AUM may have never intended to offer long-term employment, say academics

Academics have filed court proceedings alleging unfair dismissal after they were terminated just short of six months of employment

Five academics formerly employed at the American University of Malta have filed court proceedings alleging unfair dismissal.

They alleged being used by AUM to acquire better accreditation. The academics said the university’s owner, Sadeen Education Investment Limited, may have never had the intention of offering long-term employment.

Dawn Adrienne Saliba, Stephen Robert Wassell, Leonid Simon Tevlin, Mark William Neal and Marlen Elliot Harrison, all of whom are experienced lecturers, filed a judicial protest against Sadeen last week.

They claimed that the company had “used the promise of high salaries and attractive benefits to lure qualified and experienced lecturers to come to Malta from abroad to try and acquire a better accreditation”.

However, AUM had left them high and dry when it then terminated the employment of the majority of its staff just short of six months after they were engaged.

Before the end of the six-month probation period, in December 2017, the protestors had all been assigned work  “beyond over and above their lecturing duties”. This was a result of the university’s “incompetent decision to terminate administrators at the American University of Malta who were specifically engaged previously by the protested company”.

On 10 January 2018, the protest reads, Sadeen had “unceremoniously notified the protestors that their employment contract was being terminated without providing any just cause or explanation, except that the six months probation period... was being resorted to in their regard without any regret towards the protestors”.

This behaviour had contributed to prevailing circumstances where only a small number of students were recruited to study at the AUM “as a result of the pretested company’s deficient business strategies as well as of its board of directors’ irrational and incompetent decisions”.

These decisions included the termination of senior administration staff, including the marketing director and the vice president of academic affairs. The terminations made it an “impossible feat” to recruit students.

The “irrational and incompetent decisions” together with the abuse of the six-month probation period could plausibly also be interpreted to indicate that [Sadeen] never had any intention of offering long-term employment to the protestors”.

The five academics claim to have suffered severe emotional and financial distress as a result of the decisions, especially due to they were not able to plan their future and that of their families “when they were given the assurance and not an impression that all was fine”.

Lawyer Michael Tanti-Dougall signed the protest.

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