The Italian Study Abroad Market

In this market report on Italy we will cover socio-economic, educational and mobility trends. The Italian constitution guarantees the freedom of education. It also provides for state schools and guarantees the independence of universities. The constitution further states that the public schools are open to all and makes provision for scholarships and grants.

At the turn of the century, only 10% of Italians had obtained a university or college degree. Although educational attainment is higher in the younger generations, it is still lagging behind in comparison to other European countries.

According to a recent report commissioned by the European Commission, Italy has a number of challenges which are strongly related to the stagnant economy. The most prominent has to do with Italy’s investment in education which is well below the EU average particularly in higher education. In addition, the transition from education to work remains difficult, even for highly qualified people. This results in a growing number of university graduates emigrating. All this and more in the Market Report on Italy.

Quick facts

  • Population: 59,5 million (2020)

  • Education: 10 years compulsory

  • Academic year: September – July

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 11

  • Duration: 8 years (3 years lower secondary, 5 years upper secondary education)

  • Enrollment numbers: 4.6 million

Higher education

  • Duration: 3 years (Bachelor) – 2 years (Master), 3 years (PhD)

  • Enrollment numbers: 1.9 million (2020)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 62%

  • Universities / Institutions: 90

Italian Education System

Secondary education

The Italian educational system provides  elementary school for 6- to 11-year-olds; lower secondary or middle school for 11- to 14-year-olds; upper secondary school or vocational training for 15- to 18- or 19-year-olds; and university, university institutes, or Fine Arts academies for those 19 and older.

Admission to Higher Education

In order to meet entry requirements for a bachelor’s degree at an Italian university, students must successfully have completed upper secondary studies and have a valid school leaving certificate. Bachelor’s level programs in Italy are only offered in Italian so one is expected to have sufficient command of the Italian language.

Higher Education system

There are 90 universities in Italy. There are also a number of specialized postgraduate centers, polytechnics and other academies that form part of the higher education sector.

Under the Bologna Process, Italy has implemented the nuovo ordinamento system, replacing the former vecchio ordinamento. Higher education in Italy now consists of a three-year bachelor’s degree called the laurea triennale, which can be followed by the two-year master’s degree (laurea magistrale, previously the laurea specialistica).

University degree programs

  • Bachelor’s degree (Laurea triennale): general scientific education.
    Duration: 3 years. 180 ECTS
  • Master’s degree (Laurea magistrale): specialized scientific education.
    Duration: 2 years. 120 ECTS
  • Doctoral degree (PhD) – ‘Dottorato di ricerca’
    Duration: 3 year or more.
Visual depicting the Italian Educational System

Latest Italian Higher Education study abroad stats

At this point a total number of 77,505 Italian students are studying abroad (source: UNESCO). These are the most popular study abroad destinations among students from Italy:

Italian students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in Italy

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Scholarships for Italian students

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