Terms & Conditions

PFI's General Terms and Conditions for Students

The Pastoral Formation Institute (hereunder referred to as PFI or the Institute), is an established Institute within the Archdiocese of Malta and licensed by MFHEA (Licence Number: 2013-FHI-028). The Institute offers various programmes (hereunder referred to also as course) in order to fulfil its mission of forming Christians for today’s world and ministry.

1. Enrolment

1.1 PFI commits itself to publish all information before the commencement of the course, such as but not limited to course description, lecture dates, venue, mode of assessment etc. Nevertheless, the Institute reserves the right to make the necessary changes to make up for matters that may arise which are beyond its control.

1.2 Unless otherwise stated, individuals are to apply online for a course or event. Due payments are to be effected via the online system within the application form. In case of prospective students who encounter difficulties in this process, they may contact the PFI’s office for assistance or for an alternative method of applications or/and payment.

1.3 At application phase, the individual is to choose whether he/she will be undertaking the course at attendance, participation, or achievement level (for further information see section 9).

1.4 An application will only be considered if all data is filled correctly, all requirements for the course are fulfilled and payment has been successfully processed. Nevertheless, data might be gathered and processed even if the application is not considered completed for enrolment purposes.

1.5 Candidates are expected to have basic IT knowledge (in order to be able to access the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment – Moodle), open note files, compose word processing documents, and access emails) be fluent in English and in the language in which the course will be delivered. Unless written permission is given, all written assessments are to be submitted in English via the VLE.

1.6 The Institute may request an interview with the applicant before enrolling the individual for a course. During the interview, academic competencies, language, motivations, openness to formation and attitude is evaluated. The interview is conducted by at least two persons on behalf of the Institute.

1.7 A confirmation email stating acceptance, or otherwise, to the course applied for will be set within 5 days from the submission of the application.

1.8 The Institute reserves the right not to open a course due to lack of students or other unforeseen circumstances. In such cases, students will be notified by not later than 5 days before the due starting date of the course.

1.9 Should the maximum number of students permissible for the course be reached, the Institute reserves the right to put applications on a waiting list. The respective prospective students will be informed on their application status.

1.10 Not later than 5 days before the commencement of the course, the students will receive a welcome email, which will include further information relative to the course or programme for which they have applied, together with their VLE credentials.

1.11 Late applications will only be accepted at the discretion of the Institute and will bear a 20% extra fee to cover administrative expenses due to late applications.

1.12 Refund is not issued if cancelation by student happens later than 10 days before the commencement of the programme, unless the course gets cancelled by the Institute due to lack of applicants or in cases of cancelations due to changes mentioned in point 1.1 (Point 11 on Termination of the programme refers). In case of students cancelling, except for the mentioned exceptions, 20% of the fees and charges is not refunded, in order to cover administrative fees.

1.13 No refund is payable if a student fails to check the course content and pre-requisites to ensure it is in line with his/her expectations, and that s/he has the necessary language and IT skills to follow the formation programme.

1.14 A student whose enrolment in a course is not accepted will be fully refunded.

2. Communication with Students

2.1 The institute’s primary communication channel are emails and VLE. It is the student’s responsibility to regularly check their email and VLE in orderr to keep themselves up-to-date. The Institute does not take any responsibility if closing dates are missed and will not grant extensions nor make exceptions on the grounds of students not checking their mailbox or VLE.

2.2 Students are to communicate with the Institute via official email and/or VLE. They may also opt to communicate via a phone call to the PFI’s official numbers (25906514/516 / 79201358). PFI will take no responsibility on communications done with its Staff or lecturers if such communications are done on their private communications channel.

2.3 All results will be issued on the VLE and where applicable, soft copy certificates will be sent via email.

2.4 The institute will close the VLE account not before 30 calendar days from the completion of the programme and/or issuing of the results or at the termination of the programme (see point 11 on Termination of the programme).
2.5 Occasionally, the Institute may also use phone calls, SMS’s, WhatsApp system or physical mail to communicate with students.

3. Student Card

3.1 Students accepted for courses of 5 ECTS and over will receive a PFI’s student card.

3.2 At the discretion of the Institute and in agreement with third parties, the card will enable students to benefit from discounts from selected stores. Such discount is determined by the store and may be terminated at any time during the course.

3.3 Through the student card, students enrolled in particular courses will benefit from a subscription at The Seminary library.

3.4 The student card is also used for attendance and as an identification tag which lecturers may request to be worn during lectures and/or events related to the programme.


4. Mode of Course delivery

4.1 Courses are delivered in various modes, primarily:

4.1.1 Asynchronies Learning mode: Learning that occurs when the lecturer/s and students are not communicating and engaging in real time.

4.1.2 Synchronous Learning mode: Learning which occurs in real time through the use of web-conferencing tools, mainly Zoom.

4.1.3 Physical presence mode: Learning which occurs face-to-face and in person. Lecturer/s and students are both present in an allocated time and place where a formation session, usually in form of a lecture, is delivered. For valid reasons, students may be given an exemption (in writing) to follow courses conducted in this method, synchronously. Such exemption is at the discretion of the Institute and may be granted for parts of the programme or for its entirely. Such exemption is also always given in writing and will be evaluated on a case-by-case bases. Such option is also subject to the equipment available in the lecture room and since the programme is not designed for such a mode, the Institute will not be held responsible for the quality of the connection.

4.1.4 Hybrid Learning mode: Students are given the option to choose whether to follow the course in synchronous or physical presence mode.

4.1.5 Limited Hybrid Learning mode: Students are given the option to follow part of a programme offered in physical presence mode, synchronously. The percentage of session followed synchronously should not be greater then 20% of the sessions in order for the Institute to record the student as present for the session. In such cases, the student is to inform the Institute at least 4 office hours before the commencement of the session to ensure that the required equipment is in place.

4.1.6 Blended Learning mode: Learning which occurs when students engage at in part through a VLE, where online delivery on content is available and delivered, and in part attend in-person contact hours of formation. These physical lectures are delivered and attended for away from the students` home. The ratio between online and face-to-face learning is decided by the Institute on the basis of the related pedagogical principles and the course`s requirements.

4.2 Students are not allowed, on their own initiative, to (a) audio and/or video record lectures, (b) hold online ‘conference’ through mobile phones (or other devices) during lectures, (c) organise online meetings (through Zoom or otherwise). An exception to the above may apply as per clause above.

5. Attendance

5.1 The institute keeps records of the attendance of the individual to lectures and other events related to the programme to which the individual has enrolled.

5.2 Attendance may be taken in various ways, including electronically through the student card. Thus, students are expected to have their card with them for face-to-face lectures.

5.3 Unless otherwise stated in writing, students must attend at least 80% of the face-to-face lectures, and watch any video or do any other task assigned to them in order to be able to complete the programme.

5.4 If the student arrives more than 15 minutes late, for attendance purposes, the student may be considered as absent.

5.5 In case of an online session the students are to write their name and surname in the chat for attendance purposes. Punctuality is a must and students logging more than 15 minutes late will be marked as absent. Also, no one is permitted to leave the online session earlier than the stipulated time.

6. Online Sessions Procedures

6.1 The microphone should be always kept on Mute while the lecturer is speaking and shall only be switched ON when permission is given by the lecturer for any questions and comments. This will ensure that there are no disruptions and no background noises during the lecture;

6.2 The chat facility should be used only for relevant comments pertaining to the lecture, which is being followed, and the text should always be respectful;

6.3 No photos or recording of lectures is allowed. Only the PFI has the authority to record lectures and share them as deemed necessary;

6.4 All students must be punctual and login to the laptop or computer at least 5 minutes before the start of the lecture;

6.5 Any technical difficulties must be dealt with prior to the start of the lecture;

6.6 All students must pay attention and follow the lecture in respect of what is being delivered;

6.7 Students are not to interrupt when someone else is speaking;

6.8 If a student cannot attend an online lecture a notice through email must be sent to [email protected].

7. Assessment

7.1 The Institute uses various modes of assessment according to the criteria and level which is being assessed, primarily:

7.1.1 multiple-choice examination

7.1.2 written assignment

7.1.3 reflective journal

7.1.4 class presentation In cases of class presentations, at the discretion of the Institute, the session may be recorded, or a second examiner may be present.

7.1.5 oral examination In cases of oral examination, at the discretion of the Institute, the session may be recorded, or a second examiner may be present.

7.1.6 practicum supervision
7.1.7 practicum report
7.1.8 project based assessment

7.2 The Institute does it’s best to issue the marks within a reasonable time.

7.2.1 All marks are issued on the student account in the Institute’s VLE

7.2.2 The student has 15 calendar days from the date of issuing the results to appeal the mark.

7.3 The mode of assessment is stipulated within the course description.

7.4 Where applicable, assessments are to be submitted digitally and in word format on time.

7.5 An extension may be granted at the discretion of the Director of PFI after hearing the opinion of the competent board.

7.6 All written assignments are to be referenced following The Chicago Manual of Style.

7.7 Marks are assigned on pre-set criteria, which vary according to the course. For further information the student may contact PFI’s office.

7.8 No form of plagiarism is acceptable. All sources, being other individuals’, one’s own work already presented and/or published, classical texts, manuals, etc., are to be referenced.

7.8.1 The Institute may use different methods to check for plagiarism, including plagiarism detection software.

7.9 Disciplinary action will be taken against any student who is caught plagiarising. A disciplinary board composed of the Director, the Secretary to the Board, another Board member, a member nominated by the Director as expert on the subject and the examiner. An extra member, appointed by the Director may be added to the board.

7.9.1 Disciplinary action can vary according to the case, from resubmitting of the assessment or being expelled from the course to expulsion from the Institute.

7.9.2 The disciplinary board’s decision will be handed to the student by the Secretary to the Board and is considered as final.

7.9.3 The student will have the right to present his/her case to the PFI Board.

7.9.4 No refund will be given if a student is expelled from the course due to plagiarism.

7.9.5 Notwithstanding any disciplinary action taken by the institute, the student may still be subject to legal action which the victim of plagiarism may take in state courts.

7.10 In case of an unsatisfactory mark, the student may request a revision of the assessment result or the option, where possible, undertake again the assessment.

7.10.1 In cases of revision of paper, the Institute will engage a second examiner to give a mark and comments on the assessment in question.

7.10.2 Both options mentioned in point 7.10 may incur an administration charge stipulated by the Institute. In case of a change for a higher mark after a revision of paper, the charge will be refunded.

8. Completion of programme and certification

8.1 A student is considered to have completed a programme if s/he satisfies all the requirements, primarily attendance, and any assessment if applicable.

8.2 At the end of course, or on a designated date, a certificate will be issued for those who have successfully completed a programme.

8.3 Certificates are issued electronically or as a hard copy according to the course.

8.3.1 In case of electronic certificates, the individual may request the Secretary to the Board of the Institute to issue a hard copy within a month of issuing of the electronic certificate.

8.3.2 Certificates sent via email will be issued up to 8 weeks after successfully completing the course, whilst Graduation certificates will be given out on the next graduation/conferment of certificate ceremony of the course.

8.4 All hard copy certificates are to be collected by the individual personally during the conferment of certificate’s ceremony or from the PFI’s office during office opening hours.

8.5 In cases where the individual does not wish to or cannot personally collect the certificate, he/she may delegate someone else to do so. In this case, the person being delegated must be in possession of a document / formal communication acknowledging such delegation. In case of minors, certificates and/or transcripts may be collected by their parents, legal guardians or legally appointed curators.

8.6 Any individual collecting a certificate from the PFI’s office must provide proper identification documents to confirm his/her identity.

8.7 The Institute reserves the right to destroy any hard copy certificates which would not be collected within 6 months from their issuing.

8.8 The Institute is not responsible to re-issue any certificates/transcripts even if they have been destroyed as per clause 8.7.

8.9 In cases where the Institute re-issues a certificate of transcript, an administrative fee might apply.

9. Types of certificates

9.1 The Institute offers certification at three levels,

9.1.1 Certificate of Attendance

A Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to students who meet the attendance criteria below:
– attended and followed at least 80% of all contact hours for all sessions or per module
– watched all the recorded material (where applicable)

9.1.2 Certificate of Participation

A Certificate of Participation will be awarded to students who meet the required attendance criteria and show that they have understood what was being taught by completing and passing a short multiple-choice online examination regarding the content of the sessions.

9.1.3 Certificate of Achievement

A Certificate of Achievement will be awarded to students who meet the required attendance criteria and complete the assessments that show that they have understood what was being taught and can apply such taught content in various scenarios.

9.2 An individual may opt to change the level of certification if s/he decides to do so during the course of the programme, subject to fulfilling all requisites for that particular level, even if assessment dates have already passed.

9.2.1 In cases where a student has failed to achieve the applicable level, s/he may apply to receive a lower-level certification if the criteria for that lower level are satisfied. This does not apply if such achievement has not been granted due to disciplinary actions.

10 Code of conduct and disciplinary action

10.1 The Institute expects a high level of conduct by all its members, being it Board members, staff, coordinators, lecturers, or students.

10.2 Any form of harassment, discriminatory comments, bullying, intimidation, excessive disruptions, plagiarism, breach of any policy of the Institute, criminal conviction, dressing inappropriately (see dress code policy), misuse of the electronic devices during the course, misuse of the Institute’s name, misuse of the Institute’s student card, false declarations, falsification of documents, deceit, use of inappropriate language and/or behaviour, regular late comings are not permissible during any activity or at any location of the Institute.

10.3 In cases where a student feels s/he is a victims of actions stipulated in point 10.2, s/he is to report to the Secretary to the Board or/and the Director of the Institute. Should the alleged perpetrator be the Director, the student is to make a report with the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Malta, and procedures are taken as per Archdiocese policies.

10.4 In case where the accused is an employee of the Institute, action is taken as per Archdiocese policies.

10.5 In cases where the accused is a lecturer or student, the Director and/or the Secretary is to collect all relevant information and convene a Board of Discipline made up of the Director, the Secretary to the board, at least another board member, and two other members appointed by the Director.

10.6 Each case will be considered on its own merits. The accused will have the right to defend oneself in front of the Board of Discipline.

10.7 The Board may ask the accuser and/or victim not to remain anonymous but to confront the accused or the disciplinary case may be withdrawn.

10.7.1 The board will not disclose the information of the accuser without his/her permission.

10.7.2 In cases where the accused is a member of clergy or employee of the Archdiocese, the case will also be reported to the competent ecclesial authority for further action if they deem appropriate so.

10.8 Disciplinary action stipulated by the board is to be considered final and may vary from a letter or reprimand (warning) to dismissal from the course or expulsion from the Institute. The disciplinary action my include the retraction of any certification given to student by the Institute, including previously completed programmes.

10.8.1 The disciplinary board’s decision will be handed to the student by the Secretary of the Board and is considered as final.

10.8.2 On discovery of new information, the director may reconvene the board to rediscuss the case.

10.8.3 No refund will be given if a student is dismissed from a programme of expelled from institute due to disciplinary action.

10.8.4 Notwithstanding any disciplinary action taken by the institute, the accused may still be subject to legal actions which the victim may take in state courts.

10.9 Appeals to the decision of the disciplinary board may be done with the Vicar General of the Archdiocese or Malta.

11. Termination of programme

11.1 The student may decide to terminate the programme for any reason at any given time. To do so, the student is to formally inform the Institute in writing of his/her intentions. In such cases, no refund of any fee is made.

11.2 The Institute may decide to terminate the programme for a student as a result of disciplinary action, lack of attendance or lack of submitting of assessment in due time unless an extension in writing is given. In such cases, no refund of any fee is made.

11.3 Should the programme be terminated by the Institute for any reason beyond the institute’s control, a full refund of the course fee will be granted.

12. Protection of Personal Data

12.1 The data collected by the Institute under these terms and conditions is property of the Archdiocese of Malta which consists of different units and entities. By giving any information under these terms and conditions to the Archdiocese of Malta or any of its entities or units, the data subject is consenting that such data can be shared with other entities or units of the Archdiocese in order to fulfil the purpose for which it was collected and is processed according to the purpose, conditions and consent the data subject gave on time of collection.

12.2 The Institute collects and processes personal data for purposes indicated in its policies, including but not limited to:
· To communicate with the individual
· To keep alumni, current and prospective students informed about formation opportunities and other initiatives taken by the Institute or which the Institute deems opportune for the individual to be aware of
· For enrolment into a course or programme, or applying to attend an event or participate in any initiative organised by, in collaboration or supported by PFI
· To fulfil legal obligation imposed by NSO and MFHEA or any other legal obligation
. To keep the individual informed of the Institute’s initiatives

12.3 Data shall not be disclosed to third parties unless it is necessary to conduct its ministry, seeking advice, or has entrusted the party to perform a service on its behalf or unless specific consent is given.

12.4 In order to better perform its mission, by providing personal data to the Institute, the individual is giving consent to the Archdiocese’s to add and retain to the already collected information, any other personal information which will enable the Archdiocese to better fulfil the pastoral ministry which the individual is receiving or has requested.

12.5 By providing personal data to the Institute the individual is authorising it to share personal information with other Archdiocesan units or entities should this sharing enable any unit or entity (both giver and receiver) to better and easier perform any task or mission such unit or entity is responsible for or the data subject has requested; or is pastorally or administratively expected to perform.

12.6 The individual giving information is always assuming responsibility to give correct information, and to notify the Institute or any entity in possession of such data should such information change.

12.7 Without prejudice to other ecclesial and civil legislation, any individual has the right to request access to his/her personal data, to portability of the data, to object to the processing of data, to restrict processing, to request erasure of data or withdraw his or her consent to any collection, and to use or disclosure of his or her personal data. The individual may request the correction of any error or omission in relation to his/her personal data. All requests must be made in person and in writing. Further information can be found in the Institute’s policies.

12.8 Any individual who objects, withdraws consent, restricts processing or requests erasure of data will not affect the legality of the processing based on the consent prior to its withdrawal nor he/she will be exempted from any legal obligations in which he/she entered at the time when consent was granted.

12.9 In this regard, any questions regarding this document, as well as any requests for the exercise of data subject rights, should be directed to the Institute’s administrative staff. In case of disagreement with the Institute on matters of Data Protection, you may contact the Archdiocese DPO. If after contacting the DPO, the individual feels his/her rights have been breached, he/she has the right to lodge a complaint with the Supervisory Authority.

13. Further information

For further information regarding any point in these terms and conditions, you can refer to the Institute’s policies found on the site: https://pfi.edu.mt/policies/. When agreeing with these terms and conditions, one is also agreeing with the policies in which these terms and conditions have their origin.

14. Changes to Terms and Conditions

The Institute may from time to time review these terms and conditions and amend them to reflect changes in legislation and/or other operational exigencies. The Institute is not responsible for notifying the subjects with such changes but uploads these changes on https://pfi.edu.mt/tc. It is the subjects’ duty to regularly check for such updates.

LAST UPDATED: 29.08.2023