The accreditation of educational entities providing accredited or recognised further and/or higher courses is a legal requirement as per Subsidiary Legislation (SL) 607.03 ‘Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations’. Courses are referred to as ‘accredited’ when they have been assessed by the MFHEA and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework. All education institutions interested in offering programmes of studies which are accredited and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) need to submit their prospective programmes to the MFHEA for accreditation. The application form for Programme accreditation can be downloaded from the following link: Programme-Accreditation-Application-Form-V5.1docx (live.com). New entities, together with the submission of the application for programme accreditation, must also submit an application for Provider Accreditation.
The process of programme accreditation consists of initial vetting which is the first step of the process. Once the initial vetting is complete, one or more evaluators, depending on the type of programme, will be identified. The potential external evaluator/s that are asked to review the programme must have a qualification at an MQF Level higher than the programme. In cases where the external evaluator has a qualification at the same MQF Level, the evaluator must have a number of years of experience in the relevant subject. Once the selected evaluator/s submit/s the evaluation report, the provider will be given a deadline by when to submit the updated application form in accordance to the recommendations highlighted within the evaluation report. This process can carry on for a maximum of three cycles until the programme fails or passes accreditation. This process also applies for the re-accreditation of already accredited programmes.
Irrespective of the MQF Level, whether a programme leads to an award or a qualification is determined by the ECTS/ECVET weighting of the programme. The credit system is a central tool of the Bologna Process. This is a process in which the total hours of learning undertaken by a student translates into credits that are internationally recognised and transferable. In Malta, 1 credit is equivalent to 25 hours of total learning, 5 hours of which must be direct contact teaching hours. Thus, for a programme to be accredited and pegged to the Malta Qualifications Framework, it is important to remember that the duration of the course must be of a minimum of 25 hours of total learning. This is sub-divided into four sections:
(i) Contact Hours – tuition hours (these should amount to at least 20% of total learning hours, i.e. 5 hours per 1 ECTS);
(ii) Self-Study Hours – non-supervised learning hours;
(iii) Hands-On Hours – this refers to supervised learning;
(iv) Assessment Hours – this includes the number of hours spent working on an assignment as well as/or the hours the students spend during examinations.
The Referencing Report (2016) provides guidelines to the criteria used by the MFHEA to determine the appropriateness of the application.
When designing your course on your programme application, your programme developer should ensure that the course’s learning outcomes are in line with MQF Level descriptors found in the Referencing Report (pages 77–79).
For further information with regards to the programme application, please refer to the referencing report (2016).
A copy of the application form, together with the required documentation, is to be sent to email@example.com.
The current fee structure can be downloaded from the following link: Administrative Fee Structure for Accreditation and Licensing of Providers and Programmes – Malta Further & Higher Education Authority (mfhea.mt).
A Flowchart showing the process for Programme Accreditation.
The process of Programme Accreditation from the filing of the application to the conclusion of the process should take approximately 6 to 12 months depending on the quality of submission and the complexity of the application. If at any point in the application process, no feedback, requested documents, amendments or clarifications are provided by the providers for a period of three months, then the application will be considered null and void, and the applicant will need to re-submit a new application.
Flowchart B: The process of Programme Accreditation
(1) Application for Programme Accreditation is received.
Application for Programme Accreditation is received at MFHEA.
(2) Acknowledgement is sent.
Acknowledgement is sent within approx. 5 to 10 working days.
(3) Administrative Vetting of the Application.
If the application does not include all the information required for the necessary invoices to be issued, the applicant will be requested to adjust and/or correct the application.
(4) Issuing of Invoice/s.
Once it is confirmed that the application is filled in as requested, an invoice will be issued and sent to the provider within approx. two working weeks.
(5) Proof of Payment.
Proof of Payment needs to be submitted to MFHEA.
(6) Confirmation of Payment.
Once payment is confirmed from the Corporate Unit within MFHEA, the Licensing and Accreditation Unit will start the accreditation process. An official receipt will be sent by MFHEA within a month
If at any point in the application process, no feedback, requested documents, amendments or clarifications are provided by the providers for a period of three months, then the application will be considered null and void, and the applicant will need to re-submit a new application.
(7) Initial Vetting.
The initial vetting of the programme application is carried out by an MFHEA Officer. Feedback will be sent to the applicant. In case of an Award, the applicant will have two weeks to revise the application while in case of a Qualification, the applicant will have a four-week deadline.
(8) The process of engaging an external evaluator/s.
An MFHEA Officer will start the process of engaging an external evaluator/s.
(9) The first evaluation cycle is initiated.
Once the Initial Vetting is concluded and the evaluator/s appointed, the first evaluation cycle is initiated. During this cycle, the external evaluator reviews the application and creates a report. In the case where two or more evaluators are engaged, a consolidated report is drafted.
(10 A) First Evaluation Report.
(A) If in the first evaluation cycle, the content of the programme has been deemed satisfactory by the evaluator/s, the programme will be approved for accreditation. The applicant will be provided with a detailed report.
(10 B) First Evaluation Report.
(B) If the external evaluator/s recommends / recommend accreditation of the programme on condition that the non-technical errors identified are corrected, the applicant will be requested to review and revise the programme application form accordingly. The amendments required will be indicated in the evaluation report sent to the applicant by MFHEA. Applicants will have two weeks to revise the application in case of an Award and four weeks in case of a Qualification.
- In case of step 10B, this process can be repeated up to a maximum of three cycles.
(10 C) First Evaluation Report.
(C) If the external evaluator/s requests / request amendments to technical content of the programme, the applicant is to review and amend the application accordingly. The amendments required will be indicated in the evaluation report which is sent to the applicant by MFHEA. Applicants will have two weeks to revise the application in case of an Award and four weeks in case of a Qualification.
- In case of step 10C, this process can be repeated up to a maximum of three cycles.
(10 D) First Evaluation Report.
(D) If the external evaluator/s does / do not recommend accreditation of the course, the programme will fail accreditation. The evaluation report will be sent to the applicant by MFHEA, indicating the reason behind the failing of the programme accreditation.
(11) The applicant is informed of the outcome of the evaluation process.
If the programme passes accreditation the provider will be informed that the programme is officially accredited upon the receipt of the updated licensing conditions endorsed by MFHEA. The applicant will be requested to provide a template certificate.
(In the case that a programme fails accreditation during the two remaining cycles, the process will be concluded, and the applicant will be informed accordingly.)
(12) The Malta Qualifications Database is updated.
The details of the accredited programme will be uploaded on the Malta Qualifications Database.