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Universities are not Italy’s most famous export, and the country is not at the top of many people’s list as a place to study abroad, at least not for a full degree. However, it does have an ancient and respectable educational tradition, with seven of the world’s ten oldest universities within its borders.

Who would turn down a chance to live in this jewel of the Mediterranean, this epicentre of Western history and culture, this always-sunny, always-happy country? The food alone should be enough to entice you. What's more, tuition is cheap, costs of living are not quite as bad as Northern Europe, admission is relatively easy, and there are loads of pretty good universities to pick from.

You do, sadly, have to be fluent in Italian for 99% of the undergrad degrees offered in Italy. 


Exams are the backbone of higher education in Italy. You may find that you have very little regular set work at all, and that what work you do during the semester is essentially exam preparation in itself.

The Italian exam system has some peculiarities, to put it mildly. All exams are out of 30, with the pass mark at 18. Your final degree grade will, however, be out of 110, with a pass at 66 – although most top students routinely get over 100, and at least 105 is required for a shot at a competitive job such as the civil service. Another point to bear in mind is that the majority of exams are oral (interview-style), not written – another reason to make sure your Italian is top notch.

Quite apart from this string of seemingly random numbers, Italians take a relaxed approach to sitting (speaking?) the exams themselves. Exams do not occur on specific dates; rather, they are offered on a range of dates throughout an exam season – you can choose the day that suits you best. Not only this, but if you aren’t happy with your mark, you are entitled to simply turn it down, and take the exam again in the next season, or sometimes even in the same season. This may explain why there’s some difficulty in standing out from a crowd who all get great marks by sitting exams until they do.

Getting In

Admission to most universities requires three A Levels, preferably in subjects related to your chosen course, and a proficiency in Italian. Annual tuition fees in Italy tend to average about €800 - €1000, though there are a few private unis that charge much more.

More details can be found at the helpful-but-not-fantastic



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