European Institute of Education Director of Courses and Administration Antonello Cappitta speaks to David Lindsay and explains the success of the University of Leicester MBA and Doctorate courses in Malta, which provides the university with the most student registrations from all the countries in which it is present
What were the founding concepts Institute and what role does it fill today?
From its inception, the European Institute of Education was offering a range of internationally accredited courses in a completely different mode than the traditional academic system present in Malta.
The University of Leicester and more over its Management Centre were impressed with the institute’s idea of being established as its Malta resource centre. They had also shown scepticism due to Malta’s geographical size. From the very first day after signing the contract, we never looked back and now it turns out that Malta is Leicester’s number one centre for student registrations. Our students are also highly regarded within the University of Leicester due to the excellent results they constantly achieve.
During the first five years, the institute always looked forward and established agencies with academic institutions such as University of Sunderland, University of York, University of Nottingham, University of Ulster, the UK Institute of Professional Managers and Administrators, and, I am happy to announce, that as from next October we will be running outreach courses for the European University (Switzerland).
These special relationships have facilitated Maltese students with the opportunity of studying for internationally accredited courses by following the course wholly in Malta and being a local point of reference for all their needs. We now cater for more than 80 different courses in different levels that range from a level 2 certificate and very soon up to a Doctorate degree.
When was the European Institute of Education set up and what is your role inside the organisation?
I have been involved within the European Institute of Education since its early days of being set up in January 2000 by being employed as a Financial Controller.
In January 2003, I was appointed to the board of directors with the title of Director of Courses and Administration. These areas are very important within the Institute. From the administrative side I am responsible for the maintenance of our students’ records, which have to be maintained as required by the foreign institutions they are studying with.
Since our students obtain the same degrees as though they have studied abroad, we are considered as an extension of the main campus and, as such, are audited on a yearly basis both by the staff of the university themselves, or by the accreditation agencies which accredit their programs.
I enjoy the Courses section since this gives me the opportunity to meet new people who visit our offices to enquire about our courses. You get to listen to their stories and design an academic path with them, which will help them pursue the qualifications they need to advance in their careers and to remain competitive in job mobility.
Education is an ever-changing challenge that Malta is facing and gone are the days that a job is for life. One has to update oneself to remain focused.
Distance learning or taking up an MBA course many years after leaving school can sometimes be very challenging, how does the institute help its students?
I frequently receive positive comments from the students about the institute’s staff, who tell me that they feel at home whilst dealing with us.
We try to keep this friendly atmosphere as we feel that this is important for our students who see us as their refuge as sometimes they need us to comfort them and drive them towards obtaining their qualifications. We apply what we call an A-Z policy, which, translated in every day words, means we take care of students from the very first enquiry till their graduation ceremony.
In fact, I make it a point to attend all graduation ceremonies occurring abroad and assist the graduates and their families and make sure that they enjoy the graduation ceremony. From an academic point of view, the Institute has a pool of accredited tutors who may assist the students throughout their respective course.
What are the Institute's plans for the immediate future?
The Institute is currently passing through a restructuring programme which is devouring most of my working day. However, thanks to strict time management skills I still manage to find that necessary time to help people.
Last year, the Institute has launched its own management school called the European School of Management, which attracted a number of students for its level 2 and level 3 internationally accredited certificates and diploma courses which can be studied by distance learning or by classroom tutorials.
A language school called Universal Language Services Malta is also housed within the Institute and has attracted numerous foreigners who choose Malta as their base to study languages.
The last and most challenging project which is in our immediate plans is the establishment of the European University-taught courses in Malta, which forms part of a larger network of campuses situated in various European countries. The Institute will have an office in all campuses and will be involved in international marketing of all its courses worldwide. This university campus will provide our students with the possibility of studying their modules in Malta or part of their modules abroad, thus giving an international flavour to their degree. On the other hand, Malta’s economy will benefit too with the influx of foreigners who will choose our University Campus to obtain their degrees.
What is your own personal background and what qualities do you bring to the Institute?
I studied and graduated in accountancy at the Malta Institute of Accountants and the Institute of Financial Accountants, UK. During my studies I was working on a full-time basis with Gatt, Galea & Co, a local audit firm. The partners of the firm, who at the time were my bosses, are now my best friends and I owe much to them for giving me the opportunity of obtaining the necessary experience within the accountancy and auditing sector.
Following my stint at Gatt, Galea & Co., I was approached by a group of people who wanted to establish an educational institute, to join them as a Financial Controller and be involved in the setting up of this organisation. I realised that this could be a good opportunity for me to have hands-on experience in setting up an organisation from scratch.
After just one year of operations, two of the original founders lost interest in the venture and I found myself being involved in a management buyout and was able to obtain a controlling interest in the Institute’s holding company.
Since I was raised up within a family which owned a business it was always one of my dreams to work within my own business and this triggered me to go through the negotiation process to acquire the stake within the Institute’s holding company.
I recently embarked on an MBA degree since I believe that it is important for me and will help me to enhance my entrepreneurial and business skills. You can imagine that a family, a full time job and the MBA leaves me little time to dedicate to my hobbies, which include sailing, watching football and reading. But I still do my best to find slots for my hobbies since these help me to relax.
How do you juggle a hectic working life with your personal life?
Well, although I am involved in a very demanding job I can really say that my working life enhances my personal life as it gives me the opportunity of meeting various people coming from all walks of life.
My work gives me the opportunity of enhancing my business contacts coming from various organisations and helps in making new friends too, which for a small place like Malta, is extremely important.
However, I enjoy doing my job and given the opportunity to choose it again in another life, I wouldn’t think twice to accept it. I see this job as a service to the local community and my greatest satisfaction in life is not making money, but helping other people to achieve their potential and dreams. I can’t, however, end this interview without expressing my gratitude to Daniela, my wife, who is always by my side and is a pillar of support for me. She takes care of our daughter Julia-Nicole and also manages to do a myriad of other things. She and Julia-Nicole are the reason why I always look forward to finishing the day’s work and go back home to spend some quality time with my family.