The academic year of upper secondary vocational institutions runs from the beginning of September till the first week in July. The academic year is sub-divided into three terms with the first term covering September to December, the second term running from January to the Easter holidays (in March or April) and the third term covering March/April to July. There is a two-week Christmas recess, a week in Easter-time and a summer recess covering July and August.
Teaching methods and materials
The curriculum for vocational upper secondary education varies depending on the specialisation area the student opts to follow. Students receive the appropriate theory together with practical skills both of a personal development nature as well as vocationally. This is usually done through Personal and Social Development lectures as well as through practical on-the-job training.
Teaching methodology in the two Maltese vocational institutions, namely the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), necessarily demands both teaching the theoretical aspect as well as providing hands-on practice. Intensive use of laboratories and workshops helps students understand and appreciate the practical relevance of the subject theory and its potential use in their future careers. Teacher-student communication is also facilitated in these settings since the number of students in a laboratory or working group is limited through regulations.
The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
MCAST is made up of six institutes in Malta and one centre in Gozo. These are:
• The MCAST Gozo Centre
In September 2014, MCAST began administering what was then the National Apprenticeship Scheme. That scheme has since been transformed in apprenticeship opportunities administered by MCAST with the aim of integrating work in different industries with studying at MCAST. The Apprenticeship Department within MCAST is working together with local industry in developing apprenticeship standards aimed to serve as benchmarks for the assessment of work-based learning and the development of training programmes mirroring the demands of industry. The college’s close ties with industry assist students in acquiring the necessary practical skills to complement the theoretical ones acquired in their studies.
Full-time courses are delivered from 08:00hrs to 16:30hrs within the respective Institutes, either on-campus or in one of the four satellite institutes. All MCAST courses are designed to cater for the needs of local industry and students get certified by the College according to the course being followed.
The Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) is the framework that supports the qualitative outline to the courses delivered at MCAST. Programmes on offer start at MQF Level 1 (Introductory Certificate) and go up to degree level at MQF Level 6 and Master’s level at MQF Level 7.
The one-year Level 1 curriculum is based on embedded learning to augment the school leavers’ chances to progress and to do well on the Level Foundation Certificate at Level 2 courses that are offered to students who are seeking to move on to the first qualification in a vocational area of their choice. In both Levels 1 and 2, the curriculum incorporates the key skills and competences as stipulated by the Malta Qualifications Framework’s level descriptors, as well as those of the vocational area chosen by individual students. Key skills modules include English, Maltese, Mathematics, Information Technology and Personal Development.
The Level 1 and Level 2 programmes provide an opportunity to school leavers in possession of the Secondary School Certificate and Profile (SSC&P) to follow a structured programme of studies in a vocational area which may be closer to their interests. Both programmes include a significant amount of vocational practice which is intended to help students to form a clear idea of the nature of the trade or vocation they intend to follow. Students are encouraged to build a portfolio of work and achieve the level of skills and competence necessary for them to progress to the next level on the qualifications framework.
The curriculum of the Level 3 courses leads to a Certificate or Diploma qualification at MQF Level 3. The diploma provides a range of theoretical and practical skills in line with established descriptors including those for the key skills subjects of English, Maltese, IT, Maths Communication and Personal Development Skills.
The Institute of Tourism Studies
Students at the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) have the option of following full-time and/or part-time courses. Students follow the timetable as set out by the Institute which could require them to attend morning, afternoon and/or evening sessions. They may also be required to attend sessions after normal hours, on public holidays and during weekends.
The curriculum offered at ITS includes technical/specialised modules and general academic modules. Courses at the ITS offer a broad introduction to all the sectors of the Tourism Industry - food preparation, food production and beverage service; front office and housekeeping, tourism marketing and e-business, sport tourism and active leisure, hospitality events management travel agents and tour guiding. This is further consolidated with a variety of subjects related to management concepts (Human Resources Management, Food and Beverage Management, Information Systems, Media and Communications, Finance, Marketing, Heritage and Culture).
Students take up exposure in local industry through the Local Industrial Trade Practice and also through International Internship, which is included in the students’ programme of study. The International Internship placement is an obligatory part of most of the Diploma/Higher National Diploma courses. English is the main language of tuition.
ITS is in an academic affiliation with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM), which is renowned internationally for its academic strength in the field of Hospitality Management and ranked one of the top ten institutions in the world in the mentioned field.