Malta ELT buoyant but challenges remain

Malta ELT buoyant but challenges remain

The English language teaching market in Malta has remained buoyant in the summer of 2023, but challenges remain to maintain numbers, according to the country’s language association.

Despite good revenue upticks, there was a marked drop in student weeks compared to 2019 and 2022 Q3 levels. Photo: Pexels

Malta’s ELT schools went through various periods of shutdown in 2020 and 2021

Between July and September 2023, 18,327 students arrived to study at one of 15 member schools of FELTOM, the association for English language schools in Malta, which recently released its 2023 Q3 report.

This is up by over 1,000 students on Q3 data from 2022, but more than 2,000 students shy of the 20,824 figure from the same period in 2019.

Despite the UK’s ban on ID cards spelling a possible exodus of ELT students to Malta and Ireland, the pandemic has hindered Malta’s ability to try and entice European students away from “Brexit” Britain to a logistically easier-to-reach EU member state.

Malta’s ELT schools went through various periods of shutdown in 2020 and 2021, and the country’s government even tried paying students €10 a night to stay and study in 2021.

Crucially, however, revenue is back up in 2023’s Q3 data, totalling €20.9m – 1% lower than Q3 2019, which was €21m, but higher than 2022’s figure in the same period of €19m.

Also encouraging is the revenue figures per student week – 2023’s Q3 saw €396.50 per week. Revenue per student week was €334.80 in 2022, making the 2023 figure 18.4% higher year-on-year.

In terms of actual student weeks, however, there was a marked drop compared to 2019 and 2022 Q3 levels.

In 2019’s summer period, there were 63,325 total student weeks; in 2022’s, there were 56,800; in 2023’s there was a low of 52,691 – a 7% decrease since 2019.

“Notwithstanding these challenges… Malta continues to maintain its status as a sought-after destination for English Language Teaching travellers,” said FELTOM’s CEO Caroline Tissot in response to the less positive figures in the report.

Also struggling to bounce back to pre-pandemic figures was other revenue generated by FELTOM member schools, aside from tuition and accommodation.

Since 2019, it has decreased from €2.7m to just €2m in 2023 Q3. Other revenue per student week in Q3 is also its lowest since before 2019, decreasing from €42.90 that year to just €38 in 2023.

Despite the issues with general spending, the summer’s core spending on tuition is its highest since before the pandemic, now totalling €9.2m. Tuition revenue per student week also increased by 27% on 2019 levels, with €188 being spent per week.

Accommodation was a similar situation, with revenue only just topping 2019 Q3 levels at €9m.

“Malta continues to maintain its status as a sought-after destination”

It is clear from the figures that summer pre-pandemic levels are not out of reach, and some areas are already over the line.

But more needs to be done to bring up general spending levels, as well as increase student numbers to over 20,000 in the summer once again, Tissot urged.

“FELTOM remains committed to the growth of the sector and will continue its efforts to navigate these challenges,” Tissot added.

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