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Each year, thousands of students flock to Malta to study, but why? What makes this little island nation so special? For a start there's the southern Mediterranean climate. Mix this with an English-speaking population, the crystal clear blue sea, affordable prices, and lots to see and do, and you're starting to get the idea.
Studying in Malta falls into two main categories: University and English schools. Malta has long been a Mecca for English-learners, with its great climate and low cost of living making it an attractive alternative to the UK, the Americas, and Oceania. More recently, the University of Malta has been attracting students from all over the world with its low costs and the fact that English is the language of instruction in all subjects.
Malta's English language instruction, small size, and relative ease of living make it an ideal place not only to study, but also to test yourself if you are considering a future in expatriate living. It's a safe place to come see what you're made of, and there are plenty of opportunities to launch into further travels from here.
All University of Malta courses are taught in English, and English is also spoken and understood by the population in general, being one of Malta's official languages. If you feel like tackling some Maltese, which is a variant of Arabic mixed with a lot of Italian, there are classes available at the university and elsewhere.
If you want to improve your English, choose from one of the approximately 40 English schools on the islands. ESL standards are very high in this country, so you won't find unqualified teachers here.
By far the cheapest and most popular student housing option is the self-catering apartment. Student apartments are generally flats shared by 5 or 6 students at a time, with both single and shared rooms available. "Self-catering" means that students buy and prepare their own food (food costs are relatively low in Malta).
Host Families, also known as 'Homestays,' are another popular option, and usually include half-board (breakfast and dinner). They're great for extra English speaking practice, or for those who simply prefer a home environment.
Some students, especially short-term study holiday ones opting for a bit of luxury, choose to stay in hotels while in Malta. Most of the island's top hotels are to be found in the town of St Julian's, owing to its status as Malta's unofficial capital of hospitality. Prices, of course, vary according to rating and location.
Number one on the list of popular student destinations in Malta is the town of St Julian's. Boasting the island's finest hotels and a cosmopolitan student population, it is Malta's centre for hospitality, nightlife, and entertainment, and it's also home to some of the island's finest English schools. St. Julian's is a coastal town, and a great base from which to explore the rest of the island, with students from around Malta making their way here to relax, unwind, and meet new people.
Just along the coast from St. Julian's, the popular town of Sliema also plays host to several language schools. Known for its shopping area and cafe culture, Sliema is a favourite with many visiting the island, and is another town from which the rest of the island is easily accessible.
The University of Malta's main campus is in Msida, and it has satellite campuses in Valletta and on the neighbouring island of Gozo. Msida is a more or less typical university area. Valletta is an incredible architectural and historical jewel, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gozo, with its quieter and more rural flavour, is a great place to relax, explore, and enjoy outdoor activities.
Most first-world residents can stay in Malta up to 90 days without a visa; this is ideal for language students seeking study holidays, but if you're coming for uni, you'll need to check with your local embassy for complete details. To start out, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website will have most of the information you'll need.
Paceville near St. Julian's is the main hangout place for nightlife and entertainment, but don't overlook Malta's natural and cultural beauty. There's lots of rocky coastline for swimming, socialising, and sunbathing, as well as ample opportunities for all kinds of outdoor sports such as diving, sailing, hiking, and rock climbing. The islands are also home to the world's oldest temples, the beautiful silent city of Mdina, and the 'European Capital of Culture 2018' city of Valletta. Malta is a veritable treasure trove of culture and history, and you can often find events going on at the historic Manoel Theatre and St. James Cavalier.
Whether you're young or old, an avid student or just looking to blend a little learning with your holiday, Malta is a fantastic place, full of the sights, sounds, and memories that have kept so many students coming back for more.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot in the way of scholarships for University of Malta students. Nevertheless, the very low overall costs of tuition still make study in Malta a steal compared to other places, especially if you are an EU citizen.
There are several programs available for English students. Germans can take advantage of the Bildungsurlaub scheme to ease their costs, and many students come to Malta through the EU's Erasmus program for both study and internships. Check out more Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships here!
Stephanie was born in the US to an immigrant family, and has travelled throughout Europe, New Zealand, and Australia to visit family, and to Mexico for volunteer work. She currently lives in Malta, where she works at Elanguest English Language School.
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