01 - Malta - Historical overview

Non-university Tertiary Education

Non-university tertiary education is a fairly recent development. The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) was set up in August 2000 by a Deed of Foundation primarily with the objective of creating a clear and coherent vocational education and training framework, offering clear progression routes from basic vocational training up to degree level. Since its establishment MCAST has sought to consolidate its educational provision as well as expand its portfolio of programmes in order to be able to expand into higher level education without the duplication of provision or wasteful competition. MCAST provides a credible alternative route to the university education without the duplication of provision or wasteful competition. MCAST started to provide Level courses in 2004 and is currently aiming to offer degree programmes in 2007.

University Tertiary Education

University tertiary education in Malta is provided by one university, the University of Malta. The University of Malta traces its origins to the founding of the Collegium Melitense in 1592 which was run by Jesuits. It was constituted by the Faculties of Theology, Medicine and Surgery, and Law. (Zammit Mangion, 1992).

In 1578, Pope Gregory XIII empowered the Jesuits to confer the degrees of Magister Philosophiae and Doctor Divinitas.

The University of Malta was ‘dormant’ twice: by the French in 1798-1800 period, when it became an ‘ecole centrale' with separate schools for Medicine and Surgery and Theological studies, and by the Government of Malta in the 1980-87 period when it was substituted by a new university (at first called the ‘New University' and subsequently ‘The University of Malta'). (Zammit Mangion, 1992).

The University was re-founded twice: the first time in 1800 after the French left and was revived by a Maltese Provisional government; the second time in 1988 when a new government did away with the University reforms of 1978-80. During this latter period, tertiary education adopted the student-worker scheme whereby employers sponsored students. Courses alternated between 6 months study and 6 months work. The policy of having a numerus clausus for entry into University was adopted and admission to the University was available for students who obtained a sponsorship to support their university studies.

In 1964, the University moved most of its services out of the old 1592 premises in Valletta to a new campus at Tal-Qroqq, Msida. Since then, new faculties and interdisciplinary centres and institutes have been added and new areas of studies introduced.

Before the 1988 Education Act, tertiary education in the state sector in Malta fell under the Commission for the Development of Higher Education established by the 1974 Education Act, and which replaced an earlier Royal University of Malta Commission first created in 1958. The 1988 Education Act abolished this Commission (Zammit Mangion, 1992). The new amendments (Act XIII) of 2006 to the Education established the National Commission for Higher Education which has to function to mediate between the government and the University and other institutions of further and higher education.

The University has grown rapidly with an increase in the number of courses offered, diverse, new areas of studies offered to students, and a steadily growing student population. Following Malta's entry into the European Union, the University of Malta is undertaking a harmonisation process to bring its courses fully in line with the Bologna Declaration.


University of Malta
University of Malta Msida MSD 06 Malta
Tel.:++356 2340 2828
Fax:++356 21 336450
E-mail: intoff@um.edu.mt
Website:  http://www.um.edu.mt


Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)
Main Campus Corradino Hill Paola, PLA 08 Malta
Tel.:++35621 801 590
Fax:+356 21801596
Website:  http://www.mcast.edu.mt

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Date: 2009
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