Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT

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  • Subject: Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT
  • From: Christopher Staff
  • Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 18:33:49 +0200

Hi all,

Melvin and others have raised some questions about research at


The Department of Computer Science and AI published the article "R&D

initiatives in information technology" in the November 22nd 2001 edition

of the The Times Business supplement which briefly outlined a framework

for collaborative research and development between the department and

industry. Following the publication of this article, the department has

secured sponsorship for a couple of projects which will commence in

October, and we expect to receive local funding for another 3 projects

in the very near future. We are also actively talking to several other

companies. Information about the research areas predominant in the

department and the scope for collaboration is available at


We hope that the collaborative research and development groups flourish

to provide a mechanism for industry to benefit from the skills available

in the department (including undergraduate/postgraduate students); for

technical innovations (for example, student projects) developed at

university to find an outlet in industry; and for industry and the

department to benefit from working closely with each other (bilateral

knowledge and skills transfer). Collaborations may also lead to joint

applications for EU funding through FP6.

With regards to entrepreneurial skills, the ETC provides 200 hours of

Small Business Management Courses

(http://www.etc.org.mt/services/shortcourses.htm), including

Entrepreneurial Skills. IPSE (http://www.ipse.org.mt/) provides training

courses on preparing business plans and analysing business ideas. The

advantage of these courses is that one doesn't have to be a university

student to attend them.

One doesn't have to have a good idea to be an entrepreneur, though being

able to recognise a good idea can be an advantage. As Melvin pointed

out, being a technical innovator at University is often an end in

itself - the work is done to obtain a degree, and then the graduate

joins the labour force, often happy enough to be a contribution to

somebody else's Business Plan. The Board of Studies for Information

Technology at the University of Malta annually hosts the BSc IT (Hons)

Students' Projects Exhibition which is a platform for students to

exhibit the fruits of their hard work, and an opportunity for industry

to view the projects, talk to the students and staff, and harness this

innovation. Through the collaborative R&D groups, there is also scope

for industry to influence the type of research projects undertaken by

final year undergraduate and postgraduate students.


On Tuesday, August 27, 2002, at 08:33 , [email protected]


Dear All,

I think that the fulcrum of our problem is our own culture. Throughout


ages our society was inculcated with the fact of being reactive, rather

than proactive. We have always obeyed orders and that is what we do


How can we be proactive, innovative and entrepreneurial if there is not


right environment to do so. I very much welcome initiatives like KBIC


who or what is bridging the gap between the school desk and institutions

like KBIC? Let us take for example research. Much have been said about

university students and their lack of entrepreneurial skills. Everybody

knows that students at university do a lot of research to be able to do

their assignments and above all their thesis and dissertation. But what

happens with all this research. Well I think everybody knows that these

assignments and dissertations are left there on the shelves to dust


the collection of the previous years. And surely enough you cannot


the students for leaving their work idle in some sort of Melitensia


There is a missing link between the lecturer/reviewer and the

industry. I

am sure that out of the thousands of dissertations that every year are

handed in there are those excellent ones which can be used by the


and the central government. This is a clear example of what happens


research - is the University promoting the use of these works, has the

private sector enough confidence and respect towards university as an

institution preparing high level graduates? Does the industry value


the potential of these students? Perhaps they might argue that this is


theory and no practice, but in reality we are afraid to admit that a


has come up with a brighter idea than a person with hands on experience.

Perhaps all there needs to be done is some polishing and fine tuning of


idea. The right mixture is research and experience. Perhaps


think that research is nothing but lots of paper and a waste of time.


let us take for example the projects undertaken by the faculty of

Architecture and the Faculty of Engineering. And the list goes on and


And then we want the students to be entrepreneurial!?!?! Come on what

do we

expect with a system like this. We are happy with reinventing the

wheel and

in the meantime we lose precious time.

As a nation we are recative to the situations that are shaping other

countries. In some aspects we are perhaps ten and fifteen years behind

other countries. The education system does not permit students to


their potential. We have to be submissive because otherwise we fall

out of

the whole system. I have friends abroad that their University life is


more interesting - they are offered scholarships to go and get hands-on

experience while conitnuing thier studies abroad. The amount of


you earn by simply interacting with your foreign counterparts is


And all this is happenning while Maltese students are forced to do


else but study. Then they finish university, apply for a job and the


question they are asked is "How much experience do you have?" We all


what happens then. Someone may argue that now students have the

opportunity to interact with their counterparts with variuos EU


but let's be honest - are these an integrative part of the curriculum?


it weren't for these EU programmes what were the options available


by the Universtiy and other similar institutions? The answer is simply

nothing, and this confirms how reactive we are. We wait and wait and


continue waiting until someone comes knocking on our door!!! Why are


options available only to University students (sorry there is another

programme for vocational students? Are University studenets living on


Mount Olympus? What about the other students (technical, designers,

artists)? Are they not part of the system? What programmes are


for these students? Let us take for example the Institute of Tourism

Studies. The courses offered there with international exposure as an

integrative part of the studies is something which surely can be

adapted to

other courses on this island. Everyone understands that the right

mixture is

public, private and in this case student contribution. Everyone is

aware of

this but no one does nothing about it!!

And then we expect to advance ahead of others? Simply tell me how? I


sorry that I am sounding so negative but in this forum I have heard


more than criticism towards the lack of entrepreneurial skills amongst


students. But the real problem is our culture. As a recent graduate in

Management we had credits in Entrepreneurial skills. We were divided in

five groups of perhaps eight people each and every group had to think


something innovative and throughout the 2 months of the course we had to

device a marketing plan , a strategy, budget etc. Every group came up


innovative ideas, mind you we were not the first ones to do it, Previous

students have done it and it is still being done today. The fact is


people change, ideas change but what remains constant is that these


are left there becuase they served their only purpose - they earned us

credits and we graduated!

Sorry for keeping so long - my next contribution will be about an

article I

came across which comes just in time for this forum.

-----Original Message-----

From: [email protected] [

[email protected]]On

Behalf Of Ray Muscat

Sent: 26 August 2002 18:32

To: [email protected]

Subject: RE: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT

Brian & Robert,

My earlier contribution referred to ICT graduates that might be


for a business career and not for those that are looking for

employment. I

agree with Brian that the academic standards of graduates is indeed

high and

compares very well (if not better) than foreign counterparts. Thus, I


that this is not a priority.

However, if we want to invest in the local potential (as other

countries are

aggressively doing) then we must broaden horizontally the knowledge of


graduates by the inclusion of or exposure to basic entrepreneurial


I fail to see why ICT graduates shouldn’t start their own businesses.

Foreign ICT graduates do!

With regards University bashing – this is surely not the intention.


building is essentially the process of defining what one needs to


but in the context of what one already has or could realistically

change. Of

course, the latter involves the careful assessment of how the status quo

could be challenged, think out of the box, consider the implications and

limitations and see where we could improve – and yes, all round 360 deg.

Surely, a non-entrepreneurial university is not only its problem, but


so of the whole community. It may be interesting to note that in the

EU, the

estimated number of spin-out programmes (not individual projects)


universities or research institutes amount to 308.

Ray Muscat


-----Original Message-----

From: CSM chair []

Sent: 27 August 2002 02:00

To: [email protected]

Subject: Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT


you've made a very important point.

In a previous discussion it has been said that perhaps the university

is not

turning out the required high level of ICT graduates. I believe that


is incorrect, and that the University is turning out graduates to the

required academic level.

However, an adequate supply of suitably-qualified ICT graduates will not

give us what we're after, which is growth of the ICT industry in Malta.

Perhaps ICT students are not entrepreneurial by nature, perhaps any

entrepreneurial spirit they may have has never been encouraged, or


they were never taught how to turn ideas into business.

Perhaps we don't even need ICT graduates who are also entrepreneurs.

Perhaps all we need is entrepreneurs, who can get an ICT business

started up

and employ ICT professionals to develop his ideas.

In any case, there's a lot that needs to be done to develop the ICT


in Malta, but raising the academic level of University graduates is


low on that list.


Brian Warrington

Chairman, Computer Society of Malta


----- Original Message -----

From: Ray Muscat

To: [email protected]

Sent: Monday, August 26, 2002 11:50 AM

Subject: RE: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT


I like your contribution. Indeed, our current education system is


Instead of trying to nurture the innovative and inquisitive elements of


children, the system is filtering the few academically gifted students


the many practical (and possibly those that do think out of the box)

students. The system is preparing students to University, which is


not entrepreneurial, leading to graduates that are indeed very low on

creativity. On the other hand, given the opportunity (such as Young

Enterprise), our youngsters prove to all that they can indeed be


Ray Muscat


-----Original Message-----

From: Juan Borg Manduca []

Sent: 22 August 2002 14:17

To: [email protected]

Subject: Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT

I'd like to add to this suggestion (see email from Leonard Bezzina


because it particularly interests me.

Since I have been involved in formative assessments for some time now,


area worth pursuing is how to develop a system which will evolve the

present system of education (exam based) into one which will take into

consideration the special needs of 'individual' students.

In fact, the National Minimum Curriculum makes reference to introducing

formative assessments as part of a school's delivery mechanism.

In many cases, exams are actually detrimental to our children, and


of achieving the desired target of 'educating' our children, are


harming them by focusing on getting the students 'through' exams.

The major problem with today's system is that it does the exact

opposite of

what such a system is supposed to do ie instead of the system being

made to

fit the student, the student is being forced to fit the system.

I would categorise students into three main groups, a) bookworm, b)


by observation, c) learning by 'hands-on'.

The present system caters for only the bookworm (as we all know), and


other students end up falling through the net, and in most cases being

branded as failures. This branding of students occurs at as early an

age as

5-6 years.

The advent of ICT presents us with a unique opportunity to design a case

study, eg take the syllabus of one particular subject in one particular


and present the same syallabus in three different formats to suit all


of students (ie one format will address the bookworm and may not differ

considerably from today's presentation method, but the other two would


course ensure that the student learns by using techniques customised to


particular group). The use of computers will be the fulcrum of delivery



Of course, proper tests are to be designed in order to be able to


students properly.

In this manner, one could use this case study on a group of students

from a

particular school (willing to participate), and results (statistics)


then be used and compared in order to gauge success (or failure) of the


These are just my thoughts..........


----- Original Message -----

From: Leonard Bezzina

To: [email protected]

Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2002 1:18 PM

Subject: Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT

Dear Jennifer,

I would like to suggest the following scenario:

Malta would become a centre of excellence in ICT in education (practice


theory). This implies a situation where all teachers are making the best

possible use of ICT in order to enhance teaching and learning in all


of the curriculum and at all levels of our education system (primary,

secondary, post-secondary and tertiary). This vision includes making

most of

the communication capabilities of current and future technology in

order to

promote learning at a distance and at all times of the day (e-learning)


at facilitating communication between parents/guardians and the school.


also implies a situation where Malta develops innovative ways of making


of ICT in our classrooms. Once such a vision is in place we can

become a

Mediteranean centre of excellence in teacher education in this area. We


then offer appropriate University level courses mainly through distance


Leonard Bezzina

Jennifer Cassingena Harper wrote:

Dear Colleagues, We would like to initiate an on-line discussion on

alternative futures for Malta in ICT. We would like you to send us up

to ten

different scenario themes for Malta in ICT. These can be scenario


focused on:

* specific niche areas (e.g. Malta as an e-learning hub)

* or ICT-enabled initiatives (e.g. on-line gambling)

* or telecomms-related initiatives

* or any other ideas in general !!

Ideally, this exercise should not involve too much time - maximum 30

minutes - just jot down what comes immediately to mind. So send us your

feedback if possible by Thursday 22 August.Looking forward to hearing


you, Jennifer

___________Dr. Jennifer Cassingena


Head, Policy Unit,

Malta Council for Science and Technology

Villa Bighi, Bighi, Kalkara CSP 11, Malta

email: [email protected] http://www.mcst.org.mt

direct dial-in: +356 23602125

tel. +356 21 660340 (fax) +356 21 660341



Dr Leonard Bezzina

Department of Mathematics, Science and Technical Education

Faculty of Education

University of Malta

Msida MSD 06


E-mail address: [email protected]

Telephone number: 3290 2404



Dr Christopher Staff

Dept. of Computer Science and A.I., University of Malta,

Tal-Qroqq, Msida MSD 06, Malta, Europe

Tel: +(356)-23202506, Fax: +(356)-21320539

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: http://www.cs.um.edu.mt/~cstaff

Got 30 seconds to spare? Visit http://www.thehungersite.com to make a no

cost food donation to the United Nations World Food Programme.


sender : Christopher Staff


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  • References:
    • RE: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in ICT
      • From: melvin.pellicano

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