The number of foreign students who visited Malta to enrol in an English language course numbered 27,853 in 2021, representing a close to 70 per cent increase over the numbers seen the year prior, when the COVID-19 pandemic first ripped through all those sectors dependent on regular travel connections.
Last year, the sector was optimistic that it would be able to come close to, if not surpass, pre-pandemic figures, although the emergence of a new wave of the virus instead led to the sudden shutdown on the sector, an incident which led to international condemnation by stakeholders.
However, despite the low number of students, each student stayed for an average of 4.9 weeks, considerably longer than the average of 2.8 weeks in 2019, according to data released by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
This resulted in students spending a total of 137,108 weeks in Malta, as compared to 237,006 in 2019 – a drop of 42 per cent.
With an average of 13.4 weeks, students from China recorded the highest number of student weeks, followed by Colombian and South Korean students with average student weeks at 12.1 and 11.2, respectively. The number of tuition weeks in 2021 increased to 100,198 from 48,876 in 2020.
Staff numbers reflect the depth of the impact of the pandemic on the industry. Although around 1,030 teaching staff were employed in the sector in 2019, in 2021 this fell by more than half to just 475.
Of these, the largest proportion (31.6 per cent) were in the 55 and over age group. Female teachers accounted for 66.9 per cent of the total.
Non-teaching staff amounted to 384, of whom 71.4 per cent were employed on a full-time basis.
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Since its inception, the Family Business Office has been instrumental in highlighting the needs of family-run enterprises in Malta.
Seat Load Factor also stood strong during the period, with an increase of 6.8% when compared to 2019