After the first year alone, 15 percent of students on three-year courses drop out altogether, while the same number switch courses, the report by educational agency Anvur found. The remaining 10 percent abandon university at a later stage of their course.
The government agency put the high figure down to the difficulty students have in moving from school to university life. There has been “ineffective orientation, a deficit in preparing students [and] a weakness in training staff [to help] those enrolled,” the report said.
The overall number of Italians going to university has, however, gone up in recent years. The number of young graduates, aged between 25 and 34, has jumped from 7.1 percent of the population in 1993 to 22.3 percent in 2012.
But despite an increasingly educated youth, Anvur found “chronic problems” in the university system.
Economic woes have hit the education system hard, with university funding from the education ministry dropping by €1 billion since 2009. The budget cut represents a 20 percent drop in real terms, the report said.
Italy is also falling behind in terms of research spending at universities, with public funding around €3 billion lower than the average figure for the OECD’s 34 countries.
Poor investment has had a knock-on effect on Italy’s international reputation, with Italy failing to make it a recent ranking of the world’s top 200 universities. Fifteen of the country’s universities were, however, featured in the Times Higher Education Magazine’s top 400, including the University of Turin and the University of Trieste.