The University of Malta is considering whether to waive tuition fees and provide a stipend for students who apply with a qualification in Maltese, in order to safeguard the future of the language.
Alfred Vella, the university's rector, told the Times of Malta that the language was under threat, and offering a financial incentive to learn it at university could help.
"What if we were to introduce a requirement saying that anyone who is eligible on all the criteria, including Maltese, would not pay fees and would get a stipend? Those who do not meet the requirement would be able to study but would pay fees and not get a stipend," he said.
"Is Maltese at risk? If not, then this measure would not be tolerated," he continued. "But if it is, then it would probably find favour with whoever is looking at what we are doing. I can provide numerous articles which suggest that it is."
The university is seeking legal advice on whether the move would discriminate against non-Maltese students, Professor Vella said. Overseas applicants who want to study medicine already have to learn medical Maltese, the paper reported.
Local and EU students at the University of Malta have to pay up to €2,400 (£2,178) a year in tuition fees for a science-based subject, and up to €1,800 for arts and business courses.
Professor Vella also told the newspaper that he wanted to increase student numbers by about 10 per cent by accepting a greater proportion of youngsters and educating more adults.