Personal Views · 2021-04-05 0

What can the University of Malta learn and adapt from the COVID-19 Pandemic: a student’s perspective

This pandemic has impacted all of us in a number of ways. Either at our workplaces, at our schools, and even the way we meet up with our friends and families. From the University of Malta’s (UOM) perspective, this has affected the way it operates and also how it delivers its varied range of courses.

Most university lectures have been shifted online and some students have even commenced their 1st year without even being physically present for the first time on campus. The UOM’s library is operating in a very limited manner, while the physical online presence of students on campus is being kept to a minimum.

Eventually, once this pandemic is over, a shift will take place back to physical lectures. However, would this be the optimal way forward?

As a master’s student, I believe that a hybrid system should be adopted. Once this pandemic blows over, online lectures should still be available and students have the opportunity to choose between attending physically or online.

The advantage of this would be that the UOM can increase its international intake given that lectures can be accessed online. This is one of the big goals which our recently elected rector has. However, this would require UOM to seriously increase its IT infrastructure in order to accommodate for this. At international universities such as Harvard or Cambridge, the recording of lectures is already common practice.

This hybrid system would also accommodate students who live far away from UOM as they can avoid the hassle of traveling long distances and can still attend their lectures.

However, from a rector’s perspective, an argument could be made that such a hybrid system might promote laziness as students might prefer online lectures over physical ones when presented with the offer and that lecture rooms would remain empty.

With this said, I believe that the current online system has accommodated a lot of students including myself. Students, including me, have slowly accepted the reality and adapted to the situation just like how lecturers are managing to deliver the lectures via online means.

It is true that students would prefer the online option far more than being physically present. Personally, attending all of my lectures online over a period of time has taught me otherwise. The big lesson here for me was that nothing changes human interaction. Moving everything online has negatively impacted me as it has taken away the physical communication that I had with my university friends, a fundamental part of my university experience.

Thus, I think the perfect compromise would be for both options to be available. Another suggestion could be to interchange between one online lecture and one physical lecture.

Without a doubt, most university students work some sort of part-time job or full-time job. And there are times when work overlaps with a university lecture. From UOM’s perspective, this would be unacceptable as a priority should be given to the course you are attending which I understand. However, the reality is that students have to get a job that sustains their life including paying for rent, food, car, fuel, etc. Most jobs unfortunately do not offer flexible hours where you are able to leave to attend a lecture and then return to continue.

Therefore, if a hybrid system exists this would aid students in attending that 1 lecture which they cannot attend due to work.

When it comes to the library, their aim should always be to maximize the potential which databases have. These include systems such as HYDI, OAR, and also international databases as well.

To conclude, I hope that these comments and arguments are shared sentiments amongst students and not just by myself. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

My last blog post.