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Factsheet for measure MT-2020-27/1438 – measures in Malta

English language schools try to adapt during COVID-19

Country Malta , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 July 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Company practices
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Luke Anthony Fiorini (University of Malta) and Eurofound
Measure added 16 November 2020 (updated 27 January 2021)

Background information

English language schools which generally cater for foreign students looking to learn English as a second language was a growing sector in Malta. With the onset of COVID-19, and the subsequent reduction in international travel, English language schools experienced mass cancellations. For example, one school, AM Language School, reported 8,000 cancellations in the space of 3 weeks in April 2020 alone.

Mass closures of English Language Schools were prevented by the COVID-19 Wage Supplement , whilst other Government measures such as the Electricity Bill Refund and Rent Refund may also have aided.

Furthermore, English Language Schools did what they could to remain afloat. This included offering online English courses and implementing health and safety procedures within their premises.

Content of measure

A few English Language Schools, such as BELS, were proactive and brought forwards plans to offer online English courses during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to this, all teaching was classroom-based. This resulted in an array of English language courses being offered for learners of different levels and interests (e.g., English for business). Such online courses remain ongoing.

Once Schools re-opened physically on 1 July 2020, a Federation of English Language Teaching Organisation Malta (FELTOM) survey highlighted that arrivals in the first week, were just 9% of the numbers seen in 2019. Numbers were expected to peak at 12.8% in August.

Schools introduced a range health and safety initiatives to protect staff and clients. EF, an English language school, ensures that staff and students wear face masks at all times, practice frequent good health hygiene, and observe social distancing. Incoming students are asked to present a certificate not older than 72 hours old warranting that they are COVID-19 negative, and if this is not brought, are asked to enter preventative quarantine and carry out the test privately. Staff and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been quarantined. Other measures include the availability of sanitisers, temperature and name checks, informational leaflets and posters, and frequent cleaning.

Use of measure

in 2019, 83,610 foreign students attended English Language courses at local licensed schools. In 2019, July was the busiest month, with 18,457 arrivals. Arrivals in July 2020 slumped to around 9% of these numbers.


  • Health and safety
  • Telework

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Particular professions
Sector specific set of companies
Youth (18-25)
Other groups of citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisation Malta (FELTOM), an employer's organisation, has been very proactive in publicly pushing for Government financial support for their sector. There does not appear to be specific social partner involvement in influencing the COVID-19-related working arrangements in the sector.

Views and reactions

FELTOM reacted positively to the COVID-19 Wage Supplement but highlighted that the sector requires further support. An October Deloitte report commissioned by FELTOM recommended that the wage supplement be sustained at a decreasing scale until business volume returns to 70% of what it had been before the COVID-19 pandemic. Progressive support was also recommended for organisations with more than 40% loss in arrivals.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      P - Education P85 Education
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Teaching professionals



Eurofound (2020), English language schools try to adapt during COVID-19, measure MT-2020-27/1438 (measures in Malta), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.