Take the art works of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio, the operas of Verdi and Puccini, the cinema of Federico Fellini, add the architecture of Venice, Florence and Rome and you have just a fraction of Italy’s treasures from over the centuries.
While the country is renowned for these and other delights, it is also notorious for its precarious political life and has had several dozen governments since the end of World War II.
The Italian political landscape underwent a seismic shift in the early 1990s when the “mani pulite” (“clean hands”) operation exposed corruption at the highest levels of politics and big business. Several former prime ministers were implicated and thousands of businessmen and politicians were investigated.
Millions of tourists visit Italy to see its antiquities, such as Michelangelo’s David
There were high hopes at the time that the “mani pulite” scandal would give rise to a radical reform of Italian political culture, but these hopes were dashed when the old structures were replaced by a new political landscape dominated by the multi-millionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi, who himself became increasingly mired in scandals and corruption affairs.
At a glance
- Politics: Matteo Renzi leads a left-right coalition government
- Economy: Italy has the eurozone’s third largest economy and a huge public debt – second only to Greece’s
- International: Italian forces have been active in peacekeeping in the Balkans, Africa and Middle East, and are present in Afghanistan
The growing popularity since 2009 of a protest movement led by the comedian and activist Beppe Grillo reflects the level of discontent with all the mainstream parties, which many Italians see as being irredeemably self-serving and out of touch with the concerns of ordinary citizens.
Italy was one of the six countries that signed the 1951 Paris Treaty setting Europe off on the path to integration. It has been staunchly at the heart of Europe ever since, although the government led by Mr Berlusconi in the early 2000s adopted a more Eurosceptic stance.
Mr Berlusconi sought to align Italy more closely to the US, breaking ranks with the country’s traditional allies, France and Germany, in his support for the US-led campaign in Iraq.
Italy is the fourth largest European economy and for long enjoyed one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe, despite the decline in traditional industries such as textiles and car manufacturing as a result of globalisation.
But it became one of the first eurozone victims of the global financial crisis of 2008. By mid-2012, Italy had the second-highest level of public debt – a towering 123% of GDP (annual economic output) – in the eurozone.
There is concern over Italy’s birth rate – one of the lowest in Europe – and the economic implications of an ageing population.
Only a visa issued for study purposes is valid for your final enrollment at an H.Ed. institution in Italy. No other type of visa will be accepted. Therefore you have to apply to the competent Italian diplomatic authority and ask for a study visa in your name. The competent Italian Embassy/Consulate is the authority responsible for accepting your pre-application and checking if you meet the requirements for the visa.
The study visa will be issued only against demonstration that you:
- have a suitable accommodation in Italy;
- may dispose of enough financial means to support yourself (go to Sustenance);
- are entitled to medical care in Italy (go to Health Insurance).
- possess the amount of money necessary to travel back to your country, or have already purchased a valid return-ticket.
- While awaiting adequate initiatives within specific agreements between Croatia and Italy, Croatian citizens studying in Italy as commuters are enrolled against evidence of just a simple entry visa(possibly, a visa for multiple entries) with no need for a stay permit.
- The same provision as under letter A. above is also applied to those foreign citizens who legally live in the Republic of San Marino (entry visa only, no need for a stay permit).
Within 8 days from arrival, all non-Eu citizens who hold a study visa for Italy must apply for a stay permit for study purposes.
The stay permit is issued by the local police station (Questura – Ufficio Stranieri) of the applicant’s place of residence in Italy against presentation of:
- a valid passport bearing a study visa for Italy;
- proof of enough financial means to support herself/himself (go to Sustenance);
- a document giving evidence of her/his right to medical care in Italy (go to Health Insurance).
- When candidates to matriculation decide to move, even if temporarily, to another Italian city (e.g. to attend programmes in the Italian language), within 15 days they will have to apply to the competent police station (Questura) to report their change of address.
- Those students who leave the Italian territory are allowed to enter again only if they already hold a stay permit.
After matriculation, and at least 30 days before the expiration of their stay permits, all non-Eu students coming from abroad have to apply to the Questura for such permits to be extended for the whole year. On the occasion, each student must demonstrate to have the necessary financial resources to support herself/himself, a certificate of enrollment issued by an Italian H.Ed. institution, as well as to meet all the other requirements needed for the issuing of the stay permit.
Both study visa and stay permits are renewed to the students who have passed one exam in the first year of their degree programmes, and two exams at least in the following years for the earning of such a credit number as determined by the institutions. The stay permit may be renewed also to a student who has passed only one exam against documentary evidence of a state of very poor health or of other serious reasons. All that without prejudice of the dispositions concerning the global number of possible renewals; in fact, stay permits cannot be issued for more than 3 years beyond the legal length of the degree course concerned (Art. 46, § 4 of the Presidential Decree No. 394 of 31st August 1999).
The Italian Higher Education System
Italian higher education is structured in a binary system, consisting of two main articulations: – the university sector – the non-university sector. At present, University sector is made up of 89 university institutions which are classified in: – 58 State universities – 17 non-State universities (legally recognized by the State) – 2 universities for foreigners – 6 higher schools specialized in postgraduate university studies – 6 telematic universities. The non University sector includes 4 education typologies with their institutions: – higher schools of design: polytechnics for the arts, academies of fine arts, higher institutes for applied arts, music conservatories and recognized music institutes, higher institutes for musical and choreographic studies, national academies – higher education in language mediation: higher schools for language mediators – higher integrated education (FIS): programmes of higher technical education & training (IFTS) – a few specific fields (e.g. archiving, diplomatics, restoration, military studies, etc.) which, along with their respective institutions, fall under the supervision of ministries other than that of Education.