) has made several public allegations in this regard, but has never replied to MCAST’s request to substantiate these claims with specific cases.
Regarding public holidays, MCAST would like to explain that it is currently working on a project through which MCAST degree courses were launched a few years ago. Several industry stakeholders have acclaimed these programmes for the high level of training they offer to MCAST students. The College is collaborating with Fraunhofer Gescellschaft, Europe’s largest industry research organisation, to ensure an optimum level of quality in all its degree programmes. Foreign professors and experts from Fraunhofer visit Malta whenever MCAST starts a new degree, to deliver lectures to the course’s first students, and to guide the lecturers who would be taking over lecturing of the same programme in subsequent years. These MCAST lecturers are trained through job shadowing, whereby they sit for the foreign professors’ lectures as observers, to obtain new ideas and knowledge which they can then adopt in their own classes in the following years. Thus, job shadowing also serves as Continued Professional Development for MCAST’s lecturers, who are given a unique opportunity to gain international experiences through the input of Fraunhofer’s foreign experts and professors.
Since MCAST’s agreement with Fraunhofer specifies that whenever foreign professors visit MCAST, they have to deliver a pre-defined number of lecturing hours, when their stay at the College coincides with a public holiday during the week, they make up for the day of lecturing lost by adding a number of hours of lecturing during the days following the holiday. This ensures that students do not miss any of the lecturing hours scheduled for them, before the foreign professors leave Malta.
MCAST felt that it would be a pity for the MCAST lecturers not to make the most of their job shadowing opportunity, so they were asked to attend these extra lectures as well. At this point, the MUT ordered its lecturers not to attend these additional sessions held to make up for public holidays during weekdays, unless they receive additional pay. In view of this, MCAST informed its lecturers that they are not obliged to job shadow these extra sessions, if they do not wish to do so.
Finally, MCAST would also like to categorically deny that any of its lecturers are registered as self-employed workers.
MCAST is committed to continue building on the success it achieved since it was established 10 years ago, by working to further improve the quality of all its services to students, and to extend its commitment to the upgrading of working conditions and to the provision of new training opportunities for all its employees. During the next three years, MCAST will be launching several EU-funded projects, adding up to a €20 million investment, to provide new Continued Professional Development opportunities to its staff, acquire new and improved teaching resources, develop new courses, and upgrade its existing programmes. This is the only way forward to ensure that students continue to receive all they need to achieve successful careers.
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