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EDUCATION

Italy set to make Covid ‘green pass’ obligatory for school staff and university students

The Italian government is meeting on Thursday afternoon to make a final decision on plans to make its health passport compulsory for school and university staff and older students.

Italy set to make Covid ‘green pass’ obligatory for school staff and university students
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Government ministers have been holding talks throughout this week on plans to further expand the use of the ‘green pass’ health certificate, potentially making it a requirement to access schools and workplaces and some forms of public transport, including long-distance trains.

An official announcement is expected later on Thursday, though media reports suggest that the government is likely to make the document mandatory for staff at schools and universities from the start of the new academic year in September.

READ ALSO: Italy considers requiring Covid ‘green pass’ for public transport, schools and workplaces

Ministers are also expected to announce that university students will also need to show the pass, news agency Ansa reports, while discussions are still ongoing about whether to extend the requirement to high school students.

Italy is already preparing to make the health pass compulsory for entry to many cultural and leisure venues from Friday, August 6th.

The debate over whether the requirement should be introduced in schools comes as ministers debate whether vaccination should be made mandatory for school staff, as is already the case with healthcare workers in Italy.

Italy’s health pass will become a requirement at museums, cinemas, gyms, indoor restaurants and more from August 6th. Photo: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP.

Around 90 percent of Italian school staff are now vaccinated, according to health ministry data.

What sort of sanctions school staff or students could face if they don’t show the green pass “remains to be defined”, Ansa writes.

The government has reportedly decided against making tests free for students because of concerns it could discourage them from getting vaccinated.

EXPLAINED: When, where and why will you need a Covid health passport in Italy?

However, the government has said it will include a cap on the price of testing for everyone in a set of new green pass-related measures due to be announced by Friday.

At the moment, the cost of testing varies considerably around Italy, with rapid antigenic swab tests costing anything from €15 to €50 depending on which region you’re in.

Free tests are available from the Red Cross at the main train stations in major Italian cities, however the government has not indicated that it has any plans to expand the availability of free testing.

Some 47 percent of people in Italy have already obtained their green pass, according to surveys carried out by business association Confesercenti, and another 20 percent are in the process of trying to obtain it, newspaper La Stampa reports.

However, 21 percent of those polled said they didn’t want the certificate and wouldn’t be getting it.

OPINION: Covid passports are Italy’s only choice – but they must be a right, not a privilege

With widespread reports of people experiencing technical difficulties and delays in accessing the pass, the government has updated the official website with new download options and said people can also continue to use paper certificates as proof until August 12th.

Just over 62 percent of the Italian population aged over 12 is fully vaccinated as of Thursday, though some people who want the jab are still reporting difficulties and delays in accessing it.

The government last week set a new target of having the entire population over 12 vaccinated by the end of September.

Find the latest updates in our green pass news section and further details on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

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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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