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The National Commission of Higher Education states that their mission is to promote more and better further and higher education to empower all students with knowledge and skills for their future". The NCHE held its first report back in 2004 where the Minister for Education, Hon. Louis Galea, appointed a Working Group to review State funding for Higher Education in Malta. The working group consisted of Mr. Roderick Chalmers (Chairman) and Ms. Anne Marie Thake and Mr. Jacques Sciberras as members. It included a number of tactics and recommendations in order to develop and enhance Higher Education in Malta. One of the main aims the NCHE is aware of is that the ability of communicating with the Government through the Minister responsible of Education by evaluating strategies and analysis held in sixth form and tertiary institutions in Malta, this helps our education develop and firmly compete internationally. When we're talking about further education in Malta we're referring to Junior College, Mcast, and St Martin's and so on while higher education represents the University of Malta. One can access NCHE through their website https://www.nche.gov.mt/ where one can find all the necessary information regarding further and higher education. Viewers can also contact their offices by sending them either an email or by calling them and one is also given the opportunity to sign up with this site in order to receive recent updates.
Malta's educational system is structured in four stages: pre-primary (ages 3-5), primary (ages 5-11), secondary (ages 11-18) and tertiary. Pre-primary education is optional but fully funded by the state. Approximately 94 per cent of three- and four-year-olds attend kindergarten. Everyone between the ages of 5 and 16 is entitled to free and compulsory education in all state schools. It is also important to point out that such education is also offered through another two different providers which are the church and the private sector, the only difference is that they are not free of charge but one must either pay in a form of a donation or a normal payment respectively. On completion of Form 5, marking the end of compulsory secondary education, students may sit for the Secondary Education Certificate Examination (SEC). Candidates obtaining the required grades may choose to continue into the further academic route or enter into the labour market, including applying for positions within the Maltese public service. Vocational education may take the form of apprenticeships, (which are part-time studies and part-time training on-the-job); as well as studies at different vocational institutions in Malta, such as the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) or the Malta Centre for Restoration. The post-secondary academic route, known as Sixth Form, lasts for two years. Upon completion students may take the Matriculation to progress to higher education. Under the Education Act of 1988, the Government of Malta is obligated to provide free university education to eligible residents with sufficient qualifications for entry having two a level subjects and three intermediaries depending on what course a student is applying to.
The National Commission of Higher Education (NCHE) was found in the year 2006 in order to communicate with the government through the minister of education to engage in a structured dialogue between all the institutions. Also to inform the public regarding sustainable development of such institutions to satisfy and meet the societies needs. The government collect public expenditure to support students during their studies through stipends, scholarships and grants. In 2009 public expenditure amounted 105 million euro's which amounts to an increase of 17.5 million (23%) over the total budget for 2008. Hence this shows that more students are deciding to continue their studies in the further and higher education since such statistics included both institutions instead of entering the labour force market. Both further and higher education increased by the same percentage of 25% from 2008 to 2009 showing equilibrium on different age groups. The participation rate in further education was at 60% in 2009 an increase by 1 percent from 2008. There was no significant shift along the years only minor changes since the average between the year 1999 and 2009 was 62%. The growth of the total student population in the further and higher education sector increased by well over 50% over the last decade between ten years. In addition research and innovation made impeccable forward steps in this field. The University of Malta is currently participating in 7 FP7 projects amounting to around 920 million in funding. Meanwhile adults participating in lifelong learning are slow to reach the benchmark of 12.5% by 2010 and 15% by 2020 since only 6.2% of adults in Malta were participating in 2008. Malta has more outgoing students than it has coming, in 2009 one hundred and fifty nine students were granted a scholarship through the Malta Government Scholarship Schemes (MGSS). An additional one hundred and eighty scholarships were awarded a scholarship through the STEPS scheme. Such schemes help students to contribute their studies in foreign countries and gaining access in new areas of study. On international bases one must mention the Bologna Process which refers to all the European countries including Malta to create a European Higher Education Area in which students cans choose from a wide variety of high levelled courses and benefit from smooth recognition procedures. The EU apart from sponsoring the Bologna process is reforming modernisation of Europe's universities gathering all the faculties to reach success and growth. The Bologna process also enhances staff and student mobility so that students in Malta knowing other languages can look for new opportunities in other European countries.
One of the main functions the NCHE is responsible of is that of forming various and certain strategies so that our education develops to a higher level. Such recommendations are passed to the Government to take according actions and plan for a better further and higher education in Malta. One of the first strategies introduced was on the 19th January 2009 where the Minister of Education announced the launch of consultation meetings with key stakeholders. This would be beneficial because tactics can be discussed and goals can be taken in consideration. Certain meetings would include material such as aiming to strike a balance between learning and research, improving reliability and transparency, attract more foreign student to come and study in Malta, discuss students' incentives and mobility, among other essential aspects that influence students'. Meanwhile a consultation seminar for key stake holders was organised on the 24th February 2009 where staff, students and heads of entities attended to discuss and point out conclusions regarding the whole process. Through a presentation held by the NCHE, stakeholders and other individuals commented and share different point of views on different aspects of the strategy. The first aspect tackled was that to improve the participation rate of students' by turning institutions in Malta into a brighter and friendlier environment where students are given the opportunity to express themselves more efficiently. On the 3rd of April 2009, NCHE launched its first strategy document entitled 'Further and Higher Education Strategy 2020'. This included the future role of the NCHE as a Quality Assurance agency which continues its research and provides information on the sector, showing the progress towards goals set and reviews of funding requirements. Also they mentioned four strategic objectives which are to transform Malta into a centre of excellence in education and research, promise fair accessibility to all students willing to co develop their studies, sustain public responsibility to secure an inclusive, high quality and responsive education outcomes and finally attract more young students and adults to further and higher education.
The NCHE is a commission that provides the public essential information regarding further and higher education. On its website it has listed all the publications published through the year including all the necessary information such as statistics, strategies, recommendations, analysis and so on. The NCHE keeps a structured dialogue between all the institutions hence further and higher education while supporting all stakeholders with all the information mentioned earlier. When compared with other countries Malta can be described as competitive since the participation rate is increasing constantly and a wide variety of courses are being offered and taken into consideration. Another aspect which encourages students to continue their study here in Malta and not in other countries such as the Britain is because that it is free of charge, instead students are given stipends and scholarships to encourage and lead them to a brighter future. Although this students going abroad to study is more than that coming to Malta therefore in my opinion it is ideal that the NCHE take promotion to a higher level by advertising Malta more and more globally. This might result students collaborating with foreigners and together form a new educational system.