The Malta government is set for a major renovation of a smart card system that is used to process student grants.
The student smart card was originally intended to help with costs for educational materials but over time students have been able to purchase any consumer products, including sportswear, footwear and eyewear.
According to the University of Malta, the smart card is available only to students that receive a stipend and is intended to partially cover expenses related to educational materials and equipment.
At present, students enrolled in diploma courses receive a sum of €465.87 per academic year. General degree students receive a one-time grant of €465.87, as well as a sum of €465.87 each academic year, while prescribed degree course students receive a one-time grant of €698.81, in addition to a sum of €698.81 each academic year.
Maintenance of the smart card system has cost the country some €2 million to date – a sum that covers only the handling fee that the government pays APCO Ltd, the private company that organizes the smart card system. This sum excludes salaries and costs related to human resources deployed by the government at the University of Malta and other departments to run the system.
A report from MaltaToday suggests that the government now wants a simpler system under which maintenance grants will not be affected. Officials believe that a new approach could save the government a minimum of €178,000 per year in servicing costs.