Italy is a popular destination for international students, offering quality higher education, highly-ranked universities and more affordable tuition fees than many other Western European countries. For these reasons, many internationals choose to study abroad in Italy.
There are around 32,000 international students in Italy, including independent students and those on exchange programmes. Italy was one of the 4 countries to first implement the Bologna Process, a higher education reform that’s now being implemented throughout Europe. The country has a rich history and tradition of higher education and great intellectuals, which makes Italy a very attractive option for international students.
Some of the first universities in Europe were founded in Italy during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. For example, the University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is recognised as the oldest university in continuous operation. Today, Italy is the home of many prestigious universities and other institutions of higher education. Many of Italy’s universities perform well in the QS World University Rankings, such as the Università di Bologna (194), The Sapienza University of Rome (216), Politecnico di Milano (244), Università di Roma in Rome, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Padova in Padua, Università degli Studi di Firenze in Florence, and the Università di Pisa in Pisa.
Italy has played an important role in recent reform of higher education known as “Bologna Process”, as one of the four countries that created the European Area of Higher Education, formed by signing the Sorbonne Declaration in 1998, which was to be the first step in the higher education reform. Today the Bologna Process is now being implemented throughout Europe.
Italy has 89 universities, which are divided into several categories:
State universities: These are state funded public universities which comprises of most of the universities in Italy, particularly the larger universities.
Other publicly funded universities: Funded by Province rather than state.
Private universities: Non state funded.
Superior Graduate Schools (Scuola Superiore Universitaria): These are independent institutions that offer advanced training and research courses specialising in postgraduate studies.
There are also certain non-university institutions of higher education, such as higher schools of design, schools of higher education in language meditation and schools of higher integrated education.
Italy has several levels of higher education. Completing undergraduate studies (bachelor’s degree – ‘laurea’) can lead to master’s studies and earning a master’s degree (‘laurea magistrale’). Undergraduate studies typically take 3 years to complete and master’s studies take 1 year. Following the completion of your masters studies you can continue with a PhD which usually lasts 3 academic years.
Most of the courses and programmes offered are taught in the Italian language but the number of English language programmes available is growing. This is particularly true for graduate level courses. Therefore, it may be possible to find courses and programmes taught in English if you wish to study in Italy but your Italian language skills are not good enough.