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Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Universita' e della Ricerca
Italian Universities

Studying in Italy

Italian Primary and Secondary Education System
School                           Age            Duration       Diploma
Scuola elementare        5/6 – 11      5 years         Licenza elementare
(Primary School)

Scuola media inferiore    11-14         3 years         Licenza Media(Middle School) 

Qualifica professionale/  14-16/17    2-3 years
Scuola professionale
(Vocational School)  


Scuola media superiore    14-19        5 years         Diploma (Secondary School)  

Education is compulsory up to the age of sixteen.
As highlighted in the above scheme, there are two different types of secondary school. Only a diploma obtained after a five-year secondary school gives access to higher education.
As far as grading is concerned, at primary and middle school level the old numerical grading has been substituted by description of skills and abilities. At the secondary level the numerical grading system is used throughout the course of studies and the final qualification (Diploma) is achieved by a minimum mark of 60 points out of 100.     

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 telematic 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, diplomatics, restoration, military studies, etc.) which, along with their respective institutions, fall under the supervision of Ministries other than that of Education.

Fees and Costs

Universities and other Higher Education Institutes establish their own fees but in the case of university education there is a legal minimum fee for enrolment and maximum level for student contributions to costs and services, which cannot exceed 20% of State funding.

The average fees a student has to pay is somewhere between 850 Euro and 1,000 Euro per year since this varies from one university to another and also depends on the chosen course of study. Private universities are clearly much more expensive.

Admission to “Master Universitari” and other Specialization courses also have much higher fees. Doctoral students who receive a grant from the university do not pay fees, but non- grant holders are required to pay the fees, which will vary again according to the university chosen

Scholarships and financial aid

All International students are entitled to the same student assistance services as Italian students, on basis of the same requisites of financial means and/or merit. This applies to scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, canteen meal tickets and fee waivers.

These services are managed by the DSU Office (Diritto allo Studio Universitario).
Alongside scholarships and financial aid information, DSU offices will also provide other services such as counseling and information on extra curricular activities, sport, transport and other practical matters.

You should contact the office at the university where you plan to study to find out what services are available to you

Visa for Students

Non EU Citizens are required to apply for a study visa prior to leaving. Applications should be made at your nearest Italian Embassy. Always start these procedures well in advance of your planned visit to Italy. These procedures are subject to change, so it is worthwhile telephoning the embassy or checking the website for information before going personally to the Visa Office.

Once you arrive in Italy you must report to the Questura within 8 days of arrival.

For more detailed information about Italy’s Higher Education System as well as general information about studying at Italian universities, please visit the website, created for international students by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR).