Studying Abroad

Studying in Italy

Uni Compare  · May 18th 2021

Italy is a country rich in history and culture.


It has long been associated with educational excellence which is why it is no surprise that it’s such a popular choice for students studying abroad.

Italy has so much to offer when it comes to studying abroad; prestigious universities, available funding opportunities, reasonable tuition fees and many English-taught degree courses.

However, not all courses are taught in English, so depending on the course or university you want to study at, you may want to brush up on your language skills before you book your flight.

The University of Bologna has paved the way for the university system that we all know today. It was the first institution of higher education of its kind in the developed world, back in 1088, and it was there that the word ‘university’ was coined! In recent times, it has played an important part in the development of standardised university education across Europe.

It provided the initial inspiration for the Bologna process which aims to develop common higher education systems across Europe, an impressive feat!

Cost of living

The cost of living in Italy is different to the cost of living in the UK. For one thing, the currency is different, with Italy using the Euro instead of the pound and with a slight differential in the price.

The cost of living in Italy is more or less level with the cost of living in the UK, though costs may be different for students compared to those who are not in full-time education.

As previously mentioned, Italy can be more expensive than other EU countries, so we have provided the average costs of everyday items…

  • Dining out: €15.00/£13.10 per meal
  • McDonald’s: €7.30/£6.40 per meal
  • Beer: €4.00/£3.50 per pint
  • Coke: €2.00/£1.75 per can
  • Water: €1.00/£0.90 per bottle
  • Milk: €0.61/£0.50 per pint
  • Bread: €1.44/£1.30 per loaf
  • Bus ticket: €1.50/£1.34 one way
  • Bus ticket: €35.00/£30.60 monthly
  • Utilities: €160.00/£140.00 monthly
  • Cinema: €8.00/£7.00 per ticket
  • Rent: €550.00/£481.40 per month

*All prices are correct at the time of publishing.

Studying in Italy.

The Education system in Italy

It won’t come as a surprise that the University of Bologna is the country’s highest rated institution and was ranked in the World University Rankings in 2013-2014.

Italy also has two other institutions, the Sapienza University of Rome and Politecnico di Milano which have also featured on the list!

  • Italy has 89 universities alongside a number of polytechnics and other academics that form a part of the higher education sector.
  • The number of degree courses available in English at all levels is growing however above undergraduate level is more comprehensive. There are over 32,000 foreign and international students in Italy; this includes students on international and exchange programmes.
  • Italy’s higher education sector consists of two main areas: university and non-universities.
  • The 89 universities fall into the following categories; state universities, non-state universities, universities for international students, technical universities, telematic universities and universities specialising in postgraduate studies.
  • There are many degree courses available in a variety of subjects which are usually categorised into five main areas; health, humanities, sciences, technology and social sciences.
There are higher education institutions that exist, but in the non-university sector, these include higher schools of design, schools of higher education in language mediation and schools of higher integrated education. Because of the Bologna process, degrees in Italy are structured as follows:
  • First cycle/Laurea Triennale – which is comparable to Bachelor/undergraduate programmes and are three years long.
  • Second cycle/Laurea Magistrale – consisting of two years of study and are equivalent to master’s degrees.
  • Specialist master’s programmes/master Universitari di l e di ll livello – which usually involve one year of study and can provide students with professional knowledge.
  • Third cycle/Dottorato di Ricerca – these are equivalent to PhD level and last for three years.

Italy’s academic year is split into two semesters or terms, the first term starts in Autumn around September or October and finishes in January or February. The second semester commences in February and usually ends in July.

There are exams, but they are often held after the teaching periods and will be in the form of oral assessments or presentations. If you are looking to study in Italy then it would be best to brush up on your past papers as soon as possible.

What do I need to study in Italy?

Students need to have the minimum education requirements as well as an understanding of the Italian language to gain a place at an Italian university. Individual institutions may test student’s competency in the language; you can check if you are required to take a language test beforehand.

A school leaving qualification is needed to be able to successfully enter the first-cycle of studies (bachelor’s degree). Prospective students should check entry requirements for their desired universities as procedures can vary depending if you are an EU or non-EU national/student.

It should also be noted that Britain’s recent exit from the European Union (Brexit) has hampered departure and arrival into Italy for UK nationals, so you will need to do a fair amount of research on your trip before you begin your journey.

How much will it cost me to study in Italy?

The tuition fees in Italy will differ depending on the university and the course, which can affect you choosing the right university. On average, undergraduate courses can cost between €850 and €1,000 per academic year with postgraduate courses considerably higher.

There is also a means-tested system where fees are calculated on a student’s parental income (similar to how the Student Loans Company determines maintenance grants and loans for undergraduate students in the UK).

Will I get funding to study in Italy?

Scholarships, student loans and grants are available to EU students on the same basis as Italian students. Eligibility is usually on a merit or means-tested basis and not all students are assisted with their finances.

Financial assistance includes scholarships, student loans, housing assistance, fee waivers and meal tickets. Many university websites will have information on financial aid or the various scholarships and financial aid on their websites.

EU students can work in Italy without needing additional permission; however, youth unemployment is currently very high due to the economy and jobs are unlikely to come by especially if students lack basic language skills.

Universities in Italy don’t usually offer halls of residence, so it’s important to choose the right accommodation, although they do offer help with finding accommodation, especially at individual institutions. Students should bear in mind that Italy is one of the more expensive countries in the EU and living expenses in the north of the country may be considerably higher than those in the south.

Will I need a student visa to study in Italy?

Once students have received an offer from an Italian university, they can then apply for a student visa at their county’s Italian’s embassy if they’re a non-EU national. EU nationals can enter Italy without a visa but will need to show details of accommodation, a satisfactory amount of financial stability (from work or savings) and some form of health cover.

EU students will need to apply for a residence permit and can do this by registering with the local police within three months of arriving in the country. Students should contact their chosen universities to check university entry requirements and then contact the Italian consulate/embassy in their home country to apply.

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