Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna, Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo, and Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia launched new financial incentives for further studies through Bank of Valletta and the Malta Development Bank.
Students who are seeking to undertake full-time, part-time, or distance learning study courses which would provide them with MQF 5, 6, 7 or 8 level qualification, or internationally recognised certificates, can apply for a loan up to a maximum of €100,000.
The BOV Studies Plus+ is a new financing solution aimed for further studies and is being offered on the market through the collaboration of Bank of Valletta and the Malta Development Bank. Furthermore, the programme is financed under the Operational Programme “Investing in human capital to create more opportunities and promote the wellbeing of society” which is co-funded by the European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020.
Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo said that this initiative is very important to further increase opportunities to people who wish to pursue their education. The ministry considered this as a top priority and this initiative, along with other financial incentives, are part of a wider push to increase accessibility in higher education.
Minister Bartolo also said that the European Union, in its next budget cycle should change the stability pack and the European Social Funds to treat education as an investment and not as a current expenditure which shall enable individuals to use funds to invest in their education and training.
Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna stated that since its set-up, the Malta Development Bank is achieving results. “During our last meeting, we were very satisfied to see a number of new projects including the BOV Studies Plus+”.
The government has been at the forefront towards supporting students in furthering their education: “Through various schemes, we have not only granted tax rebates that compensate a substantial part of the costs incurred, but there are also tax breaks of up to a maximum of two years to all those workers who have successfully completed a Masters or a PhD.
Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia said that this is the first EU-funded project being undertaken by the Malta Development Bank, guided by two principles: removing financial obstacles to social mobility, and addressing a gap in the private market. He said that students, particularly those who do not qualify for scholarships on an annual basis, will now have access to further support. “Acknowledging the need for different financial instruments, and providing them, is one step towards addressing social equality and challenges in education. Such an instrument will complement scholarships such as the EU-funded Endeavour scheme – not replace them – and will allow students to aim higher and succeed, particularly in the context of the upcoming EU budget negotiations. While many are pushing for financial instruments to substitute cash grants, our government is adamant that the two should complement one another,” Aaron Farrugia said, adding that this initiative will further contribute to our country’s prosperity.
BOV Chairman Deo Scerri remarked that “today we are launching what is most probably the best studies financing package on the island. This product, devised with the support and collaboration of the Malta Development Bank is aimed at students who are seeking favourable financing for pursuing their education further, from diploma level up to doctorate level”.
BOV Chief Credit Business Development Officer Albert Frendo explained that “the financing package comes with a maximum term of 15 years and benefits from a moratorium on capital and interest for a maximum of 5 years, during which the interest will be fully covered with an interest rate subsidy, with repayments coming from students’ future income. With zero interest payments during the moratorium and at an interest rate of just 0.5% over the bank’s base rate prevalent at the time, during the repayment period, it is currently the most attractive package of its kind in Malta”.
“The Malta Development Bank is once again collaborating with Bank of Valletta to support students and professionals in developing their potential through further and higher education”, said MDB Chairman Prof Josef Bonnici. Loans under this programme shall cover tuition fees, accommodation costs, subsistence expenses, and other expenses relating to furthering studies both in Malta and abroad.