Sunday, 5 December 2010

Italian Students Want Their Future Back



[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - Protests against the reform of the Italian University system reached its climax this week: students took control of several universities, occupied monuments, broke into the hall of Italian Senate and keep sleeping on the roofs of public buildings in order to express their disappointment for the bill written by the Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini (1).

The law was approved amid high tensions at the Lower House (2) and was scheduled to be soon examined by the Italian Senate (3). However, the debate over the Financial Stability Law and the upcoming confidence vote on Silvio Berlusconi's Government forced the Italian Parliament to reschedule the debate after December 14th (4).

The reform was proposed in 2008, with the apparent aim to cut waste and promote meritocracy. The Italian Government, anyway, had to put it off to 2010 owing to the protest of thousands of students and researchers.

As outlined by Daniele Cecchi and Tullio Jappelli, the problem is money: at the moment, Italian Universities are working without knowing the amount of funds at their disposal in 2010, while funds for 2011 are being reduced (5). As Italy is cutting university funds, France and Germany are instead investing billion of euros to reform their education systems (6).

Generations of students and researchers are protesting to defend themselves from the insane actions of older generations, which keep power and consider their future a costful threat rather than an indispensible investment.

Italian universities are indeed relatively poor and spend a lot of money to pay old professors hired during the 70's without any specific assessment, while indipendence and competition between universities as well as between professors are low (7).

To reform University, the Government should retrieve funds cracking down on tax evasion and invest in order to establish equal opportunities for students and researchers.

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(1) Gaia Pianigiani, "Education protests spread in Italy", The International Herald Tribune, November 27th 2010.

(2) "Camera, passa la riforma Gelmini. Scontro sulle manganellate agli studenti", repubblica.it, November 30th 2010.

(3) Eugenio Bruno, "Il Senato approvi al più presto la riforma Gelmini", ilsole24ore.com, December 2nd 2010.

(4) "Università, la riforma Gelmini slitta", lastampa.it, December 2nd 2010.

(5) Daniele Cecchi and Tullio Jappelli, "L'Università dell'incertezza", lavoce.info, November 26th 2010.

(6) Letizia Gabaglio e Daniela Minerva, "Questa riforma è da riformare", L'Espresso, December 9th 2010.

(7) We posted a larger analysis on this subject here: "A Young Wave Will Sweep You Away", February 11th 2009, talkingaboutitaly.com.




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