Following the budget speech delivered by Finance Minister, Edward Scicluna, the Third Eye met up with the President of Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU), Becky Micallef, and put forward a number of questions.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's budget?
I am happy about the fact that full-time mature students will be getting a stipend, as this was proposed on SDM for KSU’s electoral manifesto this year. This was subsequently lobbied for by KSU with the minister for education and employment, Evarist Bartolo, and has now materialised.
What, in your opinion, are the best outcomes of this budget?
The fact that Gozitan students received an increase in their grant is a positive move. Additonally, the reduced tax rates on sports will also be of benefit to students, whilst the cheaper licenses on motorcycles and scooters will go hand in with another one of SDM for KSU’s proposals for discounts on motorcycle lessons.
What are your thoughts on the stipend increase?
Whilst acknowledging the increase in stipends, I feel that the Government has once again disregarded the need for investment in research. In order to address this concern, KSU will be launching a research fund for students to voluntarily donate an amount of their stipend to research. Just €1 per month by all students will roughly raise an impressive €120,000 in one scholastic year.
Is there anything in this budget that you hoped to see but wasn't included?
As I have already mentioned, I hoped to see investment in research. Furthermore, the fact the we need to have a more holistic approach when it comes to transport was not adequately addressed. Although the number of police and traffic wardens will increase, as well as fines for contraventions, this is not enough and we need a plan for a more efficient transport system and safer roads so that students will not be afraid of riding a scooter or bike to university. The idea of carpooling should have been taken more seriously with incentives that encourage the general public to carpool. In this respect, KSU already has a fully functional carpool app on their website and is constantly working on getting more people to use it.
KSU will also be launching a detailed report on the budget in the coming days.