Twenty-nine out of 36 degree courses will be taught in English at the Politecnico di Milano from the start of the next academic year, La Repubblica reported.
The plans were initially announced by the university’s rector, Giovanni Azzone, in 2012, with the aim of rolling out all degree courses in English from 2014.
Azzone said at the time that in order to stay competitive at a global level, universities have no choice but to adopt the English language.
“We strongly believe our classes should be international classes – and the only way to have international classes is to use the English language,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying.
But 150 professors at the University rallied against the move, despite it being approved by the University’s governing board, and so pursued an appeal with Lombardy’s regional administrative tribunal, which in turn last year ruled against the complete “internationalization” of the institution.
Opponents argued that it was wrong for an Italian public university to force staff and students to use English, and feared teaching in a second language would diminish learning quality.
The University, one of the oldest in Milan and a flagship institution for science, engineering and architecture, immediately filed an appeal against the verdict, with the final decision now resting with Italy’s Council of State.
In the meantime, Azzone is able to overcome the court’s verdict as the request to teach the courses in English came from professors leading the courses, rather than the University’s governing board, which only approved the request, Corriere dell'Università reported.
Only five degree and PHD-level course will still be taught in Italian, including architecture, safety engineering, product design and innovation, and nautical design.
"Our initial idea was different, because we had expected that from the next academic year, one hundred percent of the courses would be taught in a foreign language,” Azzone told Corriere dell Università.
“This is because we wanted to have international classes, with many foreign students, and to use English as a way of attracting them.”