Government relocates university classes to MES building

The president’s office has decided to temporarily relocate classes of the Maldives National University (MNU) from the old Jamaaludheen building to the MES building.

In February, the government gave the university until June 14 to vacate the Jamaludheen building after the housing ministry declared the building structurally unsafe. But the MNU and its students union expressed concern over the lack of an alternate site.

The Jamaludheen building houses several faculties and is used by more than 1,300 students.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said on social media today that the MNU has not undertaken efforts to vacate the building despite repeated requests and ample opportunity.

With the deadline four days away, Muaz said the president decided to relocate classes to the old MES building to prevent disruption of students’ education.

The authorities will begin efforts to clear out the building on June 14, he said.

The MES building was vacated after the eviction of Mandhu College last week.



Jamaaludheen building unsafe, says Housing Minister

The Jamaaludheen building being used by the Maldives National University (MNU) is unsafe for students, says the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu.

Speaking today at a joint press conference with the Ministry of Education, Dr Muizzu said that many risk assessments had been undertaken regarding the safety of the building in recent years, deeming the building unsafe.

“Cosmetic work has been done in the building to cover up these damages,” he said. “It is very irresponsible of certain individuals to say that the building is safe when it clearly is not. The building is not structurally stable from an engineering perspective.”

Last week, the President’s Office requested that police vacate the premises within seven days, prompting concerned responses from the university, the student union, and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

A subsequent statement released last week by MNU read that the sudden decision to vacate the premises is not viable without a building to move into, and that the university is saddened by the fact that the decision will halt the education of many students.

Dr Muizzu this morning shared pictures from an assessment done in 2013 which showed severely corroded and damaged columns in the building, which is currently used by over 1,300 university students.

However, Dr Muizzu reiterated claims previously put forward by the President’s Office saying that several alternative plots of land had been offered to the university, and that the university had not responded to them.

“We offered various plots of land to the university in recent years,” explained Dr Muizzu. “The university was even offered large spaces in the Hulhumalé development second phase and at Gulhifalhu as well.

Also speaking at the press conference, Minister of Education Dr Aishath Shiham urged all concerned stakeholders to engage in discussion to solve the matter in order to protect the interest of current students.

Dr Shiham stated that the government is currently holding discussions with the management of the university, expressing confidence that the matter will be resolved by February 19.

“The university is a place run on the government budget, for the purposes of further developing our education system. Therefore, we should all be working on this matter together and our biggest concern should be protecting the rights of the students,” she concluded.

The opposition MDP expressed concern last week regarding the matter saying that the students are scared and are in need of answers after hearing police were going to clear the building.

“These students are unsure as to whether they could return to their classrooms they have been studying in,” said MDP Education Committee Chair Dr Luthfee, who served as the minister of education during MDP’s administration.

Dr Luthfee also expressed concern at the situation of the private Mandhu College, which has seen an exodus of students following an eviction notice from the education ministry. The college has refuted claims it has breached the terms of its lease.

The Education Ministry has been met with firm criticism in recent weeks, with Teacher’s Association of Maldives (TAM) president Athif Abdul Hakeem alleging the ministry of intimidation and opposition accusing the ministry of interfering with higher education institutions.

Related to this story

Opposition concerned at “interference” with educational institutions

Mandhu College denies violating agreement as eviction looms

Mandhu College experiencing 40 percent dropout rate

TAM President accuses Education Ministry of intimidation


InterContinental Hotels Group and Maldives National University launch collaborative training academy

The Maldives National University (MNU) Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies (FHTS) in partnership with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) launched a collaborative training academy on May 29 to develop participating students’ skills and improve their employment prospects.

The IHG Academy is a collaborative program between the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma, an IHG hotel, and MNU, in association with the government of Maldives STEP program.

The 13 students participating in the first IHG Academy batch will complete six months of training before graduating on December 31, 2013. They will arrive at the Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort on June 11 to begin training.

“This is the first step of a long sustainable program,” Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma General Manager Chris Batterham told Minivan News today.

He explained the initial batch of hospitality students will gain experience in all the resort’s departments.

“The training program started in England in 2012, but now it has expanded worldwide, and we thought we should definitely start the program in the Maldives and partner with a local educational institute,” Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Training Manager Sander Smits told Minivan News.

“MNU has a lot of faculty departments, and although we’re starting with hospitality, our future ambition is to open the program to students from all departments,” Smits said.

“It will help young people gain knowledge and increase their chance of finding employment. This program trains and develops future talent as well as gives something back to the community,” he added.

“Each IHG Academy is uniquely tailored to continuously evolve around the needs of the local community and hotels,” said Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Human Resources Director Shahid Hussain.

Through this academy “FHTS students will undertake Certificate 3 courses in housekeeping, food and beverage, kitchen, and front office,” he continued.

“The second academy batch, which will begin in January 2014, will have the opportunity to not only receive a training certificate, but complete diplomas and degree levels as well,” Hussain added.


The only female participant in the program, Ana Naseem, is equally excited and nervous to begin her front office internship, she told Minivan News.

Naseem explained that her parents understand “this is a first step” and support her choice to pursue hospitality work, a “stable” career choice.

“Girls don’t go to resorts to work because their parents generally don’t understand what resort life is really like. They are not aware,” Naseem said.

“It is who you are and the choices you make, not the place you go to, which spoils you. You make your own decisions,” she added.

Tourism industry challenges

During the launch ceremony, FHTS lecturer Anil Adam both thanked the IHG for “this wonderful, socially responsible, and generous initiative” which addresses some of the serious challenges faced by the hospitality industry.

“I wish all the resorts would make a similar effort to follow the InterContinental Hotels Group in this regard, and needless to say few resorts are attempting to conduct [training] initiatives, but the numbers are appallingly low,” said Adam.

“The partnership with the IHG Academy would become truly fruitful if we would be able to exchange both talents and expertise in what we hope to be a mutually beneficial endeavor for both of our institutions,” he added.

Adam addressed some the the specific challenges faced by both the hospitality industry, as well as MNU’s FHTS which is trying to address these issues.

“As tourism contributes enormously to our GDP, we are in need of a trained workforce to remain competitive in this industry, which is an imperative of the incumbent government,” he noted.

“[Establishing] the FHTS was one such initiative by the then-government to develop competent employees to fill the vacancies in this industry.”

“Today one of the challenges that FHTS faces is the lack of resources needed to produce potential employees for the global brands that exist in the Maldivian tourism industry,” Adam continued.

“One of the biggest challenges the Maldives is facing today is the lack of knowledgeable persons to drive our economy to the next level,” he lamented.

“It is regrettable to note that when comparing our industry with that of the developed world, our tourism industry is still not knowledge driven.”

“The pivotal change needed to make the most of this industry is usable research into the industry itself. The vacuum of knowledge that exists is the true reason why we do not have a single local brand operating internationally,” he said.

“The Maldives National University cannot function alone to bring about the sustainable development to the tourism industry. It requires collaboration from the government of Maldives, industry stakeholders, and also international bodies,” Adam concluded.

Other training initiatives

The year-long Four Seasons Apprenticeship program was recognised as the Maldives’ first government accredited TVET certified apprenticeship scheme in 2010. Graduates are able to earn TVET, PADI divemaster, or Ministry of Transportation boat driving license certifications, the hospitality company claimed.

The Four Seasons Hotels group has graduated 288 students from their apprenticeship program in the Maldives over the last 12 years, with 47 youths completing the latest program in 2013.

Four Seasons has encouraged the government to promote technical and vocational training “much more aggressively”, while also expressing concern at declining female participation over the last decade in its apprenticeship program.


“Government will not evict MNU students by force”: Housing Minister Muiz

Housing Minister Mohamed Muiz has said the government does not wish to forcefully evict Maldives National University (MNU) students out of the old Jamaaluddeen building, which houses the university’s faculty of Sharia and Law (FSL), Faculty of Arts (FA) and Centre for Continuing Education (CCED).

The Housing Minister had earlier sent a notice to the university giving a seven day ultimatum for it to vacate the building, which it claimed was too old and no longer safe for use.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru, the minister said that following the notice Chancellor of the Maldives National University Dr Zahir Hussain met with President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and raised his concern over the decision.

In response, the minister claimed the President had given his word to the chancellor that the government would not make a decision that would leave the students of MNU “homeless”.

Muiz however said that it was the mandate of his ministry to advise on the safety of government buildings and propose recommendations to the government.

He further said that the seven day notice was given in accordance with his responsibilities and repeated his claim that the building’s weakened structure posed a threat to those occupying it.

The minister claimed that technical experts had carried out analysis of the structure and recommended that it be vacated as soon as possible to avoid any unpleasant consequences.

“We will not forcefully drag the students or any staff out of the building. We will not go there with a court warrant and force the people out. It is not what we intend to do,” he said.

He further added that even the attorney general had advised not to take any legal action on the matter, but stressed that if something bad happened due to the condition of the building, he would be forced to take legal action against the university.

Housing Minister Muiz was not responding to calls at time of press.

The Maldives National University and the government have been at loggerheads over the ownership of the old Jamaaluddeen School building.

During a press conference, Muiz said the government “will not be responsible for any damages incurred by students, lecturers or anyone who uses the building”.

“We have told them to vacate the building and remove their property as well,” he said at the time.

Minister Muiz claimed that the government intended to demolish the building as soon as possible after the MNU vacated it.

However, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Maldives National University Dr Fayyaz Ali Manik told Minivan News that they could not vacate the building as government had not provided an alternate facility, despite repeated requests.

“We have not been given any other building. They never mentioned it,” he said at the time.

He further said that if the university was forced to move out, it would bring all the programs currently running to a standstill.

The Maldives National University was initially formed in 1998 as the Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE). The institution was established to rationalise resources and assure the quality of all existing post-secondary government institutes.

In 2011 the MCHE went on to become the country’s first university, formed under the Maldives National University Act.

In November 2012, MNU announced that it would be launching the first PHD programs offered in country. The subjects offered include law and pedagogy. The university has also announced that it will also be launching programs on political science in 2013.