“With dedication and coordination, the MCAST campus in Gozo is continously improving its operations to continue to be a centre of excellence that offers quality opportunities to Gozitan students in Gozo, with all my support and the support of the Ministry for Education”, said Minister for Education Justyne Caruana during an official visit to the MCAST campus in Ghajnsielem. The Minister was hosted by the Principal Professor Joachim James Calleja, Deputy Principal Dr Mario Cardona and Godwin Grech Campus Director Ing. Godwin Grech.
Minister Caruana, who was accompanied by Prof Joachim James Calleja, Principal and Chief Executive of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, met with lecturers on campus and students during her visit and also officially launched a new app, MyMCAST which is a valuable bridge of contact between the College and all those who need information and contacts within MCAST, especially in these times of pandemic restrictions.
MCAST in Gozo offers learning and training opportunities in the vocational and professional sector for Gozitan students in Gozo, against the background of the limitations related to the economies of scale of a small island and the challenges these present. Over the years, MCAST has continued to develop and expand opportunities by increasing courses at different vocational levels and areas. Today, MCAST offers a wide selection of courses in various fields, some of which reach Level Six of the national qualifications framework.
For the 2020-21 academic year, 21 out of 24 courses are being offered on the Gozo campus, ranging from informatics, engineering, accounting, finance, hairdressing, health, welfare and social care to early education and inclusive education. The campus has a population of almost 250 full-time students. The academic staff includes 34 full-time lecturers and 16 part-time lecturers.
The courses offered by MCAST in Gozo go through the same rigorous screening as those in Malta to ensure that the same high standards of teaching, training and assessment are maintained, as confirmed by internal and external Quality Audits which are made from time to time.
In the recent years, the MCAST campus in Gozo has also begun exploring new possibilities to further increase learning opportunities including through the use of technology and video conferencing. To this end, an investment of more than €60,000 has been made in a modern and advanced videoconferencing and collaborative learning system, in the Campus network infrastructure and an upgrade of the link connecting the Gozo campus with that of the Paola campus. Last year, another investment of around €190,000 was started, spanning a two-year period, in new equipment including Electronic Test & Measurement Equipment, PLC Automation Training Equipment, Power Electronics Equipment and Renewable Energies Equipment, in addition to infrastructure investment.
Prof James Calleja said, “A positive development of the pandemic has been that of accelerating the pace for the implementation of learning through digital platforms. With the closure of the educational institutions due to COVID-19, a transition was made for online learning and assessment through which we have managed to conclude most of the courses, virtually, but on time”.
For some of the courses, due to the vocational and technical nature of the programmes, practical components and practical assessments took place later between July and September. This experience has led to MCAST expanding its knowledge and competencies so that the College will in the future, continue to offer and widen the opportunities for students through these blended delivery approaches, benefitting the Gozitan students.