Italy lags behind in education: OECD report

Increasing numbers of Italians are completing further education but academic achievement in Italy still lags far behind many other countries, a new education report from the OECD has found.

Just 22 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds Italians attained post-secondary school education in 2012, the fourth lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data, according to the report by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). This was almost half the OECD average of 40 percent. 

However, the figures did show a marked improvement compared with 2000 when the figure in Italy was just 11 percent.

While tertiary attainment rates increased more on average across OECD countries, with an average of 13.2 percentage points, the increase in Italy was larger than that of Spain and Germany over the same period. 

Meanwhile, the number of 25- to 34-year-olds in Italy without an upper secondary degree (28 percent) in 2012 was the third largest out of 21 EU countries, after Portugal (42 percent) and Spain (36 percent). The OECD average was 17 percent.

Out of 34 countries, Italy was found to have spent the least on education in 2011 – just nine percent of public expenditure. The OECD average was 13 percent.

There was however good news for Italy’s female graduates.

Some 62 percent of new graduates in post-secondary education were women in 2012, an increase from 56 percent in 2000. Furthermore, there were more than three women for every two men graduating from university.

The gender gap in traditionally male-dominated subjects was also found to be smaller than in many OECD countries.

While in Italy 40 percent of all new engineering graduates are women, in Germany this figure is 22 percent and in the UK 23 percent. And on average across OECD countries, only 28 percent of all engineering graduates are women.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.