Written by Gabrielle Grixti, Daniela Chatlani & Rachele Farrugia
MMSA president-elect, Omar Chircop, speaking with The Yuppie on Tuesday, released a statement regarding the threat that Barts Medical School is posing to current and future UOM medical students, saying “We will keep on working to make sure that our education is improved rather than negatively affected.”
What is Barts Medical School?
Barts Medical School is an institution based in London, which in 2014 expanded its teaching practices to Gozo. It has been the subject of some controversy in the past, with the amount of attending students seemingly falling short of what had initially been desired. A new campus is being built for the school in Victoria, but till then students have – according to The Times of Malta – been using premises at the Gozo Sixth Form.
The current students that are enrolled in Barts Medical School will be starting their clinical rotations next year. These clinical rotations were supposed to take place at the Gozo General Hospital. However, due to renovations which have not been completed yet by the hospital, the Barts students will now be joining the University of Malta third-year medical students as of next year.
Medical students have already previously complained that there is too much overcrowding in their groups, and that they had experienced difficulty in following cases in the pediatric and obstetric wards. With the addition of a further “15 to 20 Barts medical students” next year, which was confirmed by the Health Ministry, MMSA is concerned with how this will affect the medical education of the UM students
Some weeks ago, MMSA held an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss this pressing issue with the current medical students, and to make sure that everybody was informed on the situation. They emphasised on the importance of “transparency and involvement in decision-making.”
MMSA is currently looking to meet with all the current stakeholders and draw up a legally binding document which will safeguard the rights and quality of education of the current UM medical students. This plan, according to Chircop, is not meant to “attack the Barts’ students at all.”
MMSA stated that rather than prioritising the University of Malta students, they “have been asked to make do and accommodate these new students.”
“We call upon the authorities to first and foremost safeguard the education of our local University and to continue expanding and improving on our local resources and teaching, especially since some of our current resources will now be directed towards Barts too.”