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Higher Education Institutions in Italy

The Italian higher education encompasses university sector and the non-university sector.

University Sector

The University sector comprises State Universities, Non-State universities, and Technical universities, universities for foreigners, online universities, and higher schools. The distinctions between state and non-state universities concerned mainly with financing and administration.

State Universities
State universities are public institutions bestowed with scientific, teaching, managerial, financial and accounting autonomy. They can function freely in matters of both public and private law. State university's significant functions are higher education and scientific research. The authorities that administer and regulate within a state university are:
  • Rector: The Rector (Rettore) administers and oversees the general running of all universities and their services.
  • Academic Senate (Senato Accademico): It creates universal rules and regulations for carrying out activities of the university and also plans university's growth and evolution.
  • The Board of Directors (Consiglio di Amministrazione): Oversees and manages the administrative, money-related, and human resources of the university.
Non-State Universities
Non-State universities are acknowledged by a pronouncement of the Minister of Education. They conform to the same general standards and criteria as delineated by the national university enactment for State institutions.

Technical Universities
In the Italian framework, the technical universities are those that focus completely on Engineering and Architecture subject fields.

Universities for Foreigners
These universities are state institutions specialised in teaching and research for the advancement and dissemination of the Italian dialect, culture and literature.

Higher Schools
Higher schools managed by special legislation are institutions specialised in postgraduate university studies and experimental exploration. They offer third cycle programs in research doctorates.

Telematic/Online Universities
Telematic/Online universities are non-State universities specialised in e-learning and provide distance programs accredited by the State.

Non-University Sector
The state non-university sector mainly comprises arts, language mediation and psychotherapy studies at postgraduate institutes. It additionally involves the courses at military academies, higher technical education and vocational education by Regions. This sector provides education and training to practice in various fields, but mainly in the following:
  • Artistic professions such as music, dance, drama, design
  • Language mediation training to join linguistic professions as interpreters and translators
  • Technical and vocational education programs for to adults to fast track employment opportunities.
  • Cultural heritage conservation and related professions to preserve rich Italian traditional legacy.
The non-university sector includes: Academies of Fine Arts, Higher Institutes/Schools for Design/Applied Arts, Music Conservatories and other recognised Music Institutes National Academies for Cinema, Dance, Drama and advanced musical studies, Higher Institutes for Conservation and Restoration of cultural assets, and Schools for Archiving, Palaeography and Diplomatics.

Academies of Fine Arts

The academies of fine arts primary provide education and training for the traditional professions in painting, decorative arts, sculpture, and applied arts. The courses offered lasts for four years and on completion of the course, the students are awarded specific academic diplomas and license in the specialist sector of their choice.

Higher Schools of Design or Applied Arts

Such institutes /schools are State institutions that provide education and training in the fields of industrial production, such as graphic and industrial design, interior designing and so on.  These schools run 1st level programs and admissions depend upon the school leaving qualification and competitive entrance exam. These schools also carry out the advanced and specialisation courses and award diplomas and specialisation diplomas at the various levels of study.

National Dance Academy

The National Dance Academy provides education and training in the dance field. It trains the dancers, choreographers, and dance teachers using the traditional and modern techniques of dancing.  Such academy after the successful completion of the course awards the following diplomas: licensed solo dancers, dance teachers, and choreographers.

National Academy of Drama

National Academy of Drama provides education and training to the stage actors and directors. The program incorporates the general and specialised cultural, acting and direction subjects Admittance is focused around on a competition, which comprises of three different parts and candidates between the age of 18 and 25 are eligible to take part, with the exception of foreigners and spectators. The duration of the course is 3 years.

State Music Conservatories

Music conservatories are State institutions that focus on the advancement of education and research in the area of music, and the related production activities.

Higher Institutes for Musical and Choreographic Studies


Such institutes concentrate on the education and training in the fields of music and choreography.

National School for Cinema

The national school for cinema is a private institution that concentrates on education in cinematography. It promotes the growth of the artistic production and techniques of cinema and audiovisual production by conducting fundamental and advanced courses.

Central Institute for Cultural Heritage

The central institute for cultural heritage encourages the conservation and restoration of the national artistic possessions. The Ministry for the national cultural heritage administers and manages such institutes.

Central Institute for Restoration

The Central Institute for Restoration offers 3 to 4 year courses in conservation of metals and other materials of archaeological discovers, paintings and their supports, architectonic surfaces and cognate materials. After successful completion of the course, students are awarded diploma that entitles them to practice a restorer. Admittance is based upon the previous educational and professional qualification and entrance tests, like an experiment on paintings or metals, drawing tests or interview in art history.

School for Conservation and Restoration of Precious Stone Materials

The School for the conservation and restoration of precious stone materials provides a three year course in fields related to the stone materials, mosaics and works in hard stones, terracotta, metalwork, furniture and imprinting, gilding and polychrome wooden sculpture, paintings, murals, paper, textiles and so on.
School for Restoration of Mosaics

Italians and non-Italians aged between 18 and 40 are eligible for courses at schools for restoration of Mosaics. Such schools offers a specialist 3-year program. Admission is based upon the previous qualification and entrance exam.
Central Institute for the Conservation and Restoration of Damaged Books

The Central Institute for the restoration of damaged ancient books comprises of the short length advanced courses open solely to professionals who have already attained a substantial level of expertise within the sector. The Institute additionally provides a basic course for the specialised training of potential young professionals.

Foundation for the Conservation and Restoration of Ancient Books and Documents

The Foundation provides a two-year program open to applicants from EU member states. Applicants below 25 years of age and in possession of an Italian school leaving diploma or an equivalent qualification are eligible for the foundation courses. After completion of the foundation course, student can opt for the advanced course and get an advanced specialised education certificate that entitles them to work as restorers of ancient books and documents.
Schools for Archiving, Palaeography and Diplomatics

Schools for Archiving, Palaeography and Diplomatics are State institutions which come under the responsibility of the Ministry for Cultural heritage.  Such schools provide theoretical and practical experiences to carry out the archiving tasks. The duration of the course is two years and after completion of the same, students are awarded a qualification in the same areas of study.

Non-University Education in Other Sectors

The non-university education in other sectors:
  • Programs in Language Mediation
  • Programs in Psychotherapy
  • Military Academies
  • Higher Technical Education and Training (IFTS)
  • Regional Post-secondary education and training
Higher Schools for Language Mediators

The duration of the program is 3 years. Such schools provide students with a sound general and specialist academic education at the highest level in at least two foreign languages along with Italian language, and also develop specific technical language skills, written and oral, for careers in language mediation.

Institutes or Schools for Psychotherapists

Such institutes provide postgraduate programs in applied psychology and psychotherapy and lasts for four years. Admittance requires a five-year bachelor degree in Psychology or a equivalent foreign degree.
Military Academies and Institutes for the Police

Military Academies and Institutes for the police offer education and training in the military services and provide technical and socioeconomic courses. Such training is provided by academies such as the Aeronautic Academy in Pozzuoli (Naples), the Academy of Customs Officers (Bergamo), the Naval Military Academy (Livorno), the Army Academy (Modena) etc.

Higher Technical Education & Training

Courses of higher technical education & training (IFTS) last for 2 to 4 semesters. The courses include technical and scientific studies and training at private or public organisations thereby gaining experience. They are together planned and run by universities, centres for post-secondary vocational education and training, upper secondary schools and organisations. On course completion, a certificate is awarded.

Regional Post-Secondary Professional Education and Training

Professional courses in respective domains and stages have been developed in close cooperation between businesses and industry and are managed by the Regions. These courses provide skills necessary for the job market. The courses are practically oriented and last for 1 to 2 years, depending upon the program type and subject area. Also, there are certain post-secondary professional courses established jointly by the Regions and the Labour Ministry. These courses are for students holding a school leaving diploma or bachelor degree.
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