Exciting days ahead for Gibraltar's new university

Extracts from Parliamentary statement by Education minister Gilbert Licudi:
It is not just the University of Gibraltar. It is a university for Gibraltar, a university that will serve the needs of the community and of industry - but also a university designed to become an international educational institution with a reputation for its high standards and for the quality of its research programmes in various fields.

We have shown that when Gibraltar sets its mind to something, we can become worldclass.

We have announced that the University will have four faculties - Health Studies and Sports Science, Business to include specialisms in Accounting and Finance, Law and ICT, Life and Earth Sciences with Gibraltar and Mediterranean Studies and,finally, Tourism and Hospitality.

No successful university anywhere in the world will have offered the same number orscope of courses at establishment as it offers 10, 20 or 30 years later. Every university evolves and develops over time and the University of Gibraltar will be no different. It is,however, necessary, to start somewhere and whilst we can be and are ambitious, we must not be over-ambitious at the start.

FOUR FUNCTIONING FACULTIES FROM OUTSET

The University will have four functioning faculties from the outset with its own building or campus containing all the facilities which one would expect in a modern university. Each of the faculties is expected to offer programmes starting in September 2015.

In Health Studies, we currently have 38 students carrying out foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in nursing and health management. These programmes, which are validated by Kingston University, will form part of the University.

In Sports Science, we expect to have a research programme starting in September 2015.

The Faculty of Business is expected to offer courses which are part of the International Programme of the University of London. These are courses which will be developed over time. The Faculty is, however, expected to offer in September 2015 two courses which are being developed locally. These are the Diplomas in Gibraltar Tax and in Gibraltar Law.

These two courses will be invaluable particularly for accountants and lawyers although the courses will of course be open to others, They will provide not just local knowledge but also a local qualification in these fields.

The Faculty of Life and Earth Sciences will offer research programmes, the precise title of which will be announced in the next few months.

The Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality will initially offer courses in hospitality similar to the pilot programme which started last month as part of a collaboration between the Gibraltar Tourist Board and Oxford Brookes University.

COLLABORATION WITH MAJOR UNIVERSITIES

We have determined that it is absolutely essential that we continue to develop collaborations with other major universities such as Kingston, London and Oxford Brookes.

We will therefore be seeking to enter into MOUs with a number of other universities. These MOUs could lead to collaborative programmes at post-graduate and post-doctoral levels, student exchanges and the provision of facilities by the University of Gibraltar for fieldwork to be carried out in Gibraltar in areas such as marine biology and primatology.

In fact, I have been overwhelmed by the manner in which everyone to whom we have spoken about our University has welcomed the idea and has been willing to participate in our programmes. Clearly, we will choose our partners wisely.

We have already signed an MOU with the University of Seychelles. One of the specific areas we are talking to Seychelles about is the creation of a two-centre joint Masters between the two universities in Marine Science and the Blue Economy. This is a programme which the Government is particularly excited about and which we feel could be extremely popular with local, Seychellois and, in time, international students.

It is important to emphasise that collaborations will not just be with foreign entities. There is a wealth of talent in Gibraltar which we will naturally want to tap into. The University will work closely with local bodies such as the Gibraltar Museum, the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens and the Garrison Library. The expertise, assets and the facilities which these bodies have will be crucial to the success of the University.

We have also announced that the University will include an Institute of Professional Development and Continuing Education. This will provide courses leading to professional qualifications (for example in accounting> public and private sector continuing professional development and courses developed to meet industry needs. I am happy to give specific examples on this if Honourabe Members opposite wish. The University of Seychelles has a similar institute and we were able to see during our visit there how it operates very successfully to deliver the professional and industry needs of the community.

The other component of the University is the language centre which is intended to deliver the teaching of English as a foreign or business language. We expect that these courses will be very much in demand.

As Honourable Members will appreciate, we are being ambitious in our approach but we need to get it right. There is much to be done in the course of the next ten months to get this off the ground. What we have presented is a blueprint for the University and what we want the University to develop into over time.

PROJECT TEAM

We have already put together a project team which is led by me. It includes the Director of Education, Joey Britto, assisted as necessary by the Senior Education Advisor, Darren Grech.

Dr Darren Fa was seconded to this project in January of this year and has been working full-time on this since then. He will continue to be part of the project team on a full-time basis. Dr Darren Fa was until recently Deputy Director of the Gibraltar Museum as well as being their Education and Research Officer and co-Director of their Underwater Research Unit. A Chartered Biologist and an elected Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, he has particular experienceof university-level research, having participated in and jointly directed a number of international projects and studies. He has experience in the development of Higher Education research and continues to act as academic supervisor for several Masters and PhD students from various European universities.

Kevin Pizarro of the GHA has been seconded to UniGib for two days a week. Mr Pizarro was instrumental in the setting up of the School of Health Studies at the GHA and brings with him valuable experience and expertise.

Chris Riddell, the Director of Strategic Planning, Projects and Business Development at my Ministry is also part of the team and will be in charge of all aspects of the refurbishment and development of the Europa Point site.

In addition, the project team is being assisted by two consultants with extensive university experience.

Professor Daniella Tilbury is the first Gibraltarian to be recognized with a Marie Curie Professorship by the European Commission. She has held multiple university leadership roles in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia as well as having served as an advisor for newly established universities and innovative ventures in the sector.

Professor Malcolm Jones was the first alumnus of Cardiff University Dental School to become Dean of the School. He was then Pro Vice-Chancellor for Health in Cardiff University overseeing strategy for all six health related schools in the University.

This is an exciting project which will bring numerous benefits for Gibraltar. We very much hope that it will be embraced by the Opposition and, indeed, by whole community.

20-10-14 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR




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