An overview of Italian universities

An overview of Italian universities

There are more than 90 institutes of higher education in Italy including 47 state universities, several private universities and over 20 institutes of physical education. Also there are two universities of Italian language and culture.

Every major Italian city boasts its university. Some of them have a number of branches located in different towns throughout a region.

Famous Italian universities

The University of Bologna founded in 11 th century is the world’s oldest and highly regarded establishment. Rome has three universities, the oldest being La Sapienza. Other famous higher education facilities include the University Naval and the College of Education in Pisa.

Higher education in the country is controlled by the Ministry for Universities. Universities are organized into faculties for different teaching subjects and departments.


An overview of Italian universitiesMost degree subjects are offered by all universities and anyone with an upper secondary school diploma can apply to study any subject if there are places available. However, for degree courses that are heavily over-subscribed (which include architecture, dentistry, medicine and veterinary science), universities set entrance examinations to select the best candidates. Non-EU students are required to take an Italian-language exam unless they possess a CILS certificate. There’s no central clearing system for enrolment in Italian universities and you must apply to each university separately.

There are enrolment fees which are payable at the beginning of each year including regional taxes of around 80 euro. Each faculty sets its own fees with an average of around 550 euro for the year. Students with families with medium to low incomes are entitled to grants.

Non-EU students

Foreign applicants must provide a translation of their qualifications (obtainable through Italian consulates), which must usually be equivalent to a high school diploma or 12 years’ education. Applications must be made to Italian consulates by May for enrolment the following September. Non-EU students must apply through an Italian consulate in their home country.


As in schools, students are expected to study set texts and are examined on their knowledge. The emphasis is firmly on self-motivation and determination, particularly in view of the drawn-out nature of university degrees. Overcrowding in lecture-halls for popular courses is common, resulting in a more distant relationship between students and professors than in some other countries, and the student drop-out rate is high.

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