GUEST POST: ‘We are open in everything’ – A Trip to the American University of Malta

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2019-07-07T11:54:32+02:00Sun, 7th Jul '19, 11:54|0 Comments

Lizzie Eldridge goes under-cover following up her series on this website on the American University of Malta with a little exploration of her own. It is reasonable to expect Adrian Hillman will now post photo ID’s of Ms Eldridge at the security guard’s desk.

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You’ve got to wonder which dumb-ass schmuck head PR person had the incredibly astute foresight to choose the fourth of July as the date for the AUM’s Open Day. I mean, what else would they choose for an historical Maltese building adorned with the stars and stripes and the name Sadeen emblazoned on its bricks? Who wouldn’t want independence when you’re a sham academic outfit owned by a construction magnate who should have had a starring role in a B movie offtake called ‘My Big Fat Jordanian Wedding?’ Who wouldn’t be celebrating freedom when you’ve been sold huge amounts of public land by a government that’s so corrupt we need a new word for corruption and who stage-managed an entire accreditation process for an ‘American university’ that couldn’t even be bothered to put up a decent front on its own Open Day? 

I’ve written a lot about the AUM and I’m still looking into some of the aspects of what’s going on there in closer detail, but actually setting foot inside the place was a whole new ball game. Pitch and toss I’d call it – a Yankee pitcher indulging in self-gratification.

On arrival, I was greeted by a young woman from Lithuania – all smiles and sweetness – who asked me to type my name and e-mail address into a laptop. My details were as genuine as the place I was in. 

I was then presented with an Open House Passport, laughable given that Malta has been condemned for flogging real ones and that a large number of students supposed to fill the many vacant seats at this esteemed institution absconded into Europe with their newly acquired visas. Add this to the fact that as ‘a recognised tertiary educational institution’, the AUM can recommend Maltese citizenship and the same cynical sense of humour underlying July the Fourth is blatant.

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This is taking the piss big time. They’ve got what they wanted and they don’t need to make an effort any more.  Why would you when you’ve been handed 18,000 square metres of ODZ land and the historic Dock 1 at Cospicua? Why would you give a shit about what the general public think when the majority of them support the very government who committed this act of daylight robbery? 

The Open Day stank of not giving a shit, a mixture of the Mormons meet the Moomins with a dash of Arabic spice thrown in. 

There was a disconcerting dewy-eyed delusion about the staff I met, and the number was minimal. A Canadian-Maltese woman seemed very stars and stripey with her unnatural glow of joy. A Maltese woman had lived all her life in England but returned to teach English as a foreign language to students who, by the sounds of it, can hardly speak a word. A Colombian woman also taught English and she proudly showed me the latest editions of Cambridge course books, Cambridge, as she told me, being an excellent publisher. 

I wanted to say that unless she was deliberately abbreviating the full publisher’s name then Cambridge is actually a city in England where there’s a real university with real academic courses and real academics who really teach real subjects and really have qualifications and really write books and really do research and really work in offices that are part of an historical university that yes, has a history of elitism, but isn’t only for the privileged and doesn’t have to fake its credentials as a university because it simply is. It may not be perfect but it’s a million miles away from this flimsy charade you’ve constructed out of thin air on huge stretches of ground that belong to the people like that man, for example, who’s quietly fishing in the sea right outside your false door. 

When this false door was opened to an exceptionally small number of visitors, there was a tacit assumption you’d either bought into their dream or who cares if you hadn’t. After recording my pseudonym on their computer, I was asked to take a seat in front of a desk replete with American flags just in case you’d forgotten where you were. Waiting excitedly for the other guests, I was placed in a group of 5 to begin our guided tour.