Bologna topped the chart in the 2019 edition of the annual Italian university rankings by poll company Censis.
In the ranking of universities with more than 40,000 students, Bologna reaches an overall score of 90.8 on a scale of 60-120.
It was followed by the universities of Padova, Florence, and Rome's La Sapienza.
The city of Bologna. Photo: depositphotos
The study rated universities on factors including the quality of student facilities, international relations, use of scholarships, digital services, and the future employability of graduates.
Bologna scored highly on most indicators, though lost points when it came to the provision of student services and on the use of scholarships to ensure the “right to study”.
Polytechnics were ranked seperately in the study. The Politecnico di Milano, which repeatedly tops international university rankings, took first place here too with an overall score of 95.8.
The rankings of Italy's biggest universities. Screenshot: Censis
The University of Perugia was number one in the ranking of Italy's smaller universities – those with between 20,000 to 40,000 students – followed by the Calabria and Parma.
The study's authors noted that the number of students enrolling at Italian universities continues to rise, with an increase of 1.3 percent recorded for the 2017-2018 academic year.
They reported that 47 percent of 19-year-olds in Italy are now choosing university education.
However, it noted regional differences with student numbers increasing by up to 4.1 percent in north-eastern regions, but falling in central (-1.2 percent) and southern (-0.1 percent) areas.
The study noted a continuing trend of declining student numbers and poor rankings for universities in the south of the country, as more than 23 percent of students from southern regions went to study in a region other than that of residence, compared to 8.5 percent of those from the north.
Bologna university rector Francesco Ubertini attributed its success to teachers and researchers, and said “the future of Italian universities is in the international dimension.”