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Italy: bilingual site promotes HE abroad

The Italian Education Ministry has launched a new, bilingual website to promote Italian universities both at home and abroad. The move joins ongoing efforts to boost foreign recruitment in the country, which has historically been low.

The UniversItaly site, which is available in English and Italian, is designed to boost foreign access to Italian HE

Only 3.3% of Italy’s higher education enrolments are international

UniversItaly, which is available in English and Italian, allows users to browse programmes offered by Italian universities, compare tuition fees, potential scholarships and services, and access orientation advice.

“This process will break the dam,” education minister, Francesco Profumo, told reporters in Rome. “Just by announcing that this picture of Italian universities will be made public, courses in English grew by 28%.”

Just 3.3% of Italy’s higher education enrolments are international compared with the average 8.7% among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries.

In response, Italian universities are running more courses in English – the most extreme example being the leading Politecnico di Milano, which from 2014 will offer all postgraduate courses in English (the source of some controversy in Italy).

“This process will break the dam”

UniversItaly lists 37 universities currently offering courses in English. Profumo said these were of growing interest to Italian students as well as foreigners.

“We need to enhance the teaching of foreign languages to enable graduates to be more ready for a job market that is increasingly less national and more, at least, European,” he explained.

Profumo also hopes UniversItaly will boost competition among universities, thus raising standards, and help Italians choose degrees in a more targeted way – lowering high first-year drop-out rates of 23%.

Overseas students will also be able to register to take the IMAT admission test for Italian medical schools (where degrees are commonly taught in English) through the portal. Cambridge Assessment is helping the government deliver the test in English from next September, broadening access for major markets such as China and the US.

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