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by Daniela Proli, SCIENTER
general and university-related information by Alessandro Caforio, UNINETTUNO

For the university-related material see Italy from Re.ViCa

For entities in Italy see Category:Italy

The regions of Italy are not yet incorporated into the structure of this wiki - for details see


Partners and Experts situated in Italy

Italy in a nutshell

Italy is a parliamentary republic. The State’s republican set-up was established by the referendum of the 2nd June 1946 by which the Italian people abolished monarchy in favour of Republic. The Constitution of the Republic is the fundamental and founding law of the Italian Republic. It was approved by the Constituent Assembly on the 22nd December 1947, promulgated by the Interim Head of State, Enrico De Nicola, on the 27th December 1947 and came into force on the 1st January 1948. It consists of the Republic’s fundamental principles, the rights and duties of the citizens and lays down the organisation of the Republic also as it regards the national education system.

The Italian population is 59.715.627 (source: ISTAT, 2007) and the per-capita GDP is about 27,000 euro per year. Italy extends from the southern side of the Alps’ arc and stretches out to the Mediterranean Sea; its territory includes also Sardinia and Sicily, two large islands, beside a range of smaller islands. The sea at the Eastern side of the peninsula is the Adriatic Sea, at Southeast there is the Ionian Sea; at the West, along the entire peninsula, there is the Tyrrhenian Sea, whereas in the Northwest of the peninsula there is the Ligurian Sea. From a geographical viewpoint Italy’s regions are divided into: northern regions (Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Emilia-Romagna); the central regions (Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, Latium, Abruzzo); the southern regions (Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria) and the islands (Sicily and Sardinia).

Administrative division

The President of the Republic is the State highest charge and he represents national unity. He is appointed every seven years by the Parliament, convened in a joint sitting, integrated by the regional representatives. He does not have a policy-making role, nevertheless the Constitution entrusts him legislative, executive and judicial functions. In periods of political stability his role is actually limited to representative and monitoring functions. However, the powers conferred to him by the Constitution make the role of the President of the Republic get more importance in situations of political instability or of institutional drift of the State.

The State legislative power is entrusted to a bicameral Parliament composed of the Chamber of Deputies (630 Deputies) and of the Senate of the Republic (315 Senators elected, plus the life Senators). Both houses are elected by universal suffrage (at present, the electoral law provides for the allocation of the sieges among the candidates of different blocked competitive lists in proportion with the votes obtained, with a majority bonus assuring the governability to the most voted coalition lists). In Italy is in force a perfect bicameralism: the Houses have the same functions and the same powers. A law has to be approved, in its same text, by both Houses. In case of contrast between the Houses the law is not approved. As a consequence, the electoral laws of the two Houses are quite similar in order to avoid that differences in policy-making paralyse the Parliament. This system was conceived in order to have a higher balance of the decision-makers in approving the laws. The Houses hold office for 5 years, but the President of the Republic can dismiss them in before the term office.

The executive power is held by the Government, which, according to art. 92, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, comprises two distinct bodies: the President of the Council of Ministers, the Ministers and the Council of Ministers consisting in the union of the above-mentioned bodies. The Ministers are responsible on an individual basis of the acts of their offices and, on a collegial basis, of the acts of the Council of Ministers. The President of the Council directs the Government’s policy, but in the framework of the Council he is primus inter pares among his colleagues. However, if he resigns, the entire Government resigns The President of the Republic, further to consultations with the main political leaders, appoints the President of the Council and, upon proposal of this last one, the Ministers. After taking office, the Government shall present itself to the Parliament and obtain confidence vote by both Houses. Since the Ministers cannot be revoked, sometimes. in order to force them to resign, each Chamber votes for no confidence for an individual minister.

The Magistrates exercises the judiciary power (both the inquiring and the judging one and it is an autonomous and independent body from any other power. The ordinary Magistrates have the jurisdictional function (see jurisdiction entry), which they govern in the name of the people. The Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (the Higher Council of the Magistrates), elected for one third of its members by the Parliament in joint sitting and for two thirds by all Magistrates is chaired by rights by the President of the Republic and has self-governing tasks of the Magistrates.

Education in Italy

The Italian education systems has been under reform for years, being a critical field where changes in government have been reflected in a series of reforms being not always on a continuity line.

As reported by Eurydice, The Italian education system is currently structured as follows:

  • Scuola dell'infanzia (non-compulsory pre-primary education) for children between 3 and 6 years of age, lasting 3 years;
  • first cycle of education (8 years), organised in primary education for children between 6 and 11 years of age, which lasts 5 years, and lower secondary school for children between 11 and 14 years of age, lasting 3 years;
  • second cycle of education consisting of two different pathways:
  • upper secondary school, which falls under the responsibility of the State, lasts 5 years and is addressed to students from 15 to 19 years of age. This level of education is provided by licei, technical institutes, art institutes and vocational institutes.
  • initial vocational training (three-year courses) for students who have completed the first cycle of education and is organised by the Regions. Compulsory education ends with the first two year of the second cycle.
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education, within the higher technical education and training system (Istruzione e Formazione Tecnica Superiore – IFTS), offering higher technical education and training pathways and courses provided by Higher Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici Superiori – ITS);
  • higher education sector consisting of university and non-university higher education. The higher education system is divided into State and non-State establishments and is organized according to the Bologna structure (bachelor, master and doctorate)

More information can be found at

Compulsory education

Thanks to recent reforms dating back to 2007, education in Italy is now compulsory for ten years (up to 16 years of age), whereas each person has to remain in education or training up to 18 years of age or for a total of 12 years. Specifically, compulsory education includes the first cycle of education (5 years of primary school followed by 3 years of lower secondary school, with no exam in-between) and the first two years of the second cycle of education. The latter can be accomplished either in upper secondary schools (“licei”, technical and vocational institutes) or within vocational training, namely in three-years courses run by the Regions which in Italy are responsible for managing and delivering vocational training. It is worth stressing, that unlike several European school systems, primary and lower secondary education remains two different education levels in Italy, each with its’ own specificities, due to the quite recent re-organisation of school cycle and the different teacher education path for being appointed to primary or secondary school

Post compulsory education

As far as upper secondary general education is concerned, a reform applied from school years 2010/2011 has introduced a systematization of upper secondary schools, in order to make clearer and more transparent the existing educational supply to students and parents, hereby counteracting a trend which in the last decades had produced - by means of experimentations - a huge number of different upper secondary school paths Post-secondary non-tertiary education is available within the “higher technical education and training system” (Istruzione e Formazione Tecnica Superiore – IFTS). It offers

  • higher technical education and training pathways
  • courses provided by Higher Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici Superiori – ITS).

The system is designed to speed up the access of young people to the world of work and to retrain those who already have work experience. This is done through courses which are designed to provide young people and adults (employed or otherwise) with more specific cultural knowledge and in-depth and targeted technical and vocational training. Courses offered by the Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) are aimed at meeting the formative needs throughout the country, referred to the following 6 technological areas: energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, new technologies in life, new technologies 'made in Italy', innovative technologies for arts and cultural activities, ICT. IFTS courses, on the contrary, are planned by the Regions within their own exclusive competences. Anyone (adults included) holding an upper secondary education leaving certificate, has access to courses offered by the High Technical Institutes (ITS) and to IFTS pathways. Access to IFTS pathways is also allowed to those in possession of a three-year vocational diploma, to those who have been admitted to the fifth year of the liceo, as well as to those who do not hold any upper secondary certification. These latter are required to hold a certification of competences acquired through previous training and working experiences undertaken after the fulfilment of compulsory education. Post-secondary non tertiary education also includes "Second-level vocational training" , addressing those who have obtained an upper secondary school leaving certificate or a first-level qualification in the three year vocational education and training courses. Second-level courses, offering a qualification and a specialisation in a profession of a specific area, foresee full time attendance in an accredited formative institute, which manages the courses, and a compulsory ‘stage’.

Schools in Italy

Further and Higher education

Higher Education

The higher education sector consisting of university and non-university higher education. The higher education system is divided into State and non-State establishments. Higher Education is organized in three cycles – Bachelor, Master and Doctorate according to the Bologna Process. Access to both tertiary education and AFAM (high level artistic, musical and chorus education), is reserved to students who passed the state exam at the end of upper secondary school . The legal provisions in force for higher education in Italy are set out in Article 33 of the Italian Constitution, which recognises the right of universities and academies to act autonomously within the limits set by the law. Both public and private organisations have the right to establish schools and educational establishments. Universities have adopted new autonomy statutes which establish their governing bodies as well as their teaching and research structures. Academies and Afam institutes are the principal seats of high level education, specialization and research in the art and music sector. They have statutory legal status and autonomy in regards to the following fields; teaching, scientific, administrative, financial and accounting.

Universities in Italy

Polytechnics in Italy

Colleges in Italy

Education reform


Two governments, belonging to two opposite political coalitions, have been in power since 2003. As a consequence, the education system has undergone various amendments. The reform of the Italian education system started with Law no. 53/2003. It took place within the principle of Lifelong Learning, defining the main characteristics of the education system, divided into two cycles:

  • 1st cycle: primary school and lower secondary school
  • 2nd cycle: upper secondary school.

This law and its legislative decrees led to the reform of the 1st cycle of the educational system which has been into force since 2003. The reform of the 2nd cycle announced by the law was only realised in February 2010.

The National Guidelines for pre-primary school and the 1st cycle of education, introduced shortly after Law no. 53/2003, have been implemented by the Guidelines for the Curriculum, drawn up by a panel of experts in 2007 and supported by the new Ministry of the Government in power from 2006 until 2008.

The same Governement has raised in 2007 extended compulsory education by two more years (lasting now ten years isnetad of 8 as previously) and including the 1st cycle and the first two years of the 2nd cycle (which can be accomplished either in vocation training). The first two years of the second cycle are now meant to be oriented to the acquisition a fundamental body of knowledge and competences preparing for lifelong learning and active citizenship, in line with the european competences for lifelong learning (as adopted by Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on 18th December 2006 ).

These include the key competences (competences for citizenship) that students are expected to have acquired at the end of compulsory education, regardless of the school path, as well as a set of basic competences related to four 'cultural areas/axes'.

The aim of this reform was to homogenise different schools’ curricula in the first two years in order to ensure the passage from teaching processes which were mainly subjects-centred to learning experiences centred on competences, so as to make different school paths more equal in terms of learning outcomes and “universal” preparation for the lifelong learning, active citizenship and employability.

The four axes are:

  1. that of languages;
  2. mathematical;
  3. scientific-technological;
  4. social-historical.

According to the indication of the Ministry of 2007, such axes “shall act as the basis to build learning paths headed towards the acquisition of related competences (including knowledge, skills and competence as in the EQF) as the result of the their integration”.

The 8 key competences are on the other hand defined as “the result coming from the integration in a learning process of knowledge and skills related to the four cultural axes”.

The 8 competences include:

  1. Learning to Learn;
  2. Planning;
  3. Communicating;
  4. Understanding messages of different nature and different complexity level, and coming from different media with different languages (mathematical, symbolical, scientific etc.);
  5. Representing events, phenomenon, concepts, emotions etc, using different languages as above;
  6. Collaborating and participating;
  7. Acting in an autonomous and responsible way;
  8. Solving problems;
  9. Identifying connections and linkages;
  10. Acquiring and interpreting information.

For more information see


The offer at higher technical education and training level has been reorganised in 2008; according to this reorganisation the offer at this level is the following:

  • courses provided by the Higher Technical Institutes (Istituti Tecnici Superiori – ITS)
  • pathways offered by the Higher technical education and training institutes (Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore – IFTS).

Administration and finance


Overall responsibility for school education lies within the Ministry of Education, University and Research (Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca), which works at central level, while regional and provincial education offices work at local level. Regions may delegate certain responsibilities to the provinces and municipalities. As regards school education, the Ministry carries out its own functions in the following areas:

  • the general organisation of school education;
  • school organisation and timetabling;
  • the legal status of the staff;
  • the definition of the criteria and parameters for the organisation of the school network;
  • the determination of the financial resources to be borne by the State budget and school staffing;
  • the assessment of the school system;
  • the identification of the training objectives and standards in the field of higher education, etc..

According to Law no. 59 of 15 March 1997, all schools are granted teaching autonomy, organizing autonomy and research, experimentation and development autonomy.

The Constitution establishes that the State has to provide for a state-owned education system, but it also establishes that also non-state school may exist. These can be of two different kinds:

  • schools with equal status (paritarie), these are schools managed by private subjects or public bodies. They have been granted equal status, as they have met specific requirements such as: carrying out an educational plan in coherence with the principles included in the Constitution and in the legislation, allowing everyone willing to be enrolled, hiring teaching staff holding a qualification to teach and according to the national contracts (law 62/2000). Schools with equal status are allowed to issue legally recognised certificates and are part of the national education and training system.
  • schools with non-equal status (non paritarie) (law 27/2006). These are schools that did not present a request for obtaining the equal status or do not meet the specific requirements. They are not allowed to issue officially recognised certificates, they cannot be called 'school' and they are not institutions for the fulfilment of the right/duty (diritto/dovere) to education.

In school year 2007/08, people enrolled in non-State school were the 5.5 % of the entire school population.

General administration at local level

The organisation of the MIUR provides for a ‘peripheral’ organisation made up of the Regional School Offices. They are autonomous centres of administrative responsibility exercising residual state functions, not transferred to the Regions and schools, as well as the functions involved in relationships with the Regions and local bodies, University and training agencies.

The Regional Administration Departments (Assessorati) deal with education and training issues at regional level. Furthermore, the Education Office of the Regional authorities is responsible for planning the integrated educational offer which includes general education and vocational training; school network planning, based on provincial plans; school calendar determination; funds destined to non-state schools. It is also responsible for vocational training.

Administration and management at local level

In each school, the management and administration functions are vested in the Consiglio di circolo (for pre-school establishments and primary schools) or in the Consiglio di istituto (for secondary schools) and in the Dirigente scolastico.

The Consiglio di circolo and the Consiglio di istituto are responsible for questions relating to the budget and the organisation and planning of school activities. As part of this autonomy, each educational establishment draws up the Educational offer plan (POF), which is the basic document that defines the school’s cultural identity and plans for the future. This document is drawn up by the Collegio dei docenti (Teachers’ Committee) and is approved by the Consiglio di circolo or by the Consiglio di istituto.

The principal handles the management of the school. He is its legal representative, and he is responsible for the management of the school’s financial and material resources and for the results of the service. The principal has independent powers of management, coordination and use of the resources, and to this end he has the power to promote actions aimed at guaranteeing the quality of the training processes.

The Collegio dei docenti (Teachers’ Committee) formulates teaching and educational plans for each school year, and in particular the Piano dell’Offerta Formativa. This Committee periodically reviews the overall teaching activity to ensure that it conforms to the planned objectives, proposing improvements where necessary.

Financing of the system

Although Law no. 59 of 15 March 1997 grants schools autonomy in regards to teaching methodology, organisation, research, experimentation and development, it does not give schools financial autonomy.

The State directly provides the administrative and didactic financing of the school, while the Regions provide services and assistance for pupils (school meals, transport, textbooks in primary school, grants for less well-off pupils and social care). The Provinces and the Municipalities, for their part, can provide assistance and services by way of delegation from the Regions. Enrolment and attendance in compulsory education are free of charge. For the pre-school level, even though it is not compulsory, tuition fees are not charged, while at upper secondary level pupils are expected to pay very low enrolment fees, examination fees and contributions towards the functioning of laboratories/workshops.


IFTS The Regions plan the institution of IFTS courses in order to assure integration among educational systems. IFTS courses are free of charge. They are co-financed by the Ministry and by the Regions; however, private financing can also be foreseen. IFTS pathways are planned and carried by minimum four educational subjects: school, vocational training, university, enterprise or another public or private subject, formally associated in the form of a consortium

Course offered by Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) High Technical Institutes (ITS)are specific types of foundations (half-way between being associations and private foundations). They can be set up by: an upper secondary school, either State-funded or paritaria, belonging to the technical/vocational branch situated in the same province of the foundation; a training institution which has been accredited by the Region for the purpose of higher level training and situated in the same province of the foundation; an enterprise belonging to the same productive branch of the ITS; university department or any other body belonging to the technological/scientific research system; a local authority (municipality, province, extended urban area, etc).

Second level initial vocational training Regions are also responsible for the establishment of the post-diploma courses/post-vocational qualification courses (second level initial vocational training); they organise the courses by setting up a regional/provincial call and train professional profiles with a high specialization level to meet the needs of the local professional market. In most Regions, courses are financed through the European Social Fund, therefore they are offered free of charge.

Quality assurance, inspection and accreditation


In 2004 a National System for the Evaluation of the Education and Training System was established and the National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education and Training system (INVALSI) was put in charge of the evaluation process. The task of the Institute is to improve the quality of the education system, through the evaluation of its efficiency also in relation with the international context.

The Ministerial Directive on the action plan of INVALSI for the next three years, establishes that, as for the evaluation of the education system, INVALSI draws up an annual report on the school system, which must include both quantitative indicators (demand/supply ratio, resources, etc.) and qualitative indicators (analysis of exam outcomes, analysis of national and international surveys, etc.).

According to the three-year directive, the areas subject to intervention are the following:

  • education system evaluation;
  • schools evaluation;
  • evaluation of the learning outcomes of pupils and students


Information society

Generally speaking, the action of the Italian government in the last decade with regards to information society is in line with the overall objectives of the Lisbon agenda and focuses on two main lines:

  • e-government
  • Infrastructure development to ensure access to information society and overcoming of digital divide in the territory

The report "Citizens and New Technologies 2010" published by ISTAT, The Italian National Institute of Statistics , provides an overview of the diffusion and use of ICT among the italian population. Italy performs bad with respect to many European countries, both on internet home diffusion/quality of available connections (59% of italian families have interner against a european average of 70%) and broadband access (49% against 61%), although access in increasing over the years. A strong divarius still persists between the North and the South of the country in terms of access to information society and penetration of ICT

The "Digital Italy" Plan is the government current instrument to stimulate the development of digital infrastructure and promote the widespread use of digital technologies, services and processes, promoting greater competitiveness, productivity and efficiency, and resulting in greater economic growth and employment in the country. The plan has two main pillars:

  • Broadband National Plan, aimed at eliminating the digital divide in the country, by supporting through public intervention the infrastructual development in those areas (around 6000) where development costs cannot be supported by market forces, due to low pay-off. The goal is to ensure within 2013 access to modern infrastructure to 8,5 millions of Italians who at the end of 2008 found themselved affected by "digital divide". see: Broadband National Plan
  • Next Generation Networks Plan, aimed at ensuring that at least the 50% of the population has access to services with over 100mbps of speed wittin 2020, in line with the European Degital Agenda objectives.

More information can be found on Italian Digital Agenda, a dedicated space on the website of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development aimed at informing on national activities headed towards the development of an advanced information society.

In 2004 a Statistical Report on Society Information in Italy has been published by the former Ministry for innovation and technology, which is no longer existing.

ICT in education initiatives

Since 2000 the Ministry of Education, University and Research has supported schools in the use of ICT in the teaching/learning processes. Widespread use of new technology in schools was introduced by means of the School System Reform in 2003 concerning the 1st cycle of education. ICT has then been included in 2007 as a key competence to be acquired during the first and second cycle of education A wide set of initiatives were then launched with the aim of reforming the school administration and innovating the teaching/learning methodology to better cope with the needs of teachers, students and families and face the challenges of the knowledge society. The major initiatives have concerned:

  • Supplying schools with multimedia equipment
  • Connecting schools to the Internet
  • Setting up networks and services
  • Training teachers

The Ministry of Education has adopted several projects to develop the use of IT in the teaching/learning process: The most important is the Digital School action plan (2010) which concerns the support and spread of ICT tools and methodologies to innovate in schools and modify learning environment. The plan is made up of three actions:

  • LIM -Multimedia Interactive White Boards, supply of multimedia interactive boards to schools within classrooms and the development of digital classes . As reported by European Schoolnet (2011) The LIM plan is implemented in two phases: first with the supply of 16.000 IWBs to lower secondary schools in 2009, and in a second stage 8.000 IWBs will be provided to primary and upper secondary schools by 2011; ANSAS (National Agency for the Support of School Autonomy, formerly INDIRE) will ensure in-service teacher training for a proficient use of IWB and digital content (50.000 teachers at lower secondary level and 25.000 teachers at primary and upper secondary level).
  • cl@ssi 2.0 the initiative is aimed at exploring the potential of ICT in transforming learning environment in school to the benefits of students, including the acquisition of competences. The project is implemented through pilots in school at lower secondary level across all Italian regions, funded by the Ministry of education.
  • Digital Publishing: this project has been recently launched to support the development and diffusion of innovative publishing resources for learning in school which comply and support new interdisciplinary and competence-oriented approaches, making the best of ICT opportunities. 20 prototypes are going to be selected on the publishing market, acquired and experimented in schools.

Other projects support a better integration between schools and families through the possibilities offered by ICT. In particular the School-Family project provides services for systematic, transparent and timely school-families communication such as online reports, digital registers, online students file, attendance registers. Some initiatives have also been undertaken in the area of teacher training, using online learning environment for teachers to help them familiarizing with ICT and integrate them in daily teaching practices.

This include for instance the eLearning environment for school teachers - managed by ANSAS - PuntoEDU, which offers different opportunities for in-service training of teachers, through a blended modality of eLearning. A platform is made available with a tutor to attend several teacher training courses, based on an active learning approach which include forum, representations of knowledge, exchange of good practices and use of learning objects. The core approach is that of learning by doing and by exchange with the group of peers, so as to develop situated knowledge and help teachers in the passage from theory to practice by sharing the knowledge produced and develop their own teaching material.

Virtual initiatives in schools

cl@ssi 2.0

See the website as mentioned above the initiative is aimed at exploring the potential of ICT in transforming learning environment and is implemented through pilots in school at lower secondary level across all Italian regions, funded by the Ministry of education. The website offers presentation of several of the pilots carried out so far as well as data and info on participating schools

Islands in Network

Islands in Network Scuole in rete is a project aimed at ensuring the integration and combating isolation of insular schools7classroom in Sicily by putting them in network with inland schools/classrooms.

The context in which insular schools act is problematic, since the absence of aggregation centres and the scarce connections could turn in cultural isolation and closure. These schools are also also affected by a high turnover of teachers which results in very low continuity in didactics. The idea of a distance network of schools was born exactly to combat such isolation and its consequences

HSH@Network (Hospital School Home)

The national portal HSH@Network (Hospital School Home) is aimed at ensuring the relationship between institutions and families so to ensure the possibility to study for students in hospital, in house therapy or in day hospital. The portal include a platform called HSH (hospital school home) which addresses teachers who can create ad hoc virtual learning group for their students


See the website


Scuola B@rdi is a project of the province of Parma of consortile and telematic school aimed at reducing students communiting in remote areas of the appenine and combating drop out. This consortile school was born from the initiative of a group of schools in the territory of the Parma province which have created a common path for the first two years of secondary education aimed at students who live in small municipalities which are far away from their schools, in order to reduce their commuting and combat drop out. In particular, students from these municipalities can follow some general courses at distance and are provided with a platform for studying on line and staying in touch with teachers of their school. For more specific courses they have to go to travel to their school.

Virtual initiatives in post-secondary education

Lessons learnt

General lessons

Notable practices


  1. Italian Ministry of Education, University and research
  2. Eurybase, The Information Database on Education Systems in Europe: The Education System in Italy, 2009/10
  3. Eurydice, National system overviews on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms, Italy 2010
  4. Eurydice, Structures of European Education and Training Systems in Europe, Italy, 2009/10

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