Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Secondary education and post secondary non tertiary education

Education provision in Malta is governed by Chapter 327 of the Laws of Malta (the Education Act) that asserts, among other things, that it is the duty of the State to provide for the secondary education of children of Maltese citizens who have completed their primary education.

In Malta, secondary education is the second cycle of compulsory education provision and is separate from primary education. As from school year 2014-2015 this secondary education cycle, which previously used to have a single five-year structure, is now made up of two separate phases:

  • Following the end of primary education students now proceed to Middle Schools for the first two-years of the secondary cycle (Grade 7 and Grade 8);
  • These are then followed by three years of Secondary Schools (Grades 9 to 11). The last year of Secondary School marks the end of compulsory education.
Compulsory Education Post-compulsory Education
Middle School Secondary School Higher Secondary
Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 1st Year 2nd Year
11 till 13 years 13 till 16 years 16+ years 16 till 18 years


The first three years of the secondary cycle (Grade 7 to Grade 9) correspond to ISCED Level 2 while the fourth year of the secondary cycle (Grade 10) marks the onset of ISCED Level 3.

Education provision in the first two years of the secondary cycle is of a general nature. However, when proceeding to Grade 9, students get to choose two subjects from a wide range of options. Since school year 2011-2012, these subjects included several vocational areas however, as from September 2019, these now also include Applied subjects. Thus, education provision in Grades 9 to 11 includes aspects of vocational and applied education if students opt for such subjects.

As from school year 2014/2015 state secondary education is provided in a co-educational setting.

In the secondary cycle, results of examinations held at the end of each school year are used for students to be grouped by academic ability for the core subjects of Maltese, English and Mathematics.

At the end of Grade 11 students may move on to post-secondary education. Post-secondary education refers to education in the 16-18+ years-of-age range and falls beyond compulsory school age.

Admission to post-secondary institutions is subject to specific entry requirements. Students can either follow an academic or a vocational educational pathway at this level. Daytime courses at post-secondary level are given mostly on a full-time basis. However, some school-based vocational courses are followed on a part-time/apprenticeship basis.

The general or vocational pathways available to students in post-compulsory education are as follow:

  1. General education is provided at:
  • The GEM 16+ school, where students who would have missed getting enough exam grades to enrol in a higher secondary school follow a one-year, second-chance course to achieve the required grades;
  • Two state higher secondary schools, one situated in Malta and the other on the sister island of Gozo;
  • The Junior College (which falls under the remit of the University of Malta);
  • A number of non-state Sixth Forms within both the Church and the Independent Schools sectors.
  1. On the other hand, vocational education and training programmes are provided at two state institutions:

Courses at VET institutions are provided on a full-time or part-time basis and are offered at Levels 2 to 5 on the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) (corresponding to Foundation, Certificate, National Diploma and Higher National Diploma levels) and also at tertiary level. The opportunity is also in place for students to follow evening courses thus being able to continue working whilst furthering their studies.

Students enrolled in post-compulsory courses do not pay tuition fees and are entitled to receive a maintenance grant to assist them in their studies. Students who have proven difficult family situation may qualify to receive a further supplementary grant. Sixth Forms run by religious orders organisations ask parents for a voluntary donation while Independent Schools charge tuition fees.

These courses are targeted mainly for 16 to 18-year-olds and older students. The courses within these entities range from academic courses in preparation for tertiary education to secretarial studies, to information technology studies and to management studies amongst others.