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EARTHQUAKE

Prince Charles to meet Italy quake survivors

Britain's Prince Charles is set to visit the quake-hit Italian town of Amatrice on Sunday as part of a European tour designed to shore up relations with EU allies post Brexit.

Prince Charles to meet Italy quake survivors
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, with the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella when they arrived on March 31 for a six-day visit in Italy. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
The Prince of Wales is expected to tour the historic town in central Italy and speak with survivors of last year's quake that killed nearly 300 people, and meet some of those helping with reconstruction efforts.
 
He will enter the abandoned “red zone” where collapsed houses lie next to the ruins of a 13th century Civic Tower, one of dozens of architectural gems in the region damaged by the August 2016 quake.
 
The prince is also scheduled to visit a Save the Children pavilion.
 
Charles, 68, who will succeed his mother Queen Elizabeth II on her death, is on a European tour with his wife Camilla which started in Romania and ends in Austria on Wednesday.
 
The charm offensive comes just as Britain this week officially triggered the Brexit process, becoming the first country to leave the European Union in the bloc's 60-year history.
 
Charles's son Prince William and his wife Kate undertook a similar trip to Paris earlier this month.
 
'Renaissance man'
 
The six-day Italian tour began Friday with a romantic stroll over Florence's mediaeval Ponte Vecchio bridge at sundown.
 
On Saturday, the prince paid homage to the victims of World War I in Vicenza, while Camilla, 69, visited “La Gloriette”, a pool-side villa overlooking the Gulf of Naples confiscated from a mafioso nicknamed “the madman” and now home to a project for youths suffering from mental illness.
 
While Charles is in Amatrice, Camilla will visit the Arcobaleno association in Florence which helps female victims of human trafficking — a hot issue in Italy during a time when the country is rescuing hundreds of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean, including vulnerable women.
 
The royals will be back in the Tuscan capital Monday to attend a reception hosted by the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation to mark the 100th anniversary of the British Institute of Florence, where Charles will be honoured as the “Renaissance Man of the Year”.
 
The heir to the throne and the Duchess of Cornwall will meet Pope Francis and enjoy a tour of the Vatican the following day.
 
The visit to the hilltop beauty spot of Amatrice will not be the prince's first to a quake-hit zone. In 2004, Charles travelled to the scene of an earthquake that devastated the ancient Iranian city of Bam, killing over 40,000 people.
 
In 2006, he and Camilla visited Kashmir, where a quake claimed the lives of more than 73,000 people and displaced 3.5 million.
 
After the Amatrice disaster, Queen Elizabeth made a personal donation to help re-house the homeless and restore damaged churches.
 
On Saturday, protesters gathered in the region and in front of parliament in Rome to demand that the government speed up the construction of new quake-proof houses and help local farmers and businesses get back on their feet.
 
The town's mayor Sergio Pirozzi announced this weekend that the German government and a series of German companies would be paying for the reconstruction of the town's damaged hospital.
 
Before the quake, Amatrice was best known as the home of amatriciana, one of Italy's favourite pasta sauces.
 
 

BREXIT

‘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.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“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.

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