The University of Malta was founded in 1769 by Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca. Following the Suppression of the Jesuits in the Kingdom of Sicily (of which Malta was then a vassal), Pinto expelled and seized the assets of the Order including their Collegium Melitense (founded in 1592). The assets of the college were used in establishing the University.
With the arrival of Napoleon in 1798, the University was briefly abolished and transformed into a French École Polytechnique. It was re-established with the arrival of the British in 1800. In 1938, King George VI gave it the title of The Royal University of Malta. The word "Royal" was subsequently removed from the name of the University when Malta became a republic in 1974.
Admission to the university is based on Matriculation examination results (A levels). However, entry on basis of maturity and experience is granted for certain courses in the arts and sciences. The University is known to have strict grade requirements and entry into some courses is limited, for example The Faculty of Dental Surgery allows for a maximum of 6 European students per year chosen according to merit and only after the students have successfully passed an admissions interview.