Equivalence is a type of academic recognition that is based on the evaluation of a higher level educational qualification with the objective of verifying that it corresponds, on a detailed level, to a similar Italian university qualification. Equivalence is issued by Italian universities that autonomously decide on a case by case basis.
Applications must be submitted to the University Administration Office, who establish a similar course of study to the one carried out abroad, based on the following:
- direct application to the selected Italian University Dean;
- original high school certificate that allowed for admission to the University that issued the academic qualification;
- original analytical certificate of the university exams issued by the University (dates and locations of exams sat, including those sat outside the University that issued the qualification, must be listed);
- coursework for each individual exam;
- original of the academic qualification held;
- three photographs (one of which to be authenticated if the applicant is a non-EU citizen resident abroad)
The documents listed in points b, c, d and e above are to be submitted with an offical translation. The documents relating to points b and e are to be legalised. Italian citizens, EU citizens and non EU citizens who are legally resident in Italy, can personally submit the application to the Administration Office in the University in question before the deadline established by each individual institution.
Foreign national citizens resident abroad must submit the application, together with the required paperwork, to the Italian Diplomatic Representative in their country of residence before the deadline established on an annual basis by the Ministry for Education, University and Research (MUIR) for foreign student registration. The constitution guarantees the freedom of art, science, and teaching. It also provides for state schools and guarantees the independence of the universities. Private schools (mainly run by religious bodies) are permitted. The constitution further states that the public schools are open to all and makes provision for scholarships and grants. Free state education is available to children of all nationalities who are resident in Italy.
Education is compulsory only for those age 6 to 16 years. The school system begins with kindergarten for the 3 to 6 years old, which is non compulsory. Primary schools are attended by children between the ages of 6 and 11, at which stage most go on to secondary schools for 11 to 14 years old, but those wishing to study music go directly to the conservatories.
Postsecondary schooling is not compulsory and includes a wide range of technical and trade schools, art schools, teacher-training schools, and scientific and humanistic preparatory schools. Pupils from these schools can then continue their education attending either non-university- or university-level courses. University education is composed of three levels. At the first level, it takes between two and three years to gain a diploma. At the second level, between four and six years are spent to gain a university degree. At the third level, specialized courses of two to five years’ duration or doctorate courses lasting three to four years are offered.
At the beginning of the 21st century, more than one-third of the population had a high school diploma, about one-third had a junior high school diploma, and more than one-tenth had obtained a college degree. But educational attainment is higher in the younger generations. About two-thirds of people of university age attend university, and almost nine-tenths of people of high school age attend high school. Most schools and universities are run by the state, with programs that are uniform across the country. Less than one-tenth of students attend private schools. University fees are low, and enrolment is unrestricted for most students with a postsecondary school diploma.