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Study in Italy: primary, secondary, higher education for foreign students


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Educational system in Italy is divided into five levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, gymnasium and university. Let's take a look at the basic facts about the Italian education system and study options for foreign children.

Education in Italy: key facts

Public and private schools

There are public and private schools in Italy. Public education is free for all children living in the country, regardless of nationality. Public schools offer high quality education, equal to or sometimes superior to that of a private school. Education is compulsory for children from 6 to 16 years old.

Compulsory schooling is divided into three levels: primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education.

Public educational institutions are financed by the state, private ones - at the expense of tuition fees from students. The academic programs of both types of schools follow MIUR (Ministry of Education, University and Research) regulations.

Rating system

Both primary and secondary schools use a 10-point scale, where 6 is the minimum passing grade.

Ratings :

  • 9-10 - Ottimo (excellent)
  • 8-8.99 - Distinto (very good)
  • 7-7.99 - Buono (good)
  • 6-6.99 - Sufficiente (enough)
  • 0-5.99 - Respinto (unsuccessful).

School hours

The schedule varies from school to school. Most elementary and junior high schools usually run from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, Monday through Saturday. Other schools may only be open Monday through Friday, in which case students will have an hour's lunch break and classes continue until approximately 4:00 PM.

Preschool education

Preschool attendance is optional. Training is divided into:

  • Asilo nido (kindergarten) - from 0 to 3 years
  • Scuola materna (preschool) - from 3 to 6 years old.

In some regions of Italy there are general education schools known as Istituto comprensivo, combining all levels of education from preschool to secondary.

Secondary education

From 6 to 16 years of age, school attendance becomes compulsory, students move from kindergarten to Scuola dell'obbligo (compulsory education).

Primary School

It is aimed at students from 6 to 11 years old, the training lasts 5 years. Boys and girls learn to write and read, gain the first knowledge of history, geography, mathematics, Italian grammar, natural sciences, music, as well as English, computer science, religion + physical education.

secondary school

This stage lasts 3 years. Students deepen their knowledge of the various subjects studied in primary school, take the Esame di terza media (secondary school exam), which consists of:

  • Italian written test
  • Written test in mathematics
  • Written language test
  • Oral examination, which consists in presenting work on a specific topic (summarizes all the subjects studied).

The compulsory curriculum includes the following classes: Italian, English, History, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Music, Arts, Physical Education and Technology.

Gymnasium or high school

This stage lasts 5 years, the age of students is from 14 to 19 years old, but from the age of 16, boys and girls have the opportunity to complete their studies. Students choose from 3 types of secondary schools based on educational goals.

Liceo offers a theoretical education that is oriented towards further university studies. Depending on the subjects studied, the directions may be different:

  • Classico (grammar): Latin, Greek and Italian
  • Scientifico (scientific): mathematics, physics and science
  • Linguistico (language): English and foreign languages)
  • Tecnologico (technology): informatics)
  • Artisto (artistic): art
  • Musicale : music.

Vocational secondary school is focused on acquiring practical and technical skills suitable for work in the areas:

  • Economy
  • Tourism
  • Technologies
  • Agriculture
  • Medicine.

ITF (vocational education and training) - in schools of this type, students acquire practical and professional skills. Training here focuses on the following professions:

  • Plumber
  • An electrician
  • The hairdresser
  • Cosmetologist.

Upon graduation from high school, the student must pass the Esame di maturità (final exam), which consists of 3 written tests and 1 oral exam. After the student receives a certificate of maturity, which allows him to enter the university.

International schools

International schools in Italy are located in major cities - Rome, Milan, Naples. They are ideal for international students who want to study a universal program in a language other than Italian. The most widespread international schools teach in English; American, French, German, and Japanese educational institutions also operate. Some international schools offer bilingual programs (Italian + 1 more language) so that the child can take national exams.

Some international schools offer preschool to upper secondary education for children aged 3-19. Upon admission, you must provide documents from previous schools, vaccination bulletins with all the necessary vaccinations, the results of a language test. Tuition fees in international schools range from € 4,000 to € 12,000 per year.

Higher education

Modern Italian universities offer education in accordance with the Bologna system.

  • The first cycle is known as laurea triennale and lasts 3 years and corresponds to a bachelor's degree.
  • The second cycle is known as laurea magistrale or specialistica (second level degree, corresponds to a master's degree), lasts 2 years and is a continuation of the first cycle, providing students with a higher level of specialization. However, there are some courses (legal, pharmaceutical, construction, architecture, etc.) lasting 5 years (6 years for a medical school), which are called Corsi di Laurea a ciclo unico.
  • The third cycle is dedicated to doctoral degrees: these are theoretical courses that are ideal for those looking to pursue a career in academia or research.

Top universities in Italy

The best universities in Italy are included in European and world rankings, and they accept many foreign students.

Top 5 Italian universities:

  1. Politecnico di Milano
  2. Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa
  3. University of Bologna (UNIBO)
  4. Sapienza University of Rome
  5. Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.

There are 97 universities in the country, 67 of which are public.

University admission for an international student in Italy

If you are not a resident of the EU, you must pre-register with the Italian diplomatic mission of the country of origin and provide:

  • Original request based on Form A (two copies)
  • Letter of Eligibility
  • Original of your qualifications
  • Passing score in the compulsory university entrance exam in the country of origin
  • Two photographs (one of which must be certified by the Italian representative).

The cost of studying at a university in Italy is from 1000 to 6000 euros per year. Private universities charge between 6,000 and 20,000 euros per year.

To obtain a student visa, foreign students must confirm that the account has at least 500 euros per month for the student to stay during their studies.

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