21 AUGUST 2002
While the tourist industry may be suffering from a comparative slump, there was nothing wrong with the number of English language students coming to Malta last year.
Figures released by he National Statistics Office yesterday show an increase of 26.9 per cent for 2001, a jump representing an increase of 11,165 students over the previous year.
While a recent article in this newspaper had remarked upon the fact that many hotels were managing to fill their rooms by offering students special packages, these numbers confirm that this market is quite vibrant.
During the year 2001, 52,680 foreign students participated in one of the English language courses organised by the 32 English language schools then in operation.
Figures released yesterday show that as in previous years, the highest number of students came from Germany. These students made up 28.6 per cent of all students, followed by Italians with 15.2 per cent. French and Austrian students accounted for 11.6 and 10.1 per cent respectively. Increases in foreign English language students were recorded from most countries, mainly from Russia, France, Austria, and Italy.
European students made up 94.5 per cent of all foreign English language students, with 72.4 per cent coming from EU countries, a decrease of 7.3 per cent over the previous year. Students from other European countries accounted for 22.1 per cent, with a 5.7 per cent increase. Asia represented 2.6 per cent, Africa 1.5 per cent, America and Oceania both with 0.1 per cent each. Apart from Europe, all the other continents registered a slight increase over the year 2000.
Foreign students accounted for 4.5 per cent of the total number of tourists visiting Malta during 2001. This may not sound like very much, but for some countries the percentage i of students over corresponding tourists is quite high. Slovak students accounted for 24.2 per cent of all tourists coming from Slovakia, Russian students made up 20.0 per cent and Austrian students accounted for 19.2 per cent of tourists from Austria.
While the highest percentage of tourists, namely 45.4 per cent, visited Malta in the shoulder months, most students studying the English language arrived during the summer season. Students arriving in July, August and September accounted for 58.0 per cent of all students while 31.9 per cent of students came to Malta during the shoulder months, namely March, April, May, June and October. Only 10.1 per cent of students attended English language courses during the winter season.
In 2001, females accounted for 56.3 per cent of all students. Only a few countries recorded a higher male participation with Libya having 85.1 per cent of its student component being male.
Students are classified under five age groups. As in previous years the 16-20 age group has the highest number of students, namely 16,290 or 30.9 per cent. In 2001 the lowest number falls under the 26-30 age group with 13.9 per cent or 7,339 students.
The English language institutions had a teaching staff component of 1,348 persons, an increase of 196 persons or 17.0 per cent over the previous year. Most of these employees, namely 1,284, were engaged on a part-time basis. Full-time teaching staff made up only 4.7 per cent of the labour complement within this sector. Women accounted for 72.3 per cent of the teaching staff employed by the English language schools.