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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in higher education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.4National reforms in higher education

Last update: 28 February 2024
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Malta's Draft National Strategic Action Plan for Further and Higher Education 2022-2030

In December 2022, Malta’s Draft National Strategic Action Plan for Further and Higher Education 2022 – 2030 was launched for public consultation. This draft Strategic Action Plan recognises progress made in addressing EU and national targets in further and higher education, while emphasising the need for sustained efforts for continual improvement.
This draft Strategic Action Plan identifies key trends and drivers up to 2030 and their relevance to further and higher education, with a view to mapping and tackling emerging opportunities and threats. The policy implications and recommended actions highlight the need for closer policy synergies between Ministries and entities, in particular between education, research and innovation, and enterprise.

Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) launches B.A. (Hons) in Journalism

Malta College of Arts, Sciebce and Technology (MCAST) launched, for the first time, the B.A. (Hons) in Journalism. The course aims to train students in analysing and reporting events, providing the opportunity to gain experience and practical skills in journalism.  

Institute for Education - Sponsorship for Albanian Nationals

In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Institute for Education (IfE) and Preca College, Albania, IfE launched a sponsorship scheme through which it will be sponsoring up to two Albanian Nationals to follow its Master of Education programme during academic year 2022/2023. As a result of this sponsorship, IfE will be hosting its first international students (who are not from Malta or an EFA country) on the programme, who will be following the programme remotely and collaborating with peers online. 

The programme is blended and, thus, a system of hybrid lecturing will be used. While both Albanian and Maltese students will follow online lectures, Maltese students also have an in-person element, in which Albanian students will participate via video conferencing. Arrangements have also been made to allow for Albanian students to carry out the teaching practice component within course participants’ school in Albania, while this will be assessed onsite by IfE’s assessors.

Malta Further and Higher Education Authority applies to become full member of The European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Following the SEQA-ESG project, in June the MFHEA has submitted an application to become a full member of ENQA and shall undergo an external review against the Standards and guidelines for Quality Assurance in European Higher Education Area (ESG) coordinated by ENQA in 2023.

Amendments on the National Quality Assurance Framework

The Malta Further and Higher Education Aurhority (MFHEA) is currently in the process of updating the National Quality Assurance Framework, including Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) Standards to enhance its approach to quality assurance. In addition, the Authority is revising the External Quality Assurance Provider Audit Manual of procedures (Accreditation Manual) as part of the EQAVET project, which will further improve the EQA procedures and the overall quality of education provided in Malta. As part of the VET Team project, the MFHEA is also updating Implementation of Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (VET) Institutions (Manual for VET providers).

Malta's National Strategic Action Plan for Further and Higher Education 2030

The MFHEA, in consultation with stakeholders, is working on Malta’s National Strategic Action Plan for Further and Higher Education 2030, which revises the Vision and Guiding Principles for Further and Higher Education to ensure that students are ready for the future. The seven key themes for the implementation of the Vision focus on building a solid foundation for more unified government-wide policies and industry. This plan towards a dynamic and resilient knowledge ecosystem, based on a higher education sector and quality-driven innovation, inspires individuals, throughout their educational and life experience, to develop relevant skills. enabling them to contribute as community members and active citizens to a global digital and green economy.

Further and Higher Education Advisory Committee 

In accordance with article 18 of Chapter 607 of the Laws of Malta, the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority has established an Advisory Committee to engage in an enhanced dialogue with representatives of various stakeholders. The Advisory Committee is made up of representatives of private and public higher education institutions, representatives of private and public further education institutions, student representatives, civil society representatives, business community, and trade unions representatives, who represent the majority of employees in the further and higher education sector. The MFHEA plans to start involving students in the process of programme accreditation at MQF Level 5 and above.

New courses to be offered by the University of Malta as from October 2022

The UM approved and is receiving applications for a number of new courses at Master level offered by various Faculties, Institutes and Centres, as from October 2022, including: a Master of Arts in Baroque Studies offered by the International Institute for Baroque Studies; a Master of Arts in Disability Studies offered by the Faculty for Social Wellbeing; a Master of Arts in Digital Marketing Communication offered by the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences ; a Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering, offered by the Faculty for the Built Environment (by Research); a Master of Science in Data Science offered by the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology; and a Master of Science in Marketing, a Double Degree programme coordinated by the University of Malta and Libera Università Internazionale Degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (Luiss), Rome, Italy.

The Faculty of Education is accepting applications for a MA in Open and Networked Higher Education. This international study programme provides an open and networked learning experience that will develop and strengthen student’s knowledge of contemporary higher education (HE). The programme prioritises the academic commitments of learning, teaching and research, and will prompt students to critically consider these priority areas within the bigger picture of HE and society at large. Students will scrutinize the mediation of digital technologies and open education orientations in HE learning and teaching. They will be supported to trace inroads to the study and experience of e-quality, effective, affective and transformative teaching, learning and research; issues which are important in the struggle of coping with increasing student numbers, shrinking resources, pervasive digital technologies and unlimited access to information and resources.

The UM will also be offering a number of new Master programmes within the sphere of the Health Care. The Faculty of Dental Surgery will be offering a Master of Science in Digital Dentistry with specialisation in two areas: Dental Surgery and Dental Technology. The programmes teach the theoretical and scientific foundation of the field of digital dentistry, and students pursuing them will become skillful in clinical and laboratorial practice within the professional environment of the teaching clinics. On the other hand, the Faculty of Health Sciences will be offering a new, one-year, full-time Master programme in Midwifery, while the Department of Nursing within the same Faculty will be offering a number of Master of Science in Nursing programmes in different areas of specialisation, including: Cancer Care, Critical Care, Emergency Care, Infection Prevention and Control, Palliative Care and Skin and Wound Care. The same Faculty will also be offering a Master of Science programme in Patient Safety and Clinical Risk Management, a very topical area of study in view of the current pandemic. The programme has been designed by the Department of Health Systems Management and Leadership, keeping in mind the principal that effective implementation of patient safety and clinical risk management policies does not just require human, financial and other resources, but rather the commitment of individuals to be educated and trained to practice safely. 

Two Certificate courses will also be offered at undergraduate level. The Centre for Environmental Education and Research is accepting applications for the Certificate in Environmental Interpretation and Education. This one-year part-time evening course is targeted at aspiring nature guides, outdoor educators, environmental educators, environmental interpreters, rangers, and those working in nature parks and community settings.

In a bid to attract more students to follow its undergraduate programmes, the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology will be offering a Certificate in ICT Foundation Studies, a programme that delivers the necessary foundational material that brings students to the academic level required to follow such programmes.

Changes to Admission Refulations at the University of Malta

The University of Malta is currently in the process of implementing changes to its Admissions Regulations, which changes were approved by Senate in January 2022. These changes principally concern the admission of probationary students.

As from October 2022, applicants will continue to be admitted as regular students if they obtain the Matriculation Certificate and Special Course Requirements (if applicable) by the MATSEC Second Session of Examinations. On the other hand, applicants will be admitted as probationary students if they would have reached the age of 18 by the 31 December 2022; and if they are in possession of the required SEC passes in English, Maltese and Mathematics; have sat all six subjects required for the award of the Matriculation Certificate, and have attempted to improve their Matriculation Certificate by sitting for the required subject or subjects at the MATSEC Second Session of examinations of the year during which the course for which they apply commences. This enables students to start the course without necessarily missing out on an entire academic year of study.

Applicants will be accepted as probationary students if they:
•    Obtain a pass grade in one subject from each of the three obligatory subject groups and in Systems of Knowledge and obtained between 38 and 42 points in their Matriculation Certificate; or

•    Obtain not less than 44 grade points but lack a pass grade in one of the subject groups or in Systems of Knowledge required for the award of the Matriculation Certificate; or

•    lack not more than a grade (such as a D instead of a C, but not an F instead of a pass grade E) in a subject or subjects indicated as special course requirements (Advanced or Intermediate level) for the course applied for, as long as they obtained a pass in Systems of Knowledge and not less than 38 points in the Matriculation Certificate.

Probationary students are admitted under specific conditions. Students accepted as probationary students will not be allowed to repeat the year or be allowed an extension year. These provisions are not applicable to courses which are restricted to a limited number of applicants, if all places have been filled in by fully-qualified applicants; courses that are not governed by the UM’s General Regulations for Undergraduate Courses; and courses that may be accessed through a Certificate course at MQF Level 4 designed for the purpose of providing an alternative route to a higher level Undergraduate Course.

Implementation of changes to admission regulations at the Junior College

The admission requirements for the Junior College have been amended, with effect from the October 2022 intake. The old rules required admitted students to be in possession of a Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examination pass (grade 5 or better) in six subjects, including three core subjects: Maltese, English Language and Mathematics. The new entry requirements, demand at least one SEC pass in a core subject (Maltese, English Language and Mathematics). Admitted students who do not have a SEC pass in one or two of these core subjects are offered preparatory classes, which will enable them to satisfy the General Entry Requirements.

Changes to the Entry Requirements in connection with Maltese have also been affected. Maltese applicants having lived and studied abroad for a significant period during the four years prior to entry, and not having received adequate teaching in Maltese, may now present another language instead of Maltese. Non-Maltese applicants, who pursued at least four years of compulsory secondary level schooling in Malta, may present a SEC pass (grade 5 or better) in Il-Malti bħala Lingwa Barranija (Maltese as a Foreign Language) instead of Maltese. Non-Maltese applicants, who pursued less than four years of compulsory secondary level schooling in Malta, may present either a pass in Il-Malti bħala Lingwa Barranija (SEC) or in another language (either must be MQF3 at grade 5 or better, or comparable).

University of Malta graduate tracking exercise

The University of Malta has embarked on a project pertaining to the European survey of higher education graduates. This survey is a pilot survey of graduates in a choice of European countries, which aims to lay the ground for a sustainable European-wide graduate survey. The purpose of the EU Graduate Tracking Study includes the following:

•    Strengthening career guidance systems for prospective students, current students and graduates;

•    Supporting the design and updating of curricula to improve the acquisition of relevant skills for employability;

•    Improving skills matching to support competitiveness and innovation at local, regional and national level, and to resolve skills shortages;

•    Planning for and forecasting evolving employment, educational and social needs; and

•    Contributing to policy development at both national and EU levels.

University of Malta Professional Development Programme for Doctoral Researchers

Each academic year, from 2019, the UM’s Doctoral School offers a Professional Development Programme for Doctoral researchers. This programme seeks to assist doctoral students in developing a wide range of research, professional and transferable skills, which are deemed vital for their success. The Professional Development Programme has been designed to offer resources to help doctoral students succeed in their research degree. Each Academic Year, the Doctoral School seeks to propose new workshops on topics which may not have been explored before. In July 2022, the Professional Development Committee approved three new workshops: ‘Struggling with your Ph.D.’, ‘The purpose of your leadership in times of change’ and ‘Aligning your research to the Sustainable Development Goals’. These will be offered for the first time as from Academic Year 2022/23.

New courses launched at the University of Malta

The Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy introduced the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Public Sector Accounting at undergraduate level. The course covers a wide spectrum of the accounting functionality and provides a systematic process of ensuring that adequately trained public sector accounting staff are available to the Ministries and their respective Departments. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery launched the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Pharmacology. The course brings together the biological, biotechnological and digital aspects of pharmacology, and equips you with the required skills as recommended by both International Pharmacology associations and major European Universities, whilst keeping in focus the needs of the local and international industry. The Faculty of Theology introduced the Diploma in the Archival and Cultural Appreciation of Ecclesiastical Patrimony which takes its cue from an Introduction to the history of the Church in Malta which goes back to Apostolic times. Studying this tradition allows a deeper understanding on the formation of the national identity, which in many respects (culturally, socially, artistically) is intimately linked with the Catholic faith.

At a postgraduate level, the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences introduced the Master of Arts in Archives and Records Management which provides specialised training and the required national and international practical and theoretical skillset for archivists and records managers. The course promotes research in the field by integrating traditional and digital theories and practices. The Faculty also introduced the Master of Arts in Library and Information Sciences which is designed to provide specialised training and the required national and international practical and theoretical skills for librarians and information professionals. It provides course participants with an in-depth, advanced study of childhood studies from a transdisciplinary, children's voice perspective. The Faculty of Information and Communication Technology launched the Master of Science in Digital Health designed to expose the student to modern digital technologies that are becoming vital to improve personal wellbeing and to the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and management of illnesses. Designed to establish foundations in pharmacology and toxicology, and provide the skills to manage and apply this information in the clinical, regulatory and pharmaceutical setting.


Sponsorship agreement between Institute for Education and Malta Council for Science and Technology 

The Institute for Education and the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) agreed to co-sponsor a number of students interested in pursuing the MSc in STEM Education and Engagement which will be offered by the Institute for Education as from October 2021. This Master’s degree is a collaboration with MCST and Esplora. Lectures will be held online and at Esplora. 

Free internet access

The Ministry for Education offered free internet for one year to students who were in Year 11 in scholastic year 2019-2020 and continued with their studies in 2020-2021. A €300 voucher was sent to more than 3100 students to be exchanged at internet service providers for free internet. 

Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education 

The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) officially became the Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education (MAFHE) on 8th January 2021, legislated by the new Further and Higher Education Act which came into force on the 1st January 2021. Previously, the NCFHE was legislated for in the same legislation as that legislating for education provision. An Act dedicated solely to the MAFHE separates the regulator from the providers, giving the former more independence as a regulator. As an authority, the MAFHE is also independent from the Ministry for Education.

The MFHEA is an independent, transparent and international authority with the tagline ‘Quality Education for Confident Futures’ that focuses on: 
-    Providing accreditation to further and higher education institutions
-    Providing accreditation to programmes or courses of studies at further and higher education levels
-    Quality assurance of both educational institutions and programmes of courses 
-    Recognition of obtained national or international qualifications as well as prospective qualifications 
-    Validation of informal and non-formal learning 
-    Research and policy recommendation on issues related to further and higher education

Malta Qualification Framework Impact Assessment

In February 2021, the MFHEA published the MQF impact assessment report which identified areas for MQF policy developments. It proposes recommendations for implementing, promoting, and regulating the MQF and any further developments/changes on the MQF. These recommendations have guided the design of the workplan for the EQF-NCP project for 2021-2023. MFHEA is the National Coordination Point for the European Qualifications Framework (EQF NCP) and is responsible for the implementation of the EQF-NCP 2018-2020 project. The MQF impact assessment is one of the project’s main objectives, whose implementation, along with the recommendations for revisions of the MQF arising from such an impact assessment, will form the basis of a systematic MQF review mechanism.

2030 National Further and Higher Education Strategic Vision

The MFHEA developed the Strategic Vision for 2030 which contains the NCFHE recommendations for the national strategy for the coming years as well as the targets the country aims to reach on a national scale and in line with the European Union’s policies for education. The document identified the priority areas and the related objectives forming the direction for further and higher education strategy in Malta for the next decade. It follows up on the Further and Higher Education Strategy 2020 proposed in 2009 and aims at ensuring that the strategy responds to an ever-changing world. In 2021, the MFHEA has conducted a series of consultation exercises to further develop these priority areas and to develop a corresponding action plan. 

Development of the Malta Qualifications Database

In 2021, the MFHEA continued to update the National Qualifications Database which was launched in November 2020, so that includes details on all accredited programmes, information on licensed institutions as well as all the National Occupational Standards related to the Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning. The database is compatible with the Qualifications Dataset Register of the European Commission which allows study programmes in Malta to appear on the EUROPASS portal ensuring a more comprehensive database of qualifications in Europe. The database is expected to fully replace the existing register by June 2021. 

Quality Assurance development in Malta

The MFHEA is taking part in the ‘Supporting European QA Agencies in meeting the ESG’ (SEQA-ESG) project, which was launched in 2020. The main objective of the project is to support European QA agencies and national authorities to establish a quality assurance system in line with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), which is one of the Bologna Process key commitments. The MFHEA has developed the Malta National Action Plan that identifies priority areas and related objectives, which are in line with the Authority’s aim of developing and enhancing quality assurance in the Maltese higher education sector and includes the alignment of the agency’s core procedures with the European Standards and Guidelines.

Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology

MCAST launches its first Professional Research Doctorate

The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) offers a Professional Research Doctorate (DRes) at EQF/MQF Level 8, which is the first of its kind provided at the College. It is a research-based qualification and focuses on the competitive behaviour of small organisations within small island states. The research is expected to support industry making evidence-based decisions through data and information. The Malta Chamber of SMEs and the Richmond Foundation shall be collaborating in the research.

MCAST launches additional Masters Programme 

In 2021, MCAST launched an additional four new Masters programmes namely:
Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Sustainable Technology which is of high technical content and is designed to promote higher level thinking skills in various areas of engineering with a special focus on modern low carbon and renewable energy systems. Learners will acquire a broad range of skills in the major engineering disciplines allowing them to work in a senior technical or project management role within industry. The course will also provide graduates a foundation for further study or for a career in an engineering related field. Learners will receive advanced study in both the theoretical and the practical aspects of engineering that builds on previous knowledge and experience.

Master degree programme in Retail which focuses on the learning and practical application of concepts essential for operating a retail business. It develops an understanding of the contemporary retail environment and examine topical issues relating to retail management and marketing. This program assesses analytical skills essential for operating and marketing in an international retail environment. It critically examines international retail development and activity, with a view to putting this knowledge into practice. This programme is aimed at marketing strategists, brand managers, product innovators, retail professionals that have a number of years’ experience in the retail industry or aspire toward securing positions in innovative retail.

Master degree programme in Artificial intelligence for Industry 4.0 which presents the non-computer scientist/business leader with a fundamental and thorough understanding of AI technologies and applies this acquired knowledge toward the strategic deployment of business to bring about competitive advantage. It is aimed at business leaders, executives and professionals involved in strategic road-mapping roles who are responsible for determining direction and equip the organization with the cutting-edge advancements in AI. The design of the programme provides for a technological understanding of AI in the first year, followed up with the business and industry application of AI in the second year.

The MSc in Aerospace Engineering which aims to produce engineers highly skilled in the management, maintenance and conversion of aircraft. It will also provide graduates with the right profile to match recruitment criteria for agencies as well as public and private bodies in the aerospace sector.

Employee upskilling

MCAST is investing in its lecturing staff, who are in possession of a Graduate Teaching Certificate in Vocational Education and Training (GTC in VET) (Level 6), and are interested in furthering their studies by taking a Postgraduate Award in Vocational Education Applied Research 4.0 (Level 7). This award entails following the first theme (15 ECTS) of the PG Cert VEAR starting in October 2021.

IPS Student Scheme

The Institute for the Public Service (IPS) in collaboration with the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), launched the ‘IPS Student Scheme’ which provides students with a paid work-placement (in addition to the stipend). The scheme also includes mentoring. Initially the scheme will accept IPS Students reading for the BA (Honours) Procurement and Finance and the BA (Honours) Public Policy and Management. Upon satisfactory completion of their studies, and through the experience gained, participants will be offered with the opportunity to become full-time employees within the managerial stream of the Malta Public Service.

MCAST enters into Memoranda of Understanding with various entitites

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Foundation of Social Welfare Services signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the College’s premises in Paola on 30 January 2020. The purpose of this memorandum is to develop and strengthen the collaborative relationship to develop the improved wellbeing of young persons at high risk of social exclusion aged between 16 and 25. This Memorandum is intended to enable young people availing themselves of FSWS’ programmes, namely Opportunity Knocks, Embark for Life and the Adolescent Day Programme to access MCAST’s guidance, educational and professional programmes. Students referred by FSWS will join MCAST’s mainstream courses, while FSWS will support students’ learning by following-up and ensuring full compliance with MCAST procedures and requirements.

Governance for Inclusive Excellence (GIVE)

The Governance for Inclusive Excellence (GIVE) programme, carried out through a collaboration between MCAST and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, aims to increase participation in the VET sector. The Malta Chamber is informing MCAST of the VET needs of industry, bridging the gap between VET education providers and the business world. GIVE is part of a larger project, involving 12 entities across 4 EU Member States, aimed at designing and developing a European Platform of Centre of Excellence devoted to innovating the VET sector for the social inclusion of individuals belonging to disadvantaged groups. The project will be targeting disadvantaged groups, namely those with a migration background, disabilities, low skills and obsolete qualifications, a drop-out history, special learning needs or a difficult socio-economic background.