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 recognized by the State).
- 2 Universities for foreigners.
- 6 Higher schools specialized in postgraduate university studies.
- 6 Telemetric 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 recognized 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, diploma tics, restoration, military studies, etc.) which, along withtheir respective institutions, fall under the supervision of ministries other than that of Education.
Academic Calendar 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.
Assessment 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.
Grading systems 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).