Heritage Malta and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that envisages, inter alia, the setting up of a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Conservation as full-time courses delivered by MCAST. The MOU also provides for the granting of free access, whenever possible, to MCAST students and staff for Heritage Malta’s museums and sites.
Through the MOU, both parties have agreed to establish a working group to collaborate on the setting up of the courses in Conservation, both of which will include academic content as well as a traineeship scheme. Heritage Malta, in collaboration with the Institute for the Public Services, has pledged to issue several scholarships in relation with these degrees and others, according to the needs that arise from time to time. The agency will guarantee full-time employment to a limited number of sponsored students following the successful completion of their respective course.
Apart from free access to museums and sites to more than 8,000 MCAST students, Heritage Malta will give special discounts on its publications to MCAST students and lecturers and provide complimentary publications to MCAST’s libraries. The agency will also make available locations within its remit to be used as classroom extensions by MCAST lecturers. It will support MCAST students in their research studies, mainly by ensuring access to research data and by encouraging them to carry out original research on museums, galleries and heritage studies in relation to Heritage Malta.
Whenever possible, practical and fieldwork sessions will be carried out at Heritage Malta sites, including its Conservation and Scientific Laboratories.
On its part, MCAST will consult with Heritage Malta on any requirements of particular expertise, professions and skills which are deemed to be absent in the local labour market, in order to conceive courses to mitigate such requirements. Whenever possible, MCAST will invite members of Heritage Malta’s staff to participate in lecturing and fieldwork run by visiting scholars, so as to complement their continuous professional development.
MCAST has also pledged to encourage several of its departments and their respective students to focus their research, dissertations and projects on subjects and topics which are pertinent to Heritage Malta and its requirements. Additionally, the college will assist the agency in the publishing and presentation of research papers, if and when requested.
The MOU, covering a six-year period, was signed by Noel Zammit, Chief Executive Officer, on behalf of Heritage Malta; by Prof. Joachim James Calleja, MCAST’s Principal and Chief Executive Officer; and by Permanent Secretary Dr Joyce Cassar on behalf of the Institute for the Public Services. Dr Owen Bonnici, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, and Dr Clifton Grima, Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, were also present.
Minister Owen Bonnici said that this MOU is an important step towards full collaboration between the national agency for cultural heritage and MCAST. “Education is crucial for the strengthening of the ecosystem that safeguards Malta’s cultural heritage. Conservation is also a most important field of study and in this regard MCAST will be contributing greatly towards the benefits that the country will reap in the coming years,” Dr Bonnici said.
Minister Clifton Grima spoke about similar collaborations between MCAST and other entities that place students as a top priority. “Through the setting up of such courses, MCAST is making great strides in widening its prospectus to keep improving opportunities for its students so that they may achieve their aspirations,” Minister Grima said.
Dr Joyce Cassar said that once the Bachelor’s degree in Conservation is ready to be launched, it is planned to be conducted similarly to the Institute for the Public Services’ students scheme. The Institute is committed to further its collaboration with Heritage Malta through training and development that also includes existing Heritage Malta employees.
Noel Zammit said that this MOU aims to consolidate the longstanding relationship between Heritage Malta and MCAST, through the sharing of technical, academic and human resources and supporting students and professional staff to keep abreast of the latest developments in the fields of cultural heritage and conservation. He expressed the hope that the memorandum will spur similar collaborations between the educational sector and Heritage Malta.
Prof. Joachim James Calleja said that the college community may contribute through research and projects covering topics that are relevant to Heritage Malta. These include conservation, marketing, data collection, interpretation, design, creative art, visitor experience, IT, finance and science. MCAST believes in teaching that goes beyond the classroom walls and therefore welcomes free access to historical sites and museums as an alternative educational opportunity for students to discover more about our history and culture.