FIVE QUICK POINTS ABOUT MALTA
- Ideal choice for students who want to combine study with tourism and leisure
- Typical Mediterranean climate – sunny and warm
- Beautiful and diverse architecture stemming from historical influences, including medieval, baroque, and renaissance
- Very popular destination for English-language courses
- Relatively inexpensive cost of living
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY
Malta is an archipelago with three main islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comino), located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Only the three main islands are inhabited. Its total area is 316 square kilometres. The islands consist of mainly low, rocky, flat dissected plains with many coastal cliffs, numerous bays, and good harbours. Valetta is the capital.
Surrounded by water, Malta has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. Annual rainfall is low, and generally there’s lots of sunshine.
HISTORY AND POPULATION
Malta sits in a narrow channel between Southern Europe and North Africa, and also provides a demarcation point between Western Europe and the Middle East. Its location has meant that Malta has played a role in history since 5200BC. Due to its strategic location, Malta has been seized and controlled by many powers over the centuries, most recently the British (1814–1964). After World War II, Britain granted Malta self-rule, and in 1964 Malta gained its independence.
Malta’s population is around 405,200 with a median age of 39.5 years. Most people (roughly 94%) live in urban areas. The two official languages are Maltese and English; many Maltese also speak Italian.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
A rich pattern of traditions, beliefs, and practices run through Maltese society and culture. The culture has evolved over time from adapting and assimilating diverse influences including Semitic, Latin European, French, and the British colonial legacy. The Latin European heritage predominates due to its ongoing influence over eight centuries and the fact that Malta shares the religious beliefs, traditions, and ceremonies of its Sicilian and Italian neighbours.
The arts have always played a significant role in Maltese culture. Cultural events occur frequently. Theatre and music are extremely popular. Maltese food is traditionally Mediterranean, using fresh, seasonal, and locally available produce and seafood. Today, an eclectic mix of dishes drawn from other cuisines, especially those of Sicily and Southern Italy, infuses traditional Maltese cuisine.
Since the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transhipment point, a financial centre, and a tourist destination. With only sparse areas of fertile land, economic benefits from agriculture are limited. Tourism (service sector) provides the major financial boost to the economy. The internationally oriented banking sector has expanded rapidly in recent years. Malta is a full member of the EU. The currency is the Euro.
The Maltese have adapted the British system of administration, education, and legislation. Malta became a constitutional republic in 1974 and a member state of the European Union (EU) in 2004. The prime minister, who is the majority leader in the unicameral House of Representatives (Kamra tar-Rappre-entanti), heads the Maltese parliament. The central government controls most areas of government. There are, however, local councils (65) responsible for general upkeep of localities and administrative duties for the central government.
LIVING CONDITIONS AND COST OF LIVING
The cost of living in Malta is considerably lower than in many other European countries. The average cost of living per month is around €940 including accommodation €320, food €280, books/stationery €70, and other €270 (transport, entertainment, laundry, telephone). Naturally, the cost per individual will vary according to the type of accommodation and the student’s own personal budget. A range of accommodation ranging from staying with a family to renting/sharing a flat exists for international students.
There are three levels of education: primary, secondary, and tertiary (including higher and vocational training). The education system is based on the British system. In primary and secondary, students can go to state, private/religious schools, or international schools. More than half of Maltese students progress to higher education.
There is one public university, Malta University (MU), which was established some 400 years ago. It is recognised internationally, and has 11 faculties of learning. MU was also the initial key provider of vocational training. Currently there are over 800 international students at the university. As nearly all courses are taught in English, evidence of English-language proficiency may be required. MU is located in Valletta.
The private sector is made up of providers offering distance and lecture-based business programmes, IT programmes, and tourism-oriented programmes. These providers forge close relationships with Malta’s top companies and organisations which in turn recruit graduates who have received highly specialised training.
INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
Studying in Malta can be a wonderful combination of education and tourism, given Malta’s long history, convergence of different cultures and traditions, love of the arts, mild climatic conditions, central Mediterranean location, and generally less expensive living costs.
University course tuition fees range from €7,500–€24,000 per year depending on the level and type of course. Students should contact the university for accurate up-to-date information on fees. Further education (vocational training) fees are generally lower than higher education fees. MCAST fees for vocational training depend on the course level. Generally fees range from €4,000–€6,000 per year.
Prospective international students should check with the nearest Maltese embassy or consulate to determine if they need to obtain a visa to enter Malta. After entry and with proof of acceptance into a recognised institution/course of study plus other documents, students must apply for a uniform residence permit. EU regulations apply to students from EU countries wishing to study in Malta.