The University of Malta plans to open an international university near the centre of Rome.
Students will pay about Pounds 7,500 a year to attend the Link Campus University of Malta, where they will be taught by an international roster of academics.
The University of Malta, which has a substantial international faculty, is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and its degrees are recognised in the United Kingdom. When it opens in October, Link Campus will offer a three-year BA, a four-year BA (Hon), and a two-year MA in four fields: international management, international studies, communications management and international legal affairs. Each course will offer a variety of specialisations with an international context.
"We will have between 240 and 300 students, fewer than 90 for each course," associate registrar Alan Taylor said. "Our marketing campaign is just starting, but we have already had applications from Italy, Turkey, Russia and various parts of Eastern Europe, one of our main targets. Students will be selected on the basis of background, school performance and a formal entrance exam. We are aiming at creating a centre of excellence, where each student will have a personal tutor."
One aim is to provide an efficient, high-standard alternative to Italian state universities, which are infamous for their bureaucratic and organisational inefficiency.
Link Campus, which will take a vocational approach, preparing students to work in international business and management, hopes to attract applicants from outside Italy. Teaching will be in Italian and English for the first two years, and exclusively in English during the third year. A third language may be used in some cases.
The project, which has the support of a consortium of Italian businessmen, was in part masterminded by Vincenzo Scotti, a former Italian minister and leader of the Christian Democratic Party. Professor Scotti will lecture in economics at the college. Salvo Ando, a key member of Italy's old Socialist Party, will teach law.
In the Italian media, the University of Malta, where many Italian academics have teaching posts, was described recently as a nationalistic institution closely controlled by the Maltese government. It was pointed out that the Maltese president, Guido de Marco, has the chair of criminal law, that Tonio Borg and Joe Borg, respectively interior and foreign ministers, both teach in the law department, and that finance minister Josef Bonnici is dean of the economics department. But both Mr Taylor and Professor Scotti reject this criticism.
"Malta has a population of only 380,000," said Mr Taylor. "It stands to reason that some eminent academics should also have a role in government. It was also true in Italy, and is still true to some extent that the country's important thinkers should work in both politics and the university."