Sources & Methods


Data related to education statistics is required by Regulation EC No. 452/2008 and implemented under Regulation EU No. 912/2013.  The topics covered include student enrolments, entrants, student mobility, graduates (education attainment), personnel and education expenditure.   Data on classes and foreign languages is also collected.

EUROSTAT has a data sharing agreement with UNESCO-UIS (UNESCO Institute for Statistics) and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).  The goal of the UNESCO-UIS/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) data collection on education statistics is to provide internationally comparable data on key aspects of formal education systems, specifically on the participation and completion of education programmes, the costs and type of resources dedicated to education.

Main users of Education statistics are Ministries, Government Departments, Private companies, Researchers, Students and the General Public; as well as other Units within NSO.

Methodological description of survey

Education statistics covers three economic sectors: state, church and private.  A census is carried out on an annual basis. An updated list of institutions (schools) is supplied from the Ministry for Education (MFED). List of accredited and licensed private institutions in supplied to NSO by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE). The main external sources of education statistics data are the Ministry for Education (MEDE), schools and educational institutions, and the Secretariat for Catholic Education. Internal sources, particularly for Education Expenditure data, are the Public Finance Unit, Prices Unit and Living Conditions and Culture Statistics Unit.​

Pre-primary to secondary levels

Data on Students attending state schools; on Teaching staff in state, church and private schools; as well as data on Non-teaching staff in state and church schools, is provided by MEDE. Data for Students attending church and independent schools, non-teaching staff and data on education expenditure are collected through electronic questionnaires sent directly to the concerned schools. 

Post-secondary and tertiary levels

Questionnaires are sent via email to state, church and private institutions delivering courses in Malta.  This data collection covers students enrolled, student mobility, graduates (students obtaining a qualification), personnel employed in educational institutions and data on educational expenditure.

Accuracy and reliability of data

The NSO has full coverage of all education institutions in the target population (schools delivering courses in Malta). Consistency checks are carried out with data provided from previous academic years and coherence tests are made with other auxiliary sources.

Every effort is made to minimise the incidence of non-sampling error such as unit non-response and item non-response, in which case imputations are performed. Nevertheless, since the questionnaire is filled in by the respondents independently, this may cause non-sampling error which can be reduced by adequate validations.

Education statistics are not normally subject to revision, however, when data is published prior to Eurostat validation, data is considered as provisional and therefore subject to revision. In cases where data is re-classified, data is revised accordingly. Whenever revisions are carried out, these are always adequately documented in the quality report that is annually sent to Eurostat and in the methodological sheet accompanying NSO news releases.​

Timeliness and punctuality of data

Data on Students, Staff, Foreign Languages, Classes and Entrants collection is launched in April t+1 and transmitted to Eurostat in September t+2. Credit Mobility and Expenditure data collection is launched in April t+1 and transmitted to Eurostat in November t+2, together with the Graduates data which is collected in December t+1 – March t+2. All data is submitted to Eurostat on time.

Every year, a quality report, together with the ISCED integrated mapping of national programmes and qualifications, is transmitted to the Commission (Eurostat) by 31 January in year t+3.  This report documents statistical presentation and processing, quality management, relevance, accuracy and reliability, timeliness and punctuality, accessibility and clarity, comparability and coherence, cost and burden, and confidentiality.  

The Unit is targeting an improvement in timeliness for the dissemination of Education statistics at a national level and on introducing new releases such as ‘Personnel in Education’.  These releases are published on the NSO’s website as scheduled in the News Release Calendar​.

Accessibility and clarity of data

The Unit publishes several releases on a yearly basis related to education statistics.  These are: ‘Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Formal Education’ release, ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’, ‘Students in Post-Secondary and Tertiary Education’, ‘Absenteeism in Mandatory Education’ and ‘Graduates’ releases. For clarity each news release contains very detailed methodological notes.

A publication on ‘Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Formal Education​’ was published in 2018. This publication span over five academic years 2012/2013 – 2016/2017 and portrays information on the formal education sector in Malta and Gozo. Past publications on education statistics are available on the NSO’s website, from academic year 2000/2001 up to academic year 2007/2008.

Each news release and publication are accessible from the NSO’s website. Eurostat data is accessible from the Eurostat Database.​ 

Coherence and comparability/consistency of data

Data related to education statistics is fully comparable with all other European Union Member States as all countries are bound by Regulation (EC) No. 452/2008 and implemented under Regulation (EU) No. 912/2013. The UOE Manual is followed by each country and any deviations from the Manual are clearly documented in the annual quality report.

ISCED 11 was used, as requested, for the first time for academic year 2012/2013. Previous data is classified in ISCED 97. Fields classification 2013 was used as from 2014/2015, previous data was classified in Fields classification 1999. ISCED 45 was revised and recoded into ISCED 35. This change has been applied as from academic year 2012/2013.

Data prior to academic year 2012/2013 has not been revised to include the reclassifications of upper secondary education, ISCED and Fields of Education, and is therefore not comparable to other data.  Conversely, all data collected from this academic year onwards are fully consistent and hence comparable.

Only formal courses that are delivered in Malta and with minimum duration of one year FT equivalent are included in the official statistics. Thus, the NCFHE National Publication might be incoherent with NSO education statistics since NCFHE includes also certain short courses, and all homegrown courses, some of which might not be delivered in Malta. Comparability issues may feature also in the MQF level vis-a-vis ISCED level.​


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