The italian university system
Since the Academic Year 2001-2002 the majority of Italian universities have changed their teaching structure on the basis of Ministerial Decree n.509/99.
Afterwards, further changes have been made by the Ministerial Decree n.270/2004.
The reform equals Italian graduates to other European graduates, both for course duration and for the qualifications awarded.
Thanks to the reform, degree courses are shorter (three years) and it is possible to be awarded qualifications enabling the ‘free circulation of professions’ within the European Union.
Students may apply for any degree course provided they hold upper secondary school diploma or an equivalent foreign qualification, recognised as suitable.
If necessary, the University will decide individual entry on the basis of the curriculum with respect to the chosen course.
This evaluation may evidence a lack in university educational credits (expressed in university educational debt) which will have to be covered within the first year with teaching activities duly organised by the University.
WHAT ARE ECTS - CREDITS - CFU?
In the University credit system, one CFU equals one ECTS credit and represents the workload of a student during educational activities aimed at passing the exams.
Educational activities include individual study, class time (lectures, seminars, mock exams), laboratory and practical activities (professional training and traineeships in a company). The average quantity of training activities for a full-time student with an adequate initial preparation in one academic year is worth 60 credits - CFU. 25 hours dedicated to study purposes (individual study, lectures, laboratory activities, traineeships) correspond to 1 CFU.
The First Degree is awarded with 180 credits - CFU, while the Second Degree is awarded with a total amount of 300 credits - CFU. First and Second level Masters, of the duration of 1 year, are awarded with additional 60 credits - CFU.
If, after the First Degree a Second Degree belonging to a different class is chosen, then a university educational debt may occur (e.g.: your First Degree is in Physics and you apply for a Second Degree in Mathematics). In this case the lacks will be expressed in university educational debts which have to be covered by the student.
The credit system allows students to change Degree course: the educational authority is responsible for assessing the valid credits and those to be achieved within a given period of time.
HOW ARE THE EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES ORGANISED?
Students may dedicate 1500 hours per year to study purposes (individual study, lectures, laboratory activities, traineeships).
1500 hours correspond to 60 CFU - ECTS credits. This means 1 credit CFU - ECTS credit quantifies the commitment/study required to reach given educational goals: higher CFU - ECTS credits correspond to more difficult courses (and related exams).
At the end of each course an examination will assess each student’s quality of learning. Such assessment is expressed as a fraction of 30.
The CFU - ECTS credits (the quantity of learning) corresponding to each course are awarded by passing the examination, regardless of the mark.
The credit system applies to all educational activities, both of study and of practical or experimental kind: basically, credits are awarded also for activities without final examinations (such as professional training and traineeships).
HOW DO TEACHING ACTIVITIES CHANGE?
All students attending courses which belong to the same class of degree share the same subjects for the first year (for, at least, 60 credits - CFU) before they differentiate their educational pathways.
Therefore, for example, the student in Written and Hyper-textual Communication Studies (class 5) will attend, for the first year, the same courses as the student in Literary Civilisations and History of Civilisations (class 5).
Each Degree programme provides a curriculum in which the courses are grouped into three categories:
- non-compulsory within a group indicated by the Faculty;
- chosen by the student.
The number of subjects and exams depends upon the number of credits you need: you can reach the 60 credits - CFU per year choosing many low-credit subjects or few high-credit subjects. As a final result, the annual sum of credits - CFU gained must be 60, which means 180 in three years or 300 in five years or 360 in six years.
Among the new methods aimed at a more effective educational activity, there are teachings and subjects that can offer professional skills together with the recognition of professional training and traineeships as part of the educational pathway.
In this system, the student’s constant commitment is given more importance: during assessment of his/her work, this is valued together with the exam, which is no longer the only assessment method.
HOW DOES THE COURSE FINISH?
Each University defines a final examination to award the First Degree; the Second Degree is only awarded after the dissertation written by the student under the supervision of an academic member of staff.
The final grade is expressed as a fraction of 110, with the possibility of a "with honours" mention.
WHAT IS A DEGREE? AND A DEGREE CLASS?
Each University chooses its degrees and qualifications and identifies them with a name (e.g. degree in Mechanical Engineering and the relative qualification of mechanical engineer). Degrees are grouped into classes, defined by the Ministry of University and giving legal validity to the qualification.
WHAT DOES 3+2 MEAN?
It is the most frequently used expression to describe the structure of University education. It refers in particular to the duration of degree courses.
The system provides two degree levels and knowledge of a further European language excluding Italian is also required.
applicants need an Italian upper secondary school leaving qualification diploma. The duration is 3 years, during which students shall collect 180 CFU - ECTS credits.
applicants need a first degree or a three-year university diploma (prior to the reform) or a recognised foreign qualification; the duration is 2 years, during which students shall collect 120 CFU - ECTS credits. By the end of a Second Degree, students will have 300 CFU - ECTS credits: 180 for the First Degree, except in the case of a Second Degree belonging to a different class - e.g. First Degree in Mathematics, Second Degree in Physics - in this case only part of the 180 credits - CFU will be useful for the Second Degree.
Classes: Pharmacy, Dentistry and Orthodontics, Veterinary Medicine, (duration: 5 years for all) and Medicine and Surgery (duration: 6 years).
For these degrees no qualification is awarded after the first three years, but only at the end of the cycle.
Law: (duration: 1+4 years) by the end of the first year, applicants may dedice to either continue the one cycle degree (4 more years) or switch to a First degree (2 more years).
FIRST LEVEL MASTERS' DEGREE
The entry requirement is a First Degree or a three-year university diploma (before the reform). You may choose a First Level Master immediately after your First Degree or also after several years, in order to let workers keep up-to-date and increase their specific competences by attending it (lifelong learning).
The duration of a First Level Master is 1 year and is worth 60 credits - CFU.
SECOND LEVEL MASTERS' DEGREEE
The entry requirement is a Second Degree or a degree (prior to the reform): it provides students with a higher level of specialisation and working competence. You may choose a Second Level Master immediately after your Second Degree or also after several years, in order to let workers keep up-to-date and increase their specific competences by attending it (lifelong learning).
The duration of a Second level Masters' Degree is 1 year and is worth 60 credits - CFU.
Neither First or Second level masters' degrees have direct access to PhD.
SECOND LEVEL SPECIALISATION DEGREE - POSTGRADUATE SCHOOLS
Second Level Specialisation Degrees - Postgraduate Schools may only be instituted in application of specific laws or European Union directives.
The minimum entry requirement is a First Degree. Further specific admission requirements and additional university educational credits may be indicated in the teaching regulations of each degree programme.
To achieve the qualification of a Second Level Specialisation Degree, students have to collect 300-360 CFU - ECTS credits, including those earned and recognised in order to enter the course.
RESEARCH DOCTORATE - PhD
After the Second Degree, Research Doctorates provide students with training for highly specialised research. The objective of such courses is to form highly specialised researchers who will work in Universities and in private or public research institutions. A Research Doctorate course minimum duration is three years.