The University of Malta, whose main building is currently situated in the central town of Msida, is considered to be the highest educational institution in Malta. The institution itself is publicly funded and is open to all students with the required relevant qualifications, depending on which course or Faculty they wish to join.
Although the main campus is situated in Msida, there are two other campuses. The first one is to be found in the capital city of Valletta, housed in the Old University Building which used to host the original University as per its founding. The second campus is found in Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island. Apart from being a centre of learning, the University of Malta is also a centre of research, in that it conducts and provides facilities for a variety of fields of study. The University also has a very good rapport with a number of local institutions, like the Malta Chamber of Commerce, and the Employment and Training Corporation, with which it develops a number of fruitful projects and types of training.
Having currently fourteen faculties, as well as taking care of a number of interdisciplinary institutes and centres, the University also hosts its own School of Performing Arts, an International School for Foundation Studies, a University of the Third Age, while also administering a Junior College, also in Msida, for pre-tertiary students, and the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (known as MCAST) situated in Paola.
The University also plays host to a number of exchange students. Courses can be either full-time or part-time, attended in the morning, afternoon or evening.
Although at present, the University of Malta has approximately 12,000 students, including a number of students from more than 80 different countries, as well as thousands more students at pre-tertiary level, it was not always as vast or varied as it is today.
The University of Malta in its origin dates back to its founding as a Collegium Melitense in 1592, which was originally taught and administered by the Jesuit Order. Following the plague of 1675, and the obvious importance of fostering medical training on the island, the then Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Saint John further took the University in hand. In 1768, the Jesuit Order was expelled from Malta, and it was Grand Master Pinto who appropriated the University and its revenue, with the aim of establishing a Public General University. At this time, the University was situated in Valletta, and its first Rector was the preacher Father Roberto Costaguti. During the invasion of the French, the University closed briefly, however with their expulsion from Maltese shores, it was reinstated by Sir Alexander Ball. After this, the University became a fully-operational governmental body, whereby the Rector was appointed by government, instead of with Papal intervention.
Following the Second World War, the University library was further extended and a new medical school was opened in Gwardamangia near Saint Luke’s Hospital. In the 1960s – 70s, the main campus moved from Valletta to the site in Msida, which has an area of 194,000 square metres, and which today houses the majority of faculties, institutions and centres. The Gozo campus was set up in 1992.