11 April 17

ITALY – Education System

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The education system
It is organised according to the principles of subsidiarity and of autonomy of schools. The State has exclusive legislative competence on general issues on education, on minimum standards to be guaranteed throughout the country and on the fundamental principles that Regions should comply with within their competences. Regions share their legislative competences with the State on all education issues except for vocational education and training on which they have exclusive legislative competence. Schools are autonomous as for didactic, organisation and research and development activities.

Compulsory education lasts for 10 years (from 6 to 16 years of age). It covers 5 years of primary school, 3 years of lower secondary school and the first two years of upper secondary school. Compulsory education can be accomplished also by attending three and four-year courses offered within the regional vocational education and training system. The upper secondary level of education has a duration of 5 years (from 14 to 19 years of age) and it is offered in both general and vocational pathways (licei and technical and vocational institutes, respectively).

Secondary education is organized in a compulsory lower level, called first-level secondary school (scuola secondaria di primo grado) and an upper level, called second cycle of education (secondo ciclo di istruzione). The latter is made up of State-run general and vocational upper secondary school (scuola secondaria di secondo grado), and vocational education and training (Istruzione e formazione professionale – IFP) which are run at regional level.
State upper secondary education offers general, technical and vocational education. The overall length of studies at upper secondary level is 5 years (from 14 to 19 years of age).
The general path (licei) aims at preparing students to higher-level studies and to the labour world by providing them with adequate competences and knowledge, as well as cultural and methodological instruments for developing their own critical and planning attitude.
Technical institutes have the general objective of providing students with a strong scientific and technological background in the economic and technological professional sectors.
Vocational institutes provide students with a strong technical and vocational general background in the sectors of services, industry and handicraft, to facilitate access to the labour world. Both the technical and vocational paths give access to the university studies and to the Higher technical education and training courses.

Vocational education and training (IFP) run by the Regions is organised into three and four-year courses for those who have completed the first cycle of education and wish to complete their compulsory education in the vocational training system or receive a three-year qualification by their 18th birthday (known as right/duty -diritto/dovere).
Courses can be organised by both local training agencies and vocational upper secondary schools, in partnership with training agencies. In the latter case schools follow regional guidelines. Courses foresee the release of intermediate certifications with the recognition of credits, which enable students to shift to other training or education pathways (e.g. school or apprenticeship). Compared to pathways in mainstream education, these courses are shorter (3 or 4 years), make more use of laboratories and periods of work experiences and aim for faster access to the job market. Vocational qualifications are regulated to the IFP national register and are defined at central level in agreement with the Regions.
The post-secondary non-tertiary level, offers courses within the Higher technical education and training system (IFTS) and within the vocational training system managed by the Regions.
The Higher technical education and training system (IFTS) aims mainly at developing professional specialisations at post-secondary level that meet the requirements of the labour market, both in the public and private sectors. They are organised according to the priorities indicated by the economic planning at regional level.
Finally, the Regions organise short vocational training courses (400-800 hours) addressed to those who hold a qualification obtained either in the regional or in the State vocational training system. They are also called ‘second-level’ vocational training courses. They are organised with funds coming from the European Social Fund and aim at the acquisition of high-level theoretical, technical and managerial skills, also through practical work and stages in enterprises, to meet the professional needs of specific sectors.

Higher education is offered by both universities (polytechnics included) and the High level arts and music education system (AFAM); higher technical education and training offered by the Higher Technical Institutes (ITS).