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

Italian universities featured more prominently than ever before in the latest set of prestigious international rankings. Here's a look at the country's top-rated institutions and how they stack up globally.

Ranked: Italy's best universities and how they compare worldwide
Photo by Samuele Giglio on Unsplash

Good news, at last, for the Italian higher-education system.

The 2022 edition of the prestigious World University Ranking by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) included 56 Italian universities among the 1,543 most distinguished academic institutions worldwide.

This makes the bel paese the seventh most-represented country in the ranking, which is based on criteria including uses peer review, faculty/student ratio and number of citations of published research.

The top 30 places in the international table were dominated by US and UK universities, with the top three places taken by MIT, Oxford, and Stanford.

But Italian universities featured more prominently on the list than ever before, with a total of 507 Italian university courses included: 55 more than in the 2021 ranking.

READ ALSO: What you need to know before a semester abroad in Italy

In comparison to last year’s figures, 104 Italian university courses climbed up the ranking while 210 held their positions and 138 dropped down. 

Italy now boasts an average of 9.1 QS course placements per single university. That is nearly half a point above the European Union average, sitting at 8.7 programmes per university. That puts Italy joint seventh in the table of countries in terms of the number of placements in the rankings, alongside Sweden.

The top 10 Italian universities remain the same this year, with the Polytechnic University of Milan, the University of Bologna and Rome’s La Sapienza leading the pack.

The best Italian universities according to the QS ranking:

  1. Polytechnic University of Milan
  2. University of Bologna 
  3. University of Rome – La Sapienza
  4. University of Padua
  5. University of Milan
  6. Polytechnic University of Turin
  7. University of Pisa
  8. San Raffaele University
  9. University of Naples Federico II
  10. University of Trento

These historic institutions have long been at the forefront of international academic instruction. La Sapienza was ranked the best university in the world for Classics and Ancient History for the third time in its history. The Rome-based institution was also listed as the best Italian university in as many as 15 subjects (that’s seven more compared to last year) with six top-50 courses at an international level. 

La Sapienza’s rector Antonella Polimeni on Thursday praised the “incredible result”, saying that it “rewards the great efforts made by our academic community in all areas of knowledge”.

A number of other Italian institutions stood out for the excellence of their programmes. 

The University of Bologna, which has been ranked the third-best university on Italian soil, boasts as many as 25 top-100 courses internationally, scoring highly in Classic and Ancient History (22nd place), Agriculture and Forestry (40th), Archaeology (44th).

Milan’s Polytechnic, which took the crown for best-ranked Italian university, retained two top-10 courses: Art and Design (5th place) and Architecture (10th). Meanwhile, Milan’s Bocconi University entered the top 10 in Social Sciences and Management. 

The University of Pisa university also overtook Paris’s Sorbonne in the global ranking.

Overall, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the top-ranked institution, taking the top spot in 12 different subjects.

US universities once again got the best of British ones, snatching the top spot in 28 out of 51 subjects, while UK universities ‘only’ came in first in 13 areas of study, with the University of Oxford first in six of them.

Zurich’s ETH was ranked the best university in continental Europe as the institute scored first in three different subjects.

See the latest QS rankings in full here.

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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.

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.