Increase in foreign students expected this year

A stronger performance during the shoulder months the main reason for a successful 2014 for English Language schools.

Photo: Ray Attard
Photo: Ray Attard

This year should see an increase in the arrivals of foreign students when compared to 2013, a spokesperson for the language schools said.

Sunday newspaper Illum reports that although summer looks set to be on a par with previous years, 2014 has already been a better year with shoulder months registering a stronger performance over the preceding year.

A spokesperson for the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta (FELTOM) said Malta has also succeeded in making new inroads in new emerging markets.

“Eastern Europe and Russia are increasing in market share and so are the number of people coming to Malta from South America, the Middle East and Asia. Together with MTA, FELTOM has embarked on a marketing campaign targeting these regions and the interest has been encouraging,” the spokesperson said.

She also added that in this regard, improvements in VISA procedures and an outreach programme for Temporary Residence Permits were also instrumental. Last year Russia surpassed Germany as the second strongest market, second only after Italy.

In 2013, 75,000 foreign students arrived in Malta for an induction course in the English language, marking an 8% decrease over 2012. One in every four students arrived in July, while December remained the quietest month.

“Malta's bilingualism remains a unique selling point for full-immersion study however competitiveness remains a challenge for the industry,” the FELTOM spokesperson said, adding that the UK remains Malta’s main competitor in the industry.

“Malta is positioning itself in a number of niche sectors including the mature segment and the English for Specific Purposes. Hence, Malta can continue to consolidate itself as an international centre of repute, making the ELT sector an important pillar of Malta's economy.”

Asked about fatal incidents involving foreign students in recent years, she said the federation is cooperating with the authorities throughout the year to ensure that Malta maintains its reputation as a safe destination.

Read more in today’s issue of Illum