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There are many reasons why Italy should be the country of your choice in which to study.

Outlined below are just a few examples to help sway your opinion.

Italy has a culture that is deeply rooted in the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations. It was the first country in the world to establish a university system by forming Universitá degli Studi di Bologna and Universitá degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.

Italy is multiracial due to its geographical position, being in direct contact with North African countries with their world of Arab-Islamic civilisation and old Europe (neo-Latin, Slav-Balkan and Germanic). Thus Italy is a natural link for these countries with which it shares historical events and cultural influences. Today Italy is one of the eight most industrialised countries in the world.

Italy is not a big country but in it it's possible to find not only a multitude of treasures in art but also the most stunning landscapes. Even if you hardly travel any distance at all you would be hard pushed not to find new and interesting places and culture.

Since the Second World War, Italy has made enormous efforts to rebuild its infrastructures and promote education and literacy at all levels. It has granted educational opportunities to all layers of society. It is one of four countries that first pledged to create the European Area of Higher Education in the Sorbonne Declaration of May 1998, which thus triggered a type of higher education reform known as the ‘Bologna Process'. This Bologna Declaration of June 1999 is now being used all over Europe.

Thousands of students each year choose to experience life in Italy, especially in the large historical cities with sea locations, such as Venice, Florence and Rome. Most students are aged between 15 and 25 (but there are an increasing number of mature students, including adults and pensioners) who spend a few months studying the beautiful romantic language and magnificent Italian culture, as well as acquiring numerous tips from the Italian kitchens.

Students usually come for relatively short periods, from one to three months, (in December, January and February the schools are less full. The popular months are March to October). But it is very easy to find part time work to supplement your income should you decide you would like to stay for a longer period of time.

Most Italians speak a small amount of English and Spanish, so communicating with the locals is not hard to do. Students come from a variety of countries ranging from Europe to South America, Mexico, Japan and a minority of Arabic, North African and Eastern European countries.

Italy's higher education is based on two sectors: the university sector and the non-university sector. The university sector is made up of more than 80 university institutions, namely over 55 State universities, over 16 non-State universities (that are legally recognised by the State), two universities for foreigners, more than 2 higher schools specialising in postgraduate university studies and more than 2 telematic universities.

The non-university sector includes four education institutions specialising in their own fields: Higher Schools of Design, which include polytechnics for the arts; academies of fine arts; higher institutes for applied arts, music conservatories and recognised music institutes; higher institutes for musical and choreographic studies and national academies. Higher education in language mediation which includes higher schools for language mediators. Higher integrated education which includes programmes of higher technical education and training. And finally, a few specific fields such as military studies, archiving, diplomatics and restoration, which, along with their respective institutions, fall under the supervision of ministries other than that of Education.

The two Italian universities for foreigners, Università per stranieri di Perugia and Università per stranieri di Siena, are State institutions specialising in research and teaching for the development and expansion of the Italian language, literature and culture. They are based in Perugia and Siena. They both offer three year degrees in Italian Language and Culture.

Universities and Institutes of Higher Education set their own rates for fees but in the case of university education, there is a legal minimum fee for enrolment and a maximum level for student contributions to services and costs which cannot be more than 20% of state funding. On average a student has to pay somewhere between 850 and 1000 Euros, but this obviously varies from one institution to another. Private universities are a lot more expensive.

In Italy the academic year is made up of two parts. The first semester begins in September or October and ends in either January or February. The second semester begins in February and ends in July. Each semester lasts approximately 20 weeks, of which 14 weeks will be teaching and 6 will be exams. Teaching usually takes place in large lecture halls, and students are expected to do a lot of homework outside the classroom. Exams are mainly oral, although some courses have written tests throughout the semester, and possibly before an oral exam. Students are permitted to choose their own exam dates from the choices given to them. They are also entitled to re-sit the exam if they feel they have not been awarded a good enough grade.

Based on the equivalent requisites of financial means as Italian students, all international students are entitled to the same assistance, including student loans, scholarships, housing assistance, meal tickets, etc. You should contact the university of your choice for further information. The DSU office (Diritto allo studio universitario) will help you with information on other extra curricula activities, such as sport, transport and other practical matters, as well as offering counselling and advice on financial aid.

Dependant upon which city or town you choose to live and study in, the usual rule of thumb is that the bigger the city or town, the wider choice of indoor and outdoor activities. Local papers will tell you what events are taking place within the town or city, and the internet is a good source for information. Student associations and local students will also be a good starting point to discover more about what goes on in the town or city of your choice. Small towns very often have more active student associations.

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