Most students in Italy attend state schools and universities, however there are public schools.
The education system in Italy is divided into several stages: pre-school, primary school, lower and upper-secondary school and higher and further education. The children of foreigners living in the country may also receive state education in Italy for free, irrespective of whether they’re registered residents.
Compulsory education applies from the ages of 6 to 16. After the age of 16, tuition remains free, although students should pay an enrolment tax of 20 euros at the beginning of every school year. The tax increases to around 130 euros for university students. Foreign students may also receive free university education for free and there are no quotas, although non-EU students require a student visa.
Qualifications play an important role in Italy. Very few school-leavers go directly into employment without receiving diploma, degree or professional qualification. Italy boasts one of the highest proportions of university students in the world. However, the percentage of students who graduate from university is low compared with other EU countries.
This may be caused by different reasons and one of them is that education in Italy lasts seven or eight years which leads to a high dropout rate. Although due to its demanding curricula, Italy considers its school and university education to be a higher standard than those of many other countries.
Italy is divided into scholastic districts administered by provincial local education offices. In theory, this centralized system should ensure the same standard of education throughout the country, although in practice there’s a considerable disparity between the quality of education in northern and southern schools, the former being regarded as far superior.