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KSU has no reserves on protesting

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Student protests are not being ruled out as a response to the stagnation in the publication of results. The University Students’ Council (KSU) said they will take all steps necessary to protect basic rights of the student population during a press conference held at the University this morning.

According to a recent online survey conducted by Insite, 83% of the 313 University student respondents said that they have not yet received any results. In the past few days, the council has received over 200 complaints from worried students and their families.

Without their results, students wanting to apply for Erasmus programmes or to submit their thesis proposals risk missing deadlines.

KSU president Gayle Lynn Callus said that it is unacceptable for students to be used as “chess pieces” in discussions between the government and teachers’ unions. He added that the council does not want to complicate these negotiations, but wants to represent students when they are directly affected.

Education Minister Dr Evarist Bartolo had promised KSU on July 3, one day before the unions declared industrial action, that a long-term solution would be found.

Callus said that student protests will be considered as a response if the issue is not resolved soon. In the meantime, KSU encourages students to continue sending complaints.

Posted in News

Young migrants not being integrated

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Forming just 3% of the Maltese youth population, migrants are suffering from severe social exclusion. This is according to a new national draft policy, launched today by Youth Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius, which addresses many issues related to young people. The document values the integration of asylum seekers in schools and the community through adapted training programmes and non-formal teaching.

Social inclusion for all youths is the ultimate target of the policy, presented during a press conference at the Agenzija Zghazagh centre by Ms Miriam Theuma; chairperson of the consultative committee behind the drafting.

There will be 6 months of public consultations with relevant entities. The aim is to fulfill the action plans proposed in the document by 2020. Secretary Agius said it is important to update youth policy so it can constantly reflect contemporary society.

Social exclusion based on sexual orientation and disability are also addressed, since the committee feels that more acceptance of diversity is necessary. This is a must since both national and European legislation define this type of exclusion to be outright discrimination.

The document currently up for discussion promises more training for youth workers, tackling early school leavers and illiteracy, as well as improvements in the Juvenile Court. Furthermore, it proposes the extension of new youth hubs in higher secondary institutions as well as in Gozo.

An informational seminar for youth organisations and workers will be held in September, and the draft policy itself is available online.

Posted in News

KSU might be forced to take ‘radical steps’

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This afternoon, KSU President Gayle Lynn Callus called for an urgent meeting with University organizations and student representatives to discuss the controversial decisions taken by MUT (Malta Union of Teachers) and UMASA (University of Malta Academic Staff Association) earlier this week.

Both unions have declared the financial proposals from the Government to be unacceptable, and have requested that a new package is offered by next Wednesday. Until any agreement is reached, University and Junior College lecturers have been ordered by the unions to not publish any results. This is of course   a major concern to students, particularly if the deadlines for the revisions of paper and Erasmus+ applications are not extended to respond to this sudden delay.

KSU conjoined this meeting between KPS and KE to affirm a concrete position with all University organizations in the face of another possible refusal by the unions of the Government’s financial package next week. All those attending had the opportunity to voice their opinion and propose ways forward, and the KSU press release entitled ‘Do Not Trample On Our Rights!’ was presented. In it, they re-affirmed that they will maintain a stance of neutrality throughout the ongoing dispute but will continue to fight against the usage of students as a ‘bargaining tool’. KSU urges the parties involved in this dispute to reconsider their positions and come up with a compromise. If no resolution is reached within the coming days, KSU will be forced to take necessary ‘radical steps’.

The consensus reached during this meeting was that any disagreements between the government and the unions should not prove detrimental to students, such as with the non-publication of results. Furthermore it was agreed that negotiations should be speeded up, and that a long-term solution should be aimed at.

No votes were taken during the meeting, but organizations and representatives were encouraged to inform their respective student population of the common positions reached during today’s meeting. KSU, KPS and KE will take further steps to ensure the protection of students’ rights according to what is decided on Wednesday. A KE meeting has been scheduled for the 7th of July.

Posted in News

New ASCS executive to revamp the organisation

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The Association of Students of Commercial Studies (ASCS) invited us to a brief yet interesting launch of their future plans, as proposed by the recently appointed executive who themselves spoke during this event at the University Common Room. Those attending included the organization’s sponsors, University students, representatives from other student organisations, as well as family and friends of the executive members.

A number of members of ASCS were also present who, as the organization’s president Theresa Fenech explained, would constitute four new committees; education, public relations, events and international relations. They will be made up of 22 members participating in an extensive reconstruction of the organization, to be attempted in the upcoming year. As part of her opening address, Fenech pointed out the organization of business visits to Dublin and several local workplaces as one of ASCS’ latest successes.

Education and FEMA (Faculty of  Economics, Management and Accountancy) coordinator Kristina Mifsud discussed the importance of dealing with students’ complaints, particularly regarding exams, and the introduction of a business development competition for University students, the winner of which will get a chance to start that business up. She also announced that ASCS will issue an academic journal that will provide students and lecturers alike with a chance to publish their work.

As International coordinator, Allesandro Busuttil focused on his office’s duties in setting up a committee to aid foreign students, maintaining connections with similar organizations based abroad, and working to enhance international internship opportunities for FEMA students. Events officer Andrea Varazzo’s goal is to launch an events committee that will work towards the organisation of high quality events that will appeal to the entire student body.

The new Public Relations officer Kyle Sultana spoke of the need to improve the organization’s reputation and standards through the initiation of an effective PR strategy that will include the enhanced usage of social media, the creation of professional Youtube videos, and the development of a smartphone application aimed at rendering communication between the ASCS executive board and the student body much easier.

Vice President Daniela Gauci Borda and Financial controller Vanessa Bugeja both discussed the importance of sponsorships and their segmentation into corporate, social and single-event packages. In fully utilizing these sponsorships, Secretary General Denise Balzan proposed a stronger incorporation of FEMA students with prospective workplaces through such schemes as internships and talks by potential employers.  Sales and Marketing officer Silvana Petrova concluded that improving the organization’s image and approach towards the student body will help them reach new heights.

After the new sub-committee members were presented with brightly coloured shirts to commemorate their appointment, outgoing Secretary General Louisa Serge congratulated the new team and expressed her certainty that what ASCS has already achieved will continue to be broadened by the current executive.

Posted in News

The best of Malta Design Week 2014

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On a warm sunny midweek morning, I decided to take a well-deserved study break to see what local and international artists have in store for the Maltese public during this year’s Design Week. Emphasizing on the theme of a micronation, St. Elmo has been turned into an overwhelming hub of creativity with roomfuls of projects, demonstrations, and finished works. Ranging from fashion, interior design and technology-driven exhibitions, to photography, traditional art, and visual installations, this year’s event is definitely a spectacle to be reckoned with.

It was especially exciting to see so many Maltese artists and creators show what they have come up with, many of them after having spent years of studying and gaining experience abroad. My expectations were also conquered by the works of supposed newcomers from MCAST and UoM, whose exhibitions were probably some of my favourites from the whole event.

Since it is difficult to talk about every single thing at Design Week, and also so as not to spoil your experience if you’re still planning on visiting this weekend, here are the 5 exhibits which interested me the most, and why I think that everyone should give them a peek:

 

‘Selekted Malta’ by Duška Malešević

An international photographer’s view of the hustle and bustle of the Maltese Islands provided for my overall favourite exhibit at St. Elmo. For the past 10 years, Malešević has been capturing postcard style snapshots of anything that has caught her eye in our streets, alleyways and squares, and which any avid Instagram user would melt over. Finding them both humorous and insightful, I am not ashamed to say that I couldn’t resist examining every single photo on show.

‘Art and Design’ by MCAST students

Competing with Design Week’s professionals are the stunningly unique works of Maltese students undergoing the range of courses offered by MCAST, particularly those in architecture, interior design, and computer animation. From practical modern furniture designs to abstract metalworks that leave viewers guessing, it is truly positive to see our younger generation engaging itself into putting Malta on the global map of design.

‘Almost Transparent Blue’ by students from University of Belgrade

One of the simplest and yet most awe-inducing exhibits this year comes from a talented group of Serbian architecture students, who are clearly inspired by nature and who give great attention to detail. Most likely unlike anything you’ve seen before, the research and hard work that these students have put into their illustrated works is a breath of fresh air.

‘Miniatures’ by Vitra

This Swiss company brought over to Design Week an exhibition about the history and development of the most underrated yet indispensable piece of furniture; the chair. You might be extremely wrong if you think this would be something boring, because I was never so fascinated by how much has changed in seating design over the centuries. Everything is in cute miniature form too. Need I say more?

‘Defying Complacency’ by UoM students

If photography is one of your passions, then you will undoubtedly enjoy what these soon-to-be graduates in design studies have to offer. They manage to bring to life Maltese and Gozitan landscapes in a hugely refreshing way, including abandoned and ruined sites which you would never expect to translate into beautiful photographs.

 

Spending a couple of hours immersed into, quite literally as the theme promotes, a ‘micronation’ of countless elements of Maltese culture turned contemporary I was, being an artist myself, definitely inspired by some of the participating geniuses. What I would strongly suggest is to visit during the evening or nighttime, in order to appreciate the whole atmosphere of Design Week, especially since some of the exhibits depend on light and illumination to be fully appreciated.

Furthermore, very interesting panels are being held from 8pm onwards, including upcoming talks by furniture designer Gordon Guillaumier on Friday, and London-based fashion photographer Matthew Attard Navarro on Saturday.

Be sure to visit the Maltese Design Week at Fort St. Elmo, Valletta until the 24th May between 10am and 10pm. You can visit their official website at maltadesignweek.com for more information.

 

Posted in Culture

10 Effective Ways to Improve Your Studying

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After the strong reaction to last week’s ’10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stay At UoM To Study’ article, and the fact that finals are now closer than ever, it seemed like perfect timing to write another study-related article which readers can this time actually get something out of. Scrapping pessimistic views on revising, here are 10 practical ways to improve your preparations for these upcoming exams. Some of them might appear obvious but it’s not the first time we tend to forget about them once the going gets tough. Also note that these ways may not all apply to each and every student, so feel free to pick out and adapt the ones you prefer.

 

1. Use highlighters and sticky notes. The reasoning behind it is simply to have notes which are more interesting to look at for hours on end. Line after line of black sentences on white paper tend to get boring after some time, so going for a more colourful approach might help to make the whole process slightly more bearable.

2. Shorten and repeat your notes. If, like me, you tend to give up when going through whole pages of block text, another piece of advice would be to take only the most important points from that text and write or type them elsewhere in the form of separate sentences, therefore creating a much more concise summary of what you need to study. This will prove beneficial when you get to your final revision the day before the exam because, by being able to go through your brief notes quicker, you have more time to repeat them and get them into your coffee-stricken brain.

3. Go for healthy food and drinks. Speaking of coffee, even though it might keep you awake, we all know it’s not that positive in the long run to use it as your only constant beverage. A simple glass or bottle of water by your desk will keep your brain going, especially now that the summer temperatures are starting to kick in. As for food, we all know what is the most accessible and enjoyable to consume while we’re trying to study, but increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet during the next few weeks is guaranteed to help you in many subtle ways.

4. Note down and plan out what you need to study. Instead of starting from your very first lecture and just seeing where it takes you, make sure you make a concrete list of all the topics you have to revise. Keep it with you at all times to make sure you leave nothing out and, at the same time, not to go overboard by going through stuff you don’t actually need to know for your exam. You can also attach each topic in the list with the corresponding pages or chapters you can refer to from your books or other source material you have.

5. Do not study by heart. Unless your lecturer told you do this word for word, in which case he or she might also be wrong, stick to your own unique method of studying instead of forcing yourself to develop photogenic memory. Face the fact that during the exam you will not remember every single detail you would have gone through. Try to repeat and remember the most important points and you should be fine.

6. Take plenty of productive breaks. This implies two things: firstly, make time for short breaks every hour or so that you’ve been studying. Secondly, instead of limiting your study breaks to going on Facebook or watching an episode of your favourite series, try to go for motivational breaks, after which you will actually have the determination to continue studying. Common examples would be going for a short walk or jog, or having a coffee with one of your friends. As long as you are able to unwind and relax during that break, and simultaneously not staying at home stuck by your bedroom desk.

7. Find your own way to stay relaxed. Whether it’s your favourite genre of music in the background, studying on the couch, having scented candles in your room, yoga stretching or squishing the hell out of a stress ball, it’s vital that you find methods to keep calm and decrease your stress levels which work the best for you. And the best way you can achieve this is pretty much by trial and error.

8. Maintain your social life. Sure, clubbing is pretty much out of the question. But locking yourself inside and studying for days on end is not healthy at all. Keep your friends close during this period by occasionally meeting up so you can keep each other’s morals up. It’s ok if you inevitably end up talking about exams or a particular subject you’re finding difficult to get through, as long as you don’t end up psyching each other out, and as a result doing more harm than good. And if you still are not willing to leave the house, especially in the last days before your exam, you can always phone your friends or Skype with them. Just try to opt out of endless hours chatting on Facebook.

9. Use past papers. This is a very effective way of testing yourself and, at the same time, of attaining a clearer idea of what you need to study and what you can expect in the final exam. Get your hands on recent papers and try them out once you feel you have grasped the topic at hand. Ask your course mates, or contact your lecturer if possible, whenever you find difficulties, or you can even organize a study group during which you can go through past papers together. See, that’s another way of keeping your social life on track during exam period.

10. Do not force all-nighters. I myself can never stay focused after midnight, which means I can never do all-nighters. If they work for you its fine, but personally I’ve found that sleeping earlier will help you wake up early too, which works for me since I tend to go through more material in the morning when my brain is a fresh clean slate. I also wouldn’t advise an all-nighter the day before your actual exam. Even if you still have a lot to revise and not enough time to do so except if you spend the night awake, an all-nighter will only exhaust you and drain your energy once you come to the point of sitting down for your exam. If you want to keep nerves on the down low, start early and you will not be disappointed.

Posted in Opinion