Italy is a popular destination for international students. It offers quality higher education with more affordable tuition fees than other Western European countries.
There are around 32,000 international students in Italy, including independent students and those on exchange programmes. The country has a rich history and tradition of higher education. This makes it an attractive option for students.
Why Study in Italy?
Some of the first universities in Europe were founded in Italy during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is recognised as the oldest university to still operate. Today, Italy is the home of many prestigious institutions of higher education. Many of Italy’s institutions perform well in the QS World University Rankings, appearing in the top 200 each year.
Italy has played an important role in recent reform of higher education. This reform is known as the “Bologna Process”. The country is one of the four countries that created the European Area of Higher Education. This was formed by signing the Sorbonne Declaration in 1998, which was to be the first step in the higher education reform. Today the Bologna Process is now being implemented throughout Europe.
Italy has around 97 universities, which are divided into several categories:
- State universities: These are state funded public institutions and make up the majority in Italy.
- Other publicly funded universities: Funded by Province rather than state.
- Private universities: Non state funded.
- Superior Graduate Schools (Scuola Superiore Universitaria): These are independent institutions that offer advanced training and research courses specialising in postgraduate studies.
You will also find 137 other higher education institutions throughout Italy. These are academies that specialise in certain sectors. They range from art, music and dance colleges, to research based and technical institutions.
Italy has several levels of higher education. Completing undergraduate studies (bachelor’s degree – ‘laurea’) can lead to master’s studies and earning a master’s degree (‘laurea magistrale’). Bachelor’s studies typically take 3 years to complete and master’s studies take 1 year. Following the completion of your masters studies you can do a PhD which usually lasts 3 academic years.
Most of the courses and programmes offered are taught in the Italian language but the number of English language programmes available is growing. Therefore, it may be possible to find courses taught in English if your Italian language skills are not good enough.
Italy is a beautiful country located in Southwestern Europe, on the Apennine peninsula. The country comprises of the mainland Italy and the surrounding islands. The country stretches southwards almost to the coasts of North Africa.
Italy has something to offer everyone. It boasts stunning old cities, the Mediterranean and breathtaking natural views. It is known for it’s fantastic food and wine, as well as its passionate people. At the same time, it is among the 8 most industrialised countries in the world, hosting many of the world’s biggest companies and research facilities. Italy has a rich cultural tradition and history as well as many World Heritage Sites that you might wish to visit during your stay.
The top tourist attractions in Italy include:
- The Colosseum: the largest and most famous amphitheatre in the Roman world, built in the first century AD.
- Canals of Venice: “The City of Water”, as Venice is called, has over 150 canals. The main tourist attractions are romantic gondolas and Italian architecture along the Grand Canal. If you plan on visiting Venice, don’t forget about St Mark’s Basilica, located on Piazza San Marco.
- Pompeii: a city that was covered in ash and soil in 79 AD, when the volcano Vesuvius erupted. The city was preserved under the ashes.
- Leaning Tower of Pisa: its construction started in 1173 and soon after the tower began to sink due to a poorly laid foundation.
- Lake Como: the lake is shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and it’s famous for the attractive villas which have been built here since Roman times.
Cost of Studying & Living in Italy
Tuition fees at Italian institutions vary, but they are generally lower than in other parts of Europe or North America. This makes Italian universities an enticing proposition for foreign students. International students in Italy have a chance to receive a quality higher education at an affordable cost.
The cost of tuition will vary at each institution. However, you should expect to pay more if you choose to attend a private university. A bachelor’s course will, on average, cost €900 to €4,000 per year at a public institution. Fees at a private institution usually cost, on average, €6,000 to €20,000 per year. If you are from the EU or EEA, you probably won’t pay more than Italian citizens. Other international students should expect higher course costs.
There are options to help you fund your studies. All students (Italian and International) can apply for financial help. The funding will be distributed according to your financial situation and academic merit. If you receive support, this can help with tuition fees, accommodation fees and other living costs. Contact your chosen institution for information about what financial support they can offer to you.
In Italy institutions do not normally have halls of residence. They do however offer services to help you find a place to live. This can include university owned housing, or helping you find suitable private housing. Private renting in Italy is the more expensive option, so make sure you budget for this!
Getting a part-time job is a great way to help fund your studies in Italy. As an EU student, you are able to work without additional permission. As a non-EU student, your visa will dictate if you are permitted to have paid employment whilst you study. If you are allowed to work, it will probably only be up to 20 hours a week. This means that you should not rely on this to fund your studies. If you do wish to get a job, it may be helpful if you have some Italian language skills.
Depending on your nationality, you may need to get a visa to study in Italy. If you are from an EU or EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) you will not need a visa. If you are from any other country, you will need a visa. All students will need to present details of accommodation, proof of financial stability and a comprehensive health insurance policy.
To get more information about the visa process, documents required, application costs and where to apply, please visit the MAECI website and provide the relevant information. This website will give you information that is specific to your situation.
If you are a non-EU or EFTA student, you will need to apply for a residence permit once you have a visa. This needs to be done within 8 days of your arrival in the country. You can apply for this at the post office in your new city of residence. If you need any advice or information about this process, your institution will be able to assist.
Students who are from an EU or EFTA country do not need to apply for a residence permit. However, if you plan to stay for over 3 months, you must register with the Anagrafe (register office) in your city of residence. You are able to register as a temporary resident if you do not intend to move your permanent residence to Italy. If you choose this option, it must be renewed every year. You are also able to transfer your permanent residence to Italy.
EU students who plan to study in Italy for longer than 3 months need to register with the Italian National Health Service (SSN) to gain complete health coverage. You can do this at the Local Health Authorities (ASL). You will not have to pay any fees, and you will be issued with a health insurance card (Tessera Sanitaria). This allows you access to the same health services as Italian citizens.
Non-EU students must have health insurance in order to apply for a residence permit. There are three different options for international students.
- Register with the Italian Health Service (SSN) – you can do this at your Local Health Authority (ASL).
- Purchase a private health insurance policy in your own country – it is always advisable to get this policy validated by the Italian embassy and translated into Italian or English.
- Purchase a private health insurance policy in Italy – you can do this before or after your arrival, but you need it to apply for a residence permit.
The national language of Italy is Italian, so it is a great chance to learn another language. Having multiple languages is a fantastic skill, and looks great on your CV!
If your course is taught in Italian, you need will need to provide evidence of your language proficiency. If you cannot provide this evidence, or need to improve your skills, many institutions offer language courses.
As well as courses taught in Italian, an increasing amount are being taught in English. You will need to provide evidence that your English skills meet the required standard for your specific course. If you do not meet these standards, most institutions offer courses that will allow you to improve your language skills.