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MT 8 May 2016

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MATTHEW VELLA THE minister for the economy, Chris Cardona, and PN deputy leader Mario de Marco engaged in a brief tiff on Twitter over the fact that Sadeen Educational Invest- ment Ltd, the Jordanian company that wants to build a private uni- versity campus, is not yet licensed to operate as a university. In previous reports, MaltaToday has reported that the Sadeen, which was granted public land without any call for tender at Marsaskala and Bormla to develop the so called 'American University of Malta', had ignored – twice – judicial letters from the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) calling upon it to remove the word 'university' from its logo, since it is not licensed as one. Sadeen is only licensed to carry out the activities of a higher edu- cation institution since it does not have enough learning programmes for a university licence. Sadeen is ignoring the education- al watchdog by retaining the 'U' in its 'AUM' logo, which it promotes on its own website Since the warning, the company has set up the following message on its website: 'Sadeen Education Investment Limited (C 65576) is awaiting licensing and accredita- tion by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education in Malta to operate the 'American University of Malta'.' The group is still employing the AUM logo. Earlier this week, Cardona – who is now running for the post of La- bour deputy leader for party affairs following the resignation of Konrad Mizzi – toured the Dock No. 1 area in Bormla where part of the Sadeen campus will be built. On Twitter, Mario de Marco weighed in, telling Cardona "there is no such thing as an American University of Malta." Although not tagging Cardona, the bullish minister could not resist a retort: "Time will tell dear Mario. Bet some bedfellows will be lec- turing there very soon. IIP repeat #doublestandards." The reference was to the PN's strong opposition to the sale of Maltese citizenship under the Indi- vidual Investor Programme, which eventually attracted law firms and audit firms whose partners are par- ty officials or former candidates, like PN executive president Ann Fenech or former EP candidate Stefano Mallia – who harshly criti- cised the government's handling of the passport sale. In today's MaltaToday (see page 4) Cardona has also denied a con- flict of interest over the fact that a former law partner, Mark Vassallo, who is an agent for the IIP, promotes his services as 'CV Advocates' (Car- dona & Vassallo). Cardona says he is paid rent for the use of his office by Vassallo but that he has resigned his position in the law firm. Sadeen was presented a judicial letter on 11 March from the NCF- HE, which said that using the word university was "misleading. The American Institute of Malta is not a University." Another official notification imposing an administrative pen- alty was sent to Sadeen Education Investment on 18 March. "In both instances, no communication was received from Sadeen Education Investment Ltd. In the coming days, in line with Chapter 12 of the Laws of Malta, the NCFHE shall be taking further steps to secure settlement of such administrative penalty," the spokesperson said, suggesting legal action for the pay- ment of the fine. The NCFHE said it was not in a position to divulge the amount of the penalty it had imposed. Under education laws, licensees who breach licensing rules are li- able to an administrative fine not exceeding €4,000 and an additional penalty of not more than €116 for each day during which the offence continues. In 2015 the Labour government announced with much fanfare that Sadeen would build an 'American University of Malta' over a campus stretching across 90,000 square metres of virgin land. The area was downscaled to 18,000 square me- tres and part of the proposed cam- pus relocated to the Bormla docks after a national protest against the use of virgin land, led by the fledg- ling Front Harsien ODZ. Sadeen plans to attract 4,000 students with an annual intake of 1,000 freshers from the Middle East, the Gulf region, North Africa as well as Europe. maltatoday, SUNDAY, 8 MAY 2016 News Cardona, de Marco trade barb over non-university

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