The Republic of Malta, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Eurozone, is a small, European island nation located in the Mediterranean. It has a population of just under half a million. It is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world. Its capital Valetta is the smallest European capital.
Throughout it’s history, Malta’s location amidst historical trade routes has given it considerable naval and strategic significance. As I will argue in this article, Malta’s educational system, based on the British model, its use of English as an official language, and the relative scarcity of tertiary education supply make this Mediterranean island a strategic location as a potential market for universities seeking to recruit international students.
The Maltese Educational System
Education in Malta is based on the British model. Instruction is conducted in both of Malta’s official languages: English and Maltese (a variant of Arabic with many loan words from Italian and Sicilian). Both the state and the Church provide education free of charge. The state pays a portion of teacher salaries in the Church schools. Furthermore there are private and international schools.
After primary school lasting six years, students typically attend secondary school lasting until the age of sixteen, and take O-level examinations. After this students may attend a sixth-form college serving as a University preparatory curriculum and culminating in the Matriculation and Secondary Education Certificate (MATSEC) examinations which are the Maltese replacement for British A-levels. Students may then attend university.
In its effort to support education, the Maltese government offers Student Maintenance Grants to students attending sixth from colleges, vocational colleges and university.
A Carpe Diem Moment for English speaking Universities?
A key aspect of Malta’s attractiveness as a market for international university recruiters lies in the relative scarcity of supply of university education providers in the island.
Presently the University of Malta with approximately 11000 students and a handful of other institutions strive to cover the tertiary education needs of the island. The University of Malta possesses a school of Engineering, School of Health Sciences, Pharmacy, Humanities. It offers undergraduate degrees and a limited offer of post-graduate degrees.
Increasingly one notes a tendency for the University of Malta to establish partnerships with other institutions of higher learning. These synergies have resulted in joint Masters degrees in different fields.
Many Maltese students, seek the broader study opportunities, internationalism and access to advanced research facilities offered by a larger university. Given that English is one of Malta’s official languages, Maltese students can pursue university studies in English speaking countries..
Studying in a foreign country broadens the spectrum of possible study and research experiences for the Maltese and offers the possibility of enhancing their employability. Because their educational system is based on the British model, they are qualified to pursue university undergraduate or post-graduate studies in the United Kingdom but also in other Universities in the continent.
SRT was the first university fair organizer on the island and is happy to continue the collaboration with the international schools in Malta. Our next fair there will be on Friday 7 October at Verdala International School.