The academic year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in July. The actual start and finish dates will vary in the different universities but each semester lasts around 20 weeks and is made up of a teaching period lasting around 14 weeks and an exam period lasting around 6 weeks.
Teaching and learning
Most teaching still takes place in large lecture halls but this will depend very much on the single course of study. Students are also expected to carry out a considerable amount of self study outside the classroom in order to prepare for exams.
Exams are held after the teaching period and are mainly oral exams although some courses will have written tests taking place during the semester or before the oral exam. Each exam will have a number of dates offered during the exam period and students can choose which date they wish to take the exam. They are also entitled to turn down a mark and take the exam again if they are not satisfied with the result. Rules apply as to how often a student can take an exam within an examination period.
Examinations are graded according to a scale ranging from 0 to 30, with 18 as a pass mark.
A "cum laude" may be added to the highest grade (30; 30 e lode) as a mention of special distinction.
All examination results are used to calculate the overall degree mark on a scale of 0 110. The final result is based on exam results plus the presentation of a project or dissertation in front of a Board of Examiners. The pass mark is 66 and students who obtain full marks of 110 may also be awarded summa cum laude (110 e lode).
Universities and other Higher Education Institutes establish their own fees but in the case of university education there is a legal minimum fee for enrolment and maximum level for student contributions to costs and services, which cannot exceed 20% of state funding.
Fees and Costs
The average fees a student has to pay is somewhere between 850 euro and 1,000 euro per year since this varies from one university to another and also depends on the chosen course of study. Private universities are clearly much more expensive.
Admission to master universitari and other specialisation courses also have much higher fees. Doctoral students who receive a grant from the university do not pay fees, but non- grant holders are required to pay the fees, which will vary again according to the university chosen.
Scholarships and financial aid
All international students are entitled to the same student assistance services as Italian students, on basis of the same requisites of financial means and/or merit. This applies to scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, refectory meal tickets and fee waivers.
These services are managed by the DSU office (Diritto allo studio universitario).
Alongside scholarship and financial aid information, DSU offices will also provide other services such as counselling and information on extra curricular activities, sport, transport and other practical matters.
You should contact the office at the university where you plan to study to find out what services are available to you.
Many European students studying at Italian universities on exchange agreements are doing so under the European Community Socrates Erasmus programme.
In all universities there will be a European Office or European Officer dedicated to the management of this programme.
Other exchange students from outside Europe are able to attend through bilateral agreements between their university and the host institution in Italy and are generally handled in the same way as European exchange students.
Full-time students seeking their degree at an Italian university have different needs and will be managed separately by other offices.
The most easily accessible way to learn Italian is certainly via distance learning. For this reason the Italian system provides new distance learning structures or tools to become proficient in the Italian language.
ICON - Italian Culture On the Net
ICoN Italian Culture on the Net is a Consortium of 22 Italian universities created in 1999. ICoNs mission is to promote and disseminate through electronic communication the Italian language and culture all over the world. Through the educational portal, ICoN offers its users an officially recognized three year degree program in Italian language and culture; 330 courses on Italian language and culture; a digital library and encylopaedia; a virtual museum; Italian language courses of different levels and for different audiences, news, forum and interactive teaching services.
General educational requirements
1. Do you hold a 1st cycle H.Ed. qualification (bachelor-level) awarded by an accredited foreign university or university-level institution?
2. Does your H.Ed. qualification grant access to 2nd cycle courses in the H.Ed. system of reference?
3. Do you hold a school leaving qualification awarded on completion of min. 12 years of global schooling?
4. Are you competent in Italian? (go to Competence in Italian).
In the positive, you meet the general educational requirements for access to Italian 2nd cycle H.Ed. programmes (go to "2nd cycle" in "Types of Programmes and Degrees" in the section Italian Higher Education).
It is the task of the Italian H.Ed. institution of your choice to evaluate your foreign degree, and decide if you meet not only the above general requirements but also the specific conditions for admission to the 2nd cycle programme of your choice (course requirements).
H. Ed. institutions apply their own regulations which take into account the current national legislation, bilateral agreements and multilateral conventions signed by the Italian government, the latest of which is the so-called Lisbon Convention; they may also follow some general admission criteria agreed upon at national level.
Admission to 2nd cycle degree programmes may require specific conditions, and therefore be subject to the passing of competitive admission exams; for example, that is always the case of, for example, the degree programmes of medicine and dentistry.
The Italian Higher Education System
Italian higher education is structured in a binary system, consisting of two main articulations:
* the university sector
* the non-university sector.
At present, the university sector is made up of 89 university institutions which are classified in:
* 58 State universities
* 17 non-State universities (legally recognised by the State)
* 2 universities for foreigners
* 6 higher schools specialised in postgraduate university studies
* 6 telematic universities.
The non-university sector includes 4 education typologies with their institutions:
* higher schools of design: polytechnics for the arts, academies of fine arts, higher institutes for applied arts, music conservatories and recognised music institutes, higher institutes for musical and choreographic studies, national academies
* higher education in language mediation: higher schools for language mediators
* higher integrated education (FIS): programmes of higher technical education & training (IFTS)
* a few specific fields (e.g. archiving, diplomatics, restoration, military studies, etc.) which, along with their respective institutions, fall under the supervision of ministries other than that of Education.
Options for social activities will depend very much on where you study.
Obviously the bigger cities and towns have more on offer but small towns often have very active student associations and a wider choice of outdoor activities.
The best way to find out what is going on is to check with local students and student associations.
The local papers will cover information on events taking place in the town or region.
Founding member of EU (25-3-1957)
Italy was home to many well-known and influential European cultures, including the Etruscans, Greeks, and the Romans. Its capital Rome has been a historically important world city, especially as the core of ancient Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. For more than 3,000 years Italy experienced migrations and invasions from Germanic, Celtic, Frankish, Lombard, Byzantine Greek, Saracen and Norman peoples during the Middle Ages, followed by the Italian Renaissance period, in which the Italian Wars took place and various city-states were noted for their cultural achievements. Italy was divided into many independent states and often experienced foreign domination before the Italian unification, that created Italy as an independent nation-state for the first time in its history, took place. During the period under the Italian monarchy and during the world wars Italy experienced much conflict, but stability was restored after the creation of the Italian Republic.
Today, Italy is a highly-developed country with the 7th-highest GDP and the 17th-highest Human Development Index rating in the world. It is a member of the G8 and a founding member of what is now the European Union (having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957), of the Council of Europe and of the Western European Union. It is considered by some as a great power. Starting from January 1, 2007, Italy is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Inhabitants of Italy are referred to as Italians (Italiani, or poetically Italici).