Italian university system
The reform of the Italian University System (Ministerial Decree no. 509/99) has introduced some important innovations in the organization of the academic degrees, implementing the decisions taken by EU Ministers in Bologna in 1998.
The new system can be illustrated as follows:
- The first cycle (Laurea) has a 3-year duration for a total of 180 ECTS. It leads to a Bachelor of Science equivalent degree (UK);
- The second cycle (Laurea Specialistica/Laurea Magistrale) has a 2-year duration for a total of 120 ECTS. It leads to a Master of Science equivalent degree (UK);
- The third cycle (Dottorato - Phd) has a 3-year duration for a total of 180 ECTS. It leads to a PhD equivalent;
- On top of the first cycle, the Italian system provides a 1-year course (minimum of 60 ECTS) leading to a 1 st level Specializing Master;
- On top of the second cycle, the Italian system provides a 1-year course (minimum of 60 ECTS) leading to a 2 nd level Specializing Master.
The university reform has introduced a system of university credits for the first time in Italy. The principal objective has been to make studies more oriented towards the students, reducing the gap between the official and real length of courses as well as lowering the drop-out rate. The main characteristics of the system are as follows:
the credits represent the student's total workload (class time, individual study, exam preparation, practical work etc.) and one credit is equivalent to 25 hours.
The average full-time workload for one academic year is 60 credits which is equivalent to 1500 hours. Universities may opt for an increase or decrease in this total workload of a maximum 20% (1200-1800 hours), but they must justify this change.
- The amount of time reserved for individual learning or other individual educational and training activities must not be lower than 50%, except for the courses that include practical or laboratory work.
- Credits are earned once the student has passed the assessment for each course or activity.
- The total or partial recognition of credits obtained by students wishing to continue their studies in a different degree programme or different institution is at the discretion of the educational authority, in accordance with the criteria and procedures of the university teaching regulations.
- The teaching regulations of each university can provide for regular reassessment of credit allocation and indicate the minimum number of credits that must be achieved within a fixed period of time (in the case of full or part-time studies).
- Universities can recognise credits for professional skills and experience, according to the regulations, as well as other skills and knowledge acquired in post-secondary level courses that have been set up and taught in collaboration with the university.