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EDUCATION

Italian schoolkids make friends easily but suffer high anxiety

Italy's schoolchildren get top marks for socializing but suffer from high levels of anxiety, according to an OECD survey investigating student wellbeing in the developed world.

Italian schoolkids make friends easily but suffer high anxiety
File photo: Pexels

The most recent Pisa education rankings, released by the OECD on Wednesday, looked at issues such as students' wellbeing, their sense of belonging, and anxiety levels.

And the results suggest the Italian school system is one of the world's most stressful.

More than half of Italian pupils said they felt nervous when studying, compared to an OECD average of 37 percent. A vast majority (77 percent) felt nervous when unable to complete a task, compared to an average of 62 percent.

And 70 percent felt anxious about tests, even when they had prepared – a figure which was just 56 percent on average across all the countries included – while 86 percent worried about getting poor grades. 

“Schoolwork-related anxiety is one of the main predictors of low life satisfaction among students, and, in Italy, anxiety is more frequent in schools where students study more than 50 hours a week,” noted the study authors.

In fact, Italians spend significantly more time studying than their peers in other countries.

More than one in five dedicated over 60 hours per week (in and out of school) to their schoolwork, compared to just 13 percent on average across OECD countries.

READ ALSO: 'Bring your own loo roll', broke Italian school tells kids

But it wasn't all bad news for students' wellbeing.

The vast majority of Italian youngsters said they made friends easily at school: 83 percent compared to an average of 78 percent.

Italians were less likely than other nationalities to describe themselves as lonely, an outsider, or awkward at school – despite the fact that they were less likely than average to feel liked by other students. Across all countries surveyed, 82 percent of students agreed with the statement 'Other students seem to like me', but this figure was five percentage points lower in Italy.

All in all, Italians were slightly less satisfied with their lives than the average, with 65 percent describing themselves as such, compared to an OECD average of 71 percent.

Boys were slightly more likely to be satisfied than girls, and boys also reported lower levels of school-related anxiety.

The study also quizzed students on their use of free time, and Italians came out as one of the most tech-obsessed nationalities. Almost one in four schoolchildren admitted to using the Internet for over six hours per day outside school.

These students fitted into the category of 'extreme Internet users' and, in common with other countries, in Italy they were more likely to skip or be late to school, receive lower grades, and less likely to complete university.

READ ALSO: Italian children study more than their peers but do worse at school

Italians study more than their peers but do worse at school: OECD

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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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