Higher education in Malta, is it really a possibility for overseas students who traditionally view the country as a Mediterranean holiday island? Can one really attain an internationally-regarded degree over several years where other people spend two weeks in the sun? To most of us, this sounds like a dream come true. So far, Malta’s education system enjoys international popularity mainly among the thousands of language students from all over Europe that descend upon the archipelago every year. After all, brushing up your English skills near the sandy beaches of Ghadira Bay or the weekend parties in the aptly named Paradise Bay is far more tempting a prospect than cramming vocabulary in Bournemouth or Brighton.
The numerous language schools aside, the tiny island state has a national university with an impressive history. Founded as a Jesuit collegium in the 16th century and raised to full university status about two hundred years later, the University of Malta is actually the oldest Commonwealth university outside the United Kingdom. Up until the 1960s and 1970s, it used to be a fairly small institution catering to Malta’s social and academic élite.
However, in the past 40 or 50 years, the student population has exploded from a few hundred to over 11,000 today and 7-8% of Malta’s students come from overseas. About one third of them participate as visiting students in international exchanges, especially in the Erasmus programme that’s become a veritable cultural phenomenon for students across the European Union.
The other 600 overseas students at the University of Malta are enrolled in full degree courses, both on the undergraduate and the postgrad level. It certainly helps that the language of instruction is English in all subjects, even if interested students can take Maltese-language classes at the University of Malta Language School. The latter also offers intensive English courses for international students who’d like to bring their English proficiency up to scratch for their coursework.
Some of the international alumni – who move to Malta from other European countries, but also from the United States, China, India, and the Middle East – fall in love with their new home and try to stay after graduation. Their familiarity with the local economy and Maltese culture, perhaps even the Maltese language, may help them to find work and give them a certain edge over other self-made expats who have never stayed long in Malta before. So, if you are interested in studying abroad and in starting out your career overseas, acquiring your degree at the University of Malta could prove a wise start to expat life in a country that’s an ideal manageable size place to test out your expat capabilities.
For non-Maltese students from EU member states, the tuition fees are really affordable. For a three-year Bachelor of Arts, you will pay less than €300 a year, while a Bachelor of Science in the field of ICT is a little more expensive, at €1,100 per semester. However, the fees for overseas admissions are somewhat steeper. Students from non-EU countries have to fork over an annual €8,500 for a bachelor’s course and nearly 11,000 Euros for an M.A. programme. Unfortunately, there aren’t scholarships or bursaries available at all, and you also have to take the cost of living into account. Still, for well-to-do students, Malta’s considerable charms more than make up for the expenses (which are positively modest if you compare them to many UK universities, let alone higher education in the US).
And who knows? Perhaps they are going to stay put and make a home in Malta. Today’s student can easily become tomorrow’s expatriate.
Helpful Info for overseas students & expats in Malta
This article was provided by InterNations, an expatriates’ community for people living and working abroad as well as all ʺglobal mindsʺ. The organisation supports over 250 local expatriate communities around the world – including an active local branch here in Malta. Worldwide it brings together members of 180 nationalities, all expats working for international companies, political and non-governmental organizations or diplomatic missions. Its expat guide and the local forums offer helpful tips on places to see and things to know for expats. Every month in Malta, a top-class InterNations event takes place giving expatriates the chance to meet other expats in an exclusive and international environment.
If you’d like to join, visit internations.org to register for free. Local Malta Ambassadors Florentina and Alessandra will then get in touch.
Upcoming InterNations events in Malta are listed in the Malta Inside Out events diary and featured on our homepage from time to time. .