Student Francis Laing went to Malta in 1803 as Private Secretary to the Governor and was shortly afterwards appointed Secretary to the Government of the Island, a post which he held till 1814. Another student employed in the colonial administration of the island was student William Wellwood Moncreiff, who served as the King’s Advocate in the Admiralty Court of Malta until his death there in 1812.

Malta's tradition as a naval base continued under the British Empire as it was used for fleet headquarters, and so many of the students were linked to the military in one way or another. Physician to the Forces, William Irvine died at Malta of fever on 23 May 1811; and Henry Muir was stationed at Malta while serving in the Army Medical Service from 1813-24.

The first student born in Malta was William Cairo Lockhart, who matriculated in 1813. He was the son of a British Magistrate, and followed a military career in India. Malta became an important stop-off post en route to India with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Ministers to schoolmasters, medical officers to merchants made up the body of the subsequent students who attended the University until the twentieth century.

Malta’s status as a British colony as well as the fact that it was a military and naval fortress and the headquarters of the British Mediterranean fleet meant that the majority of students coming from Malta were from British military families. Only two such students enrolled before the First World War, while two enrolled during the war and a further four in the interwar period. The parents of these students would have been present in Malta between the 1880s and 1900s, a period of technical, cultural and financial progress for the country.

During the interwar period, when Malta again became a Crown Colony in 1933, the University started to receive Maltese rather than expatriate students who had received their education in Malta. Some of them did not return to their birth country: Millie May Josephine Peralta, for example, worked and lived in places as diverse as Scotland, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and England. Nevertheless, the majority of students in the interwar period continued to be sons and daughter of British expatriates with connections to the army, the navy or the air forces.

As a British colony during the Second World War, Malta was heavily bombed by Fascist Italy from 1940, which led to the destruction of many towns and cities and the loss of many lives. One Maltese student, Joseph Zahra had been living in an area severely damaged by the bombings prior to enrolling at the University in 1944. In the late 40s and 50s two more students who had probably been living in Malta during the war arrived in Glasgow. One of them, John Alfred Calascione was the son of a prominent businessman who during the War had risen to the rank of Major of The King's Own Malta Regiment.

After the Second World War, Malta achieved self-rule and embarked on a period of political change that ended in its development to an independent state in 1964. During this period of change, Sir Hector Hetherington, Principal of the University of Glasgow, served as chairman of a commission on the constitution of the University of Malta in 1957.